Encoding polymeters and metric irregularities in selected motets from Hugo Distler's Der Jahrkreis op. 5 using different music encoding formats


Intricate rhythms and metrical shifts are work-encompassing stylistic characteristics of German composer Hugo Distler (1908-42). Such complex temporal structures in particular pose certain challenges for music encoding and computational analysis. In general, changes in Distler’s metrical notation can be recognised: while his early works feature conventional bar lines, Distler’s later compositions in particular increasingly show attempts to express individual metrical intentions in the common Western music notation system. These include frequent changes of meter in the individual voices in polyphonic pieces, groups of notes connected by beams across bar lines, and even the replacement of bar lines with Mensurstriche (an early twentieth-century notation in which bar lines between the staves indicate sections of equal length), caesuras and breath marks. Based on the example of Distler’s motet “O Heiland, reiß die Himmel auf” from the 52 three-part motets comprising collection Der Jahrkreis op. 5, we investigate possibilities and limitations of digital music encoding formats, such as Humdrum’s **kern, MusicXML and MEI. With the prospect of a digital corpus study in **kern, we propose a preliminary Bayesian model for analysing polymeters and metrical irregularities. Taking into account that Distler’s voice leading frequently alludes to the linearity of a Renaissance motet, we also consider the encoding of polymeters in mensural notation.

Jun 27, 2024 3:15 PM — 3:45 PM
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Fabian C. Moss
Fabian C. Moss
Assistant Professor for Digital Music Philology and Music Theory

Fabian C. Moss is an assistant professor for Digital Music Philology and Music Theory at Julius-Maximilians University Würzburg (JMU), Germany.