The idea of hypermeter is that there is a metrical structure at the level of the measure. In other words, instead of counting 1–2–3–4 as beats in a measure of 4/4, we can actually count "1" for the first measure, "2" for the second measure, etc., as entire measures in a 4-beat hypermeter. One of the interesting things about hypermeter is that, like in regular meter, the first beat/measure is often accented in some way.

(As one example, in The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," we can conduct one beat per bass pitch at the start to experience the 4/4 hypermeter. The chorus at 0:36 begins on a beat 1 of the hypermeter, but there's a clever shift at around 0:46 where what we expect to be beat 4 of the hypermeter is actually an early beat 1.)

In popular music, sometimes accented beats are different; for instance, it's really common to accent beats 2 and 4 in popular music. As such, is there any kind of "back beat hypermeter" where these large-scale beats 2 and 4 are accented?

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    Are you asking if there are any examples of this or whether it could be done? Seems like the first is off topic and the second is clearly “yes, why not.” Feb 7, 2022 at 19:18
  • @ToddWilcox Hmm, perhaps I've unintentionally asked a bad (and maybe off-topic) question. But instead of asking for a particular piece, my question is really more of the format: here is <some theoretical construct>, so why don't I hear about <a closely related theoretical construct>? Is there something inherently flawed with <related construct>?
    – Richard
    Feb 7, 2022 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


There is a common pattern in 3/4, where the snare backbeat falls on beat 1 of bar 2 and 4- but I suspect that many here would conceptualize this as being in a slow 6/8.

You could also find examples of this idea in 4/4- imagine a song where the drums go halftime, and then go "even more halftime". Here is one example, the second chorus of this song. I time stamped it a few seconds before the chorus starts, so you can get the tempo. It is a pretty busy section, but hopefully you can hear the large-scale accents.

I think you only meant backbeat by analogy, but a literal backbeat in bar 2 and 4 should fit the description.

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    I would definitely transcribe "Nothing Else Matters" in 12/8 time - maaayyybe 6/8. Either way, it's not a 3/4 rhythm. Compare with "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin, also transcribed in 12/8. Feb 8, 2022 at 1:44

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