Meter & Beat Patterns

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This lesson is part of the Rhythm, Meter & Form category.


  • Students will be able to analyze the meter and beat pattern of a piece of music.
  • Students will be familiar with different beat patterns (and their instrumentation) used in contemporary and popular music.
  • Students will be able to predict the effect a particular meter and/or beat pattern will have in a musical composition.
  • Students will be able to identify the sounds and accents in a musical rhythm/texture that support their metrical hearing
  • Students will be able to analyze meter using multi-level approach that identifies the subdivision, beat, measure (and if possible phrase and hypermeter)
  • Students will be familiar with basic conducting patterns for commonly used meter signatures (meters conducted in 2, 3, 4, 6).



Listening or Videos[edit]

Instructor Resources

  • H. Krebs. Metrical Consonance and Dissonance: Definitions and Taxonomy." (Fantasy Pieces: Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Robert Schumann).
  • R. de Toledo. "Chapter Two: Core Rhythms." (African Rhythm as the Foundation of Contemporary Bass Performance. Masters thesis, University of Auckland: 2018.)

Class Activities[edit]

  • Review of meter terminologies including simple/compound/complex meters.
  • Exploration, demonstration and performance of different beat patterns (i.e., backbeat, four-on-the-floor, waltz, tresillo, claves, polka/oompah)
  • Discussion of metrical levels (subdivision, beat, measure, phrase, hypermeter).


  • Meter identification of written and recorded musical excerpts
  • Identification, matching and/or transcription of beat patterns
  • Sample assignment playlist for ID of beat patterns (youtube)