Figural vs. Metric Organization

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These are two different ways of mentally organizing heard rhythms. Metric focuses on measuring the relative duration of musical events. Figural focuses on “the grouping of performed events into phrases or figures.”

(Bamberger 1994, 135)

The following figure, adapted from Upitis, 1987a, was used by Bamberger to illustrate the distinction between metric and figural drawings. In metric drawings, symbols are used in a consistent way to indicate similar durations, while in figural drawings, similar symbols are not always indicative of similar durations.

(Smith et al 1994, 118; edited by Alex Roth)


One thought on “Figural vs. Metric Organization

  1. The attribution of the figure and the text are a bit contradictory. The figure is adapted from Upitis 1987a, but Bamberger doesn’t attribute her figure to Upitis. My guess is that she used the same rhythm for her demonstration, which resulted in similar drawings. Clarify the text.

    Also, Upitis 1987 is not in our Bibliography; it should be added if the website is to be “self-standing.”

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