In Name and structure of staggering beat in Ramones' “Merry Christmas,” the rhythm in the second measure of the following example is described as a hemiola:
But to me, these are just triplets and not an example of a hemiola. Hemiolas, in my experience, are more in line with the following two examples:
Scott Wallace brought this issue up in the comments, and it led me to look up a definition. In the Harvard Dictionary of Music, hemiola is defined as:
the use of three notes of equal value in the time normally occupied by two notes of equal value.
In which case the top example would be a hemiola.
But I have yet to find a resource that explicitly shows something like the top example as a hemiola. The examples cited in the Harvard Dictionary are:
- the French courante
- the Viennese waltz
- music by Schumann and Brahms (e.g., the opening of their third symphonies)
Note that every cited example is either in 3/4 or some other meter with a triple subdivision of the beat and/or meter. And of Wikipedia's eleven notated examples, every single one is also in one of these meters.
Based on these examples, a better definition may be:
within a meter of predominantly triple subdivision, the use of three notes of equal value in the time normally occupied by two notes of equal value.
The Ramones' example, which has a predominantly duple subdivision, would not be a hemiola following this definition.
Is our definition of the rhythmic hemiola lacking? I'm not trying to redefine a term here; I'm curious if either a) I'm being needlessly specific, b) there is a way to differentiate between these two types of hemiolas, and/or c) if other scholars/resources are more specific in their definition of the term.