Off-beat musical rhythm / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In music, syncopation is a variety of rhythms played together to make a piece of music, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur".[1] It is the correlation of at least two sets of time intervals.[2]

    \relative c''' {
        \clef treble
        \time 2/4
        \key d \major
        e16 cis\sfz a e\sfz d b\sfz gis e\sfz
        b'4\p( a8)
Syncopation (sfz) in Beethoven's String Quartet in A major, Op. 18, No. 5, 3rd movement, mm. 24–25

   \new Staff <<
       \new voice \relative c' {
           \clef percussion
           \time 6/8
           \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4. = 80
           \stemDown \repeat volta 2 { g4. g }
       \new voice \relative c' {
           \stemUp \repeat volta 2 { f4 f f }
Vertical hemiola (the ratio 3:2)

Syncopation is used in many musical styles, especially dance music. According to music producer Rick Snoman, "All dance music makes use of syncopation, and it's often a vital element that helps tie the whole track together".[3]

Syncopation can also occur when a strong harmony is simultaneous with a weak beat, for instance, when a 7th-chord is played on the second beat of 3
measure or a dominant chord is played at the fourth beat of a 4
measure. The latter occurs frequently in tonal cadences for 18th- and early-19th-century music and is the usual conclusion of any section.

A hemiola (the equivalent Latin term is sesquialtera) can also be considered as one straight measure in three with one long chord and one short chord and a syncope in the measure thereafter, with one short chord and one long chord. Usually, the last chord in a hemiola is a (bi-)dominant, and as such a strong harmony on a weak beat, hence a syncope.