Dodson, Alan. “Expressive Asynchrony in a Recording of Chopin’s Prelude No. 6 in B Minor by Vladimir de Pachmann.” Music Theory Spectrum 33 (2011): 59–64.


Expressive asynchrony, a vestige of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century “melodic rubato,” occurs when notationally solid chords are either arpeggiated or performed with a slight desynchronization of the hands. In Vladimir de Pachmann’s 1927 recording of Chopin’s B-Minor Prelude, the distribution of asynchronies is far from arbitrary. The asynchronies help to establish the notated meter at the beginning of each phrase and reinforce two of its most significant disruptions, and they highlight the global registral extrema and gradual changes in register within each phrase. More subtly, Pachmann’s asynchronies also enhance the music’s intrinsic motion qualities, including a sense of intensification during the antecedent phrase and gradual relaxation toward the cadence of the consequent. Further empirically driven and analytically informed research on asynchrony (and microtiming in general) is recommended.