Though it can take some practice to learn how to play, vertical hemiola can spice up your music by forcing the listener to feel the beat in two time signatures at once. Additionally, hemiolas of this sort can act as a sort of syncopation, with one rhythm emphasizing the off-beats of the other. For both of these reasons, hemiola can be found in a variety of indigenous musical traditions, particularly in Africa and the Balkans.

“Musica Ricercata” is a work consisting of 11 movements for solo piano, which make use of two notes in the first movement, three in the second, four in the third and so on, featuring the full chromatic scale in the last movement of the work. We will look at the first movement for its unusual and brave choice of using a single note for an entire composition (or as we’ll see, for all but the last four measures).

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