By seminal I mean books like Rameau's Treatise on Harmony, Fux's Study of Counterpoint, or a more modern text like Piston's Harmony.

I have scanned translations of treatises by Riepel and Koch. They are tough reads, but important historical sources regarding meter and phrase.

It seems like Cooper & Meyer, The Rhythmic Structure of Music is a key text from modern times.

Are there other seminal works I should read?

1 Answer 1


Riepel and Koch are definitely two of the big historical names, and Cooper & Meyer is an important text from the last century. Some other ideas:

  • Harald Krebs, Fantasy Pieces: discusses concepts of metrical dissonance, and is an absolute blast to read!
  • Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music: has a bit on rhythm, but this would be more skimmable, depending on what your goals are
  • Justin London, Hearing in Time: addresses some of the more scientific concerns (limits of listening, etc.)
  • Danuta Mirka, Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart
  • William Rothstein, Phrase Rhythm in Tonal Music: definitely read the first 100 pages, then the rest of the book are individual chapters on particular composers
  • Carl Schachter, Unfoldings: three essays in here are republications of his work on meter/rhythm work within Schenkerian analysis. You can find the original articles in The Music Forum.

Note that these recommendations deal with tonal music; post-tonal music would have a different bibliography.

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