Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

The type of succession in each of these forms of reaction is a transformed dactylic, in which group should now be included the simple four-beat rhythm with final accent, which was found to follow the same curve.  The group begins with a minor stress in both of the present forms, this stress being greater in the unaccented than in the accented type.  This preponderance I believe to be due to the endeavor to repress the natural accent on the syncopated measure.  In both forms the intensive value of the second element is less than that of the third, while the intensity of the initial reaction is greater than that of either of these subsequent beats.  This form of succession I have called a transformed dactylic.  It adheres to the dactylic type in possessing initial accentuation; it departs from the normal dactylic succession in inverting the values of the second and third members of the group.  This inversion is not inherent in the rhythmic type.  The series of three beats decreasing in intensity represents the natural dactylic; the distortion actually presented is the result of the proximity of each of these groups to a syncopated measure which follows it.  This influence I believe to be reducible to more elementary terms.  The syncopated measure is used to mark the close of a logical sequence, or to attract the hearer’s attention to a striking thought.  In both cases it is introduced at significant points in the rhythmical series and represents natural nodes of accentuation.  The distortion of adjacent measures is to be attributed to the increase in this elementary factor of stress, rather than to the secondary significance of the syncopation, for apart from any such change in the rhythmical structure we have found that the reactions adjacent to that which receives accentual stress are drawn toward it and increased in relative intensity.

Further quantitative analysis of rhythmical sequences, involving a comparison of the forms of successive measures throughout the higher syntheses of verse, couplet and stanza, will, I believe, confirm this conception of the mutable character of the relations existing between the elements of the rhythmical unit, and the dependence of their quantitative values on fixed points and modes of structural change occurring within the series.  An unbroken sequence of dactyls we shall expect to find composed of forms in which a progressive decrease of intensity is presented from beginning to end of the series (unless we should conceive the whole succession of elements in a verse to take shape in dependence on the point of finality toward which it is directed); and when, at any point, a syncopated measure is introduced we shall look for a distortion of this natural form, at least in the case of the immediately preceding measure, by an inversion of the relative values of the second and third elements of the group.  This inversion will unquestionably be found to affect the temporal as well as the intensive relations of the unit.  We should likewise expect the relations of accented and unaccented elements in the two-beat rhythms to be similarly affected by the occurrence of syncopated measures, and indeed to find that their influence penetrates every order of rhythm and extends to all degrees of synthesis.

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Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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