Metric Syncopation


synco — represent degree of metric syncopation


The synco representation encodes numerical values that indicate the degree of metric syncopation for successive moments in a musical passage. Data tokens for synco consist only of decimal numbers. The value 0 indicates no metric syncopation at the current data record. Higher numerical values indicate increasing amounts of metric syncopation at the current data record.

Syncopation values follow a definition of metric syncopation inspired by the work of Lee and Longuet-Higgins (1982). In brief, metric syncopation may be defined as a moment where an expected metric stress is absent. More specifically, a metrically syncopated moment is defined as occurring when no note-onset happens at a moment whose metric position is more important than that of the most recent note onset. For example, where a note occurs on the second beat of a quadruple meter, and is not followed by a note on the third beat, the third beat is deemed syncopated because it occupies a higher metric position than the previous onset.

Numerical synco values are equal to the logarithm of the metric position of the previous onset minus the logarithm of the metric position of the current moment — where the current moment has no note onset, and coincides with a higher metric position than the previous onset. For example, missing downbeats at the beginning of a measure produce the large syncopation values.

Barlines are represented using the "common system" for barlines — see barlines.

Note: synco data is normally produced by the synco command.


It is recommended that files containing predominantly synco data should be given names with the distinguishing `.syn' extension.


The following table summarizes the synco mappings of signifiers and signifieds.

0-9 decimal values . fractional delimiter; null token = barline; == double barline —– ———————————-

Summary of synco Signifiers


A sample document is given below:


**synco *M2/4 *tb8 =1 0 0 0 0 =2 1.10 0 0 0 =3 0.69 0 *- ———–


The following Humdrum command produces synco data as output:

synco measure the degree of metric syncopation – ————————————- ——————————————


The following tandem interpretations can be used in conjunction with synco:

MIDI channel *Ch1 meter signatures *M6/8 tempo *MM96.3 timebase *tb32 —————— ———–

Tandem interpretations for synco


barlines, **metpos, synco, **timebase


Longuet-Higgins, H. C., & Lee, C. S., "The perception of musical rhythms," Perception, Vol. 11 (1982) pp. 115-128.