America – West Side Story – NOT a Hemiola

Students,

Like the wikipedia article says, the song ‘America‘ by Leonard Bernstein from the musical West Side Story is NOT a hemiola. That is when you play a simple and compound meter at the same time, like this:

In the case of ‘America’, simple and compound meter alternates bars of 6/8 and bars of 3/4:

Next class, we will all perform a hemiola using our knees. With our right hand, we will accent simple time and with our left hand we will accent compound time.


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1 Comment

Filed under Grade 9

One response to “America – West Side Story – NOT a Hemiola

  1. I would disagree that hemiolas require playing two different rhythmic patterns simultaneously, and that is not how it always appears in “classical” music.The hemiola's rhythm can occur All By Itself, but by going against the prevailing time signature there is a Feeling of “compound” rhythms built up in the listener–your body and brain expects the 3 + 3 rhythm they have been hearing, but the music suddenly shifts to a 2 + 2 + 2 rhythm instead. It is not necessary for other musical voices to sustain the prior, prevailing meter, and there are many cases where they do not.