Show off your theory chops with my weekly challenge! You’ll find a new question here every Monday. Please comment to post your reply.
This week’s challenge:
Listen to this symphonic excerpt (I’ll tell you which symphony on Friday…don’t give it away if you already know!). What meter is this passage in?Hint: the fast notes in the clarinet are eighth notes.
Reply to post your answer, and check back on Friday, December 3rd to see if you’re right!
ANSWER for 11/29/21
The meter of this theme is 9/4, compound triple meter. It’s from the first movement of the Third Symphony by Johannes Brahms. Each measure has three beats, and the dotted half note is the beat unit. Being an example of compound meter, each beat is divided in three; each dotted-half note beat is divided into three quarter notes.
What makes the meter hard to identify by hearing is that this theme is a compact, rapidly unfolding set of variations. Bars 2 through 4 are elaborations of bar 1, and each one ends unexpectedly, sometimes on the downbeat of the next measure, sometimes before the downbeat. The result is a metric ambiguity typical of Brahms, a playful tap dance around the barlines.
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