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Can anyone explain to me how a singer/artist squeeze in more than 4 syllables between subdivisions? i know it has something to do with tempo, but how do you count the beats between subdivisions to make sure you're not using more notes than what the meter suggest? does that mean the artist is using smaller notes to expand the subdivision when they use more than 4 syllables??

  • The meter doesn't say much about how many notes you can use. – phoog Feb 29 at 0:42
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Yes, they have to! Generally speaking, music is divided into bars, all of which are the same length or duration. So, as a simple example, in a piece in 4/4, a singer could sing 'ven-om-ous-snake' using 4 crotchets. If the words contained 5 syllables, one crotchet could be split into two quavers, so 'hip-po-pot-a-mus' could be c-c-q-q-c.

More syllables means more notes which means shorter notes, but in this example, the maximum beats needs to be 4. In fact, that's the minimum too - each bar must contain those 4 beats. So singing 'kill-er-bee' would need maybe c-c-m. (Minim (m) is 2 beats long.)

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