Dodson, Alan. “Performance and Hypermetric Transformation: An Extension of the Lerdahl-Jackendoff Theory.” Music Theory Online 8, no. 1 (February 2002).


In the course of the introductory commentary on hypermeter in A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (GTTM), Lerdahl and Jackendoff discuss the opening measures of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, a hypermetrically ambiguous passage in which “the performer’s choice . . . can tip the balance one way or the other for the listener.” Through reflections on concepts from more recent psychological inquiry into performance, and on the interpretations of the passage that are projected in four well-known recordings of the Symphony, I will develop a set of theoretical principles that describe the “balance-tipping” effects of performance-specific elements on hypermetric structures inferred by the listener. This special case will lead to a more general reconsideration of the place of performance in the design of the Lerdahl-Jackendoff theory. The article proceeds in five parts: (1) an introduction to the main theoretical concepts to be discussed, including a brief consideration of current debates with which the study intersects; (2) a critical discussion of the relationship between hypermeter and performance that is proposed in GTTM; (3) an attempt at extending the theory of accent types to include a special class of phenomenal accents that is under the performer’s control; (4) a close reading of four recordings, facilitated by quantitative performance analyses, and an attempt at explaining their hypermetric patterns as transformations of perfectly regular underlying structures; and (5) concluding remarks of a more general nature on the relationship between structure and performance in GTTM.

Full text (open access):