SMT-V: The Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal

SMT-V is the open-access, peer-reviewed video journal of the Society for Music Theory. Founded in 2014, SMT-V publishes video essays that showcase research in music theory in a dynamic, audiovisual format, presented so as to have the potential to engage both specialists within the field as well as interested viewers outside the music theory community. The journal features a supportive and collaborative production process, and publishes several videos each year. Read more about SMT-V here.

Latest Issue: 8.6 (October 2022)

“When Hip-Hop Accents Collide (They Create Syncopation)”

Ben Duinker (University of Toronto)


Link to bibliography

This video characterizes syncopation in hip-hop music as resulting from the interaction between accent patterns on three textural layers: the lyrics, the rapped delivery of these lyrics (flow), and the instrumental accompaniment (the beat). I unpack different accent types operating on these layers (word accents, performed accents, and metric accents), using examples from Travis Scott, Queen Latifah, Outkast, and others to illustrate their presence and the temporal relationships between them. I propose that hip-hop syncopation is neither a denial, displacement, nor contradiction of metric structure, but rather a product of it, wherein multiple rhythmic layers simultaneously act upon one another.

Keywords: flow, music theory, hip-hop, rap music, accent


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