My question refers to

PERRICONE, Jack. Melody in songwriting: tools and techniques for writing hit songs. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000.

In chapter 3 Jack Perricone elaborates on rhythm and explains how to find the amount of stress a note gets naturally by rhythmic stress and metric stress. I know that real world examples don´t work that mechanically but I would like to understand the textbook examples anyway.

I´ve included two of his expanatory measures and the two examples, my quetion refers to, below.

Three rules he gives that might be important here:

  1. Syncopated notes get increased stress
  2. Anticipations receive the stress of the anticipated note and additional stress due to syncopation
  3. Notes after a rest are stressed if they are not shorter than the note before. If they are shorter they are just acting as a pickup for the following beat.

1. Question Do you know of any other textbook detailing his approach?

2. Question

I have some problems understanding the syncopation and anticipation examples shown below (the letters are not in the book). I would be grateful for any review or remarks on my reasoning!

Syncopation example (alla breve)

(?C?) this should get stressed, since its part of the 1st beat? Does it reveice no stress because it the 2nd 1/8 out of a (hypothetic) group of two which is rhythmically unstressed?

(?D?) no idea. I can´t see why this one is stressed

Anticipation example (4/4)

(?H?) is this on stressed because it´s after a rest and has the same value as the note before? Shouldn´t this give //? Or is this on an anticipated beat 1 of measure 6

(?K?) Weak stress because of rest?

(?M?) Strong stress because of anticipation of beat 3 and syncopation, right?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

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  • People should give reason for downvote - I see no reason here. Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 13:03
  • Maybe it's because of its resemblance to a homework question?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 15:36
  • @jjmusicnotes: Yes in deed, did not understand that.
    – DrSvanHay
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 18:31
  • @jjmusicnotes Also, people (not me) probably dislike that the question takes such a rigorous and mechanical approach to such a subjective part of rhythm. Honestly, this question has well-defined parameters and is completely within its own guidelines, so I see no reason to downvote. That said, as of this writing, it's only one downvote, so maybe it's just someone random who doesn't have any good reason.
    – user45266
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 5:09
  • There are endless discussions and analysis about pitch, so I am always glad to see discourse on rhythm and other elements. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


Not familiar with Perricone or his approach but I’ll respond to your confusion as a composer.

1.) Nope. Asking for material recommendations is off topic here. Perhaps you should Google more of his materials? Use the scholarly search function to turn up papers that might cite or discuss him.

2.) The “C” isn’t stressed and here’s why: occurs on a metrically weak part of the beat: what we would consider the “e” of that half-note grouping (as in “1-e-+-a”). Remember in cut time the pulse is at the halfnote. That last quarter receives stress because it’s longer than the 8th before it as well as being on a stronger part of the pulse.

3.) “H” anticipation - this gets stress because of aural memory. Since we have a quarter on beat one - when the music repeats we expect another downbeat. However, it comes a half-bear early. To examine, try taking out that last note and repeating the first measure a couple times. Then put it back in - you’ll see the stress that it gets.

“K” - not convinced it’s anything meaningful. You can only have an anticipation if it subverts expectation. In other words, you need to be able to measure it against something. In this case, the surrounding notes are also syncopated, therefore equal relative to themselves. Thus, labeling them as “ant” is an attempt to shoe-horn meaning.

“M” is interesting. It anticipates a rhythm on downbeat 4. It’s length collects and recenters the pulse. The type of stress that it anticipates is strong enough such that, to be properly released, that measure would need to be 3/4, the resulting downbeat stress would now be in beat 1 of the repeated phrase. Best 1 is the nose stable in this phrase and therefore has the greatest stress. “M” is the 2ns most stable, and it’s anticipation can only be fully resolved by the most stable beat.

  • Thank you for your thorough response and good explanation.
    – DrSvanHay
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 18:36

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