Metric Dissonance in Non-Isochronous Meters Page: 60
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METRIC DISINTEGRATION IN LIGETI'S HUNGARIAN ROCK (CHACONNE)
The previous chapter explored conflicts occurring in meters with a shared cardinality in
Hoist's Mars, revealing tensions created by metric dissonance. This chapter explores the
progression of metric dissonance involving meters of differing cardinalities in Gyirgy Ligeti's
Hungarian Rock (Chaconne). The two pieces share significant characteristics: both involve
grouping dissonances at the beat level, both contain an ostinato, and both have a coda in which
all sense of hierarchical meter is lost. In this chapter, I consider both beat-level and measure-
level dissonances in Hungarian Rock, revealing a drive from relative consonance to relative
dissonance, which culminates with a disintegration of meter.
The Opening Section
The opening section of Hungarian Rock functions as a foreshadowing of rhythmic and
metric dissonances that occur later in the piece. It does so by incorporating varying right-hand
figures against a consistent left-hand part, which I call the "groove." The groove consists of a
repeated, four-bar 2+3+2+2/8 figure in the left hand that persists from the beginning of the piece
until the coda (Example 5.1). The example shows the conflicting groupings of 2 and 3 in the
style of Krebs. Note my interpretation of the groove's grouping conflicts with Ligeti's notated
time signature of 2+2+3+2/8. I have chosen 2+3+2+2/8 because this grouping more closely
follows Lerdahl and Jackendoff's MPR 5 (Length): "Prefer a metrical structure in which a
relatively strong beat occurs at the inception of... a relatively long pitch-event."49 The "relatively
strong beat" occurs at the third beat of the measure, and the placement of that third beat should
49 Lerdahl and Jackendoff, 84.
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Smith, Jayson. Metric Dissonance in Non-Isochronous Meters, dissertation, August 2018; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1248499/m1/71/: accessed April 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .