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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rap Analysis Glossary of Terms

Hey there! Most likely you've been referred here from another one of my posts, telling you to go here in order to ground yourself in the basics. The most important thing to know when reading my analyses is the importance of accent in rap - verbal, metrical, and poetic. Go through this glossary in order so you feel like you have a good grip on things - as might be expected, though, you will get much fuller explanations of these concepts in the full posts. See my #3 Rap Analysis on Nas for accent, and my #8 analysis of Common's "I Used To Love H.E.R." for a discussion of grammatical phrasing. for musical phrases, see #2, on Eminem's "Business." For rhymes, see Mos Def, #11. For a good discussion of flow, see #12, Big Sean.


Verbal accent – The natural way in which words are pronounced. For instance, in the word “verbal”, the accent is on the syllable “ver-“, so that it is pronounced (and notated in my transcriptions) as “VER-bal.”
Verbal Accent Displacement – The act of displacing a word’s natural verbal stress from the metric accent of a bar as determined by the time signature. For instance, Nas in “Don’t Get Carried Away” – QUOTE
Verbal Accent Adjustment – the changing in the pronunciation of a word to match up with the metric accent of a bar’s time signature.
Poetic accent – An accent that is created when a rapper links two different notes by rhyming them together, alliterating them, or through other poetic means.
Metric accent – The accent imparted to a musical measure by virtue of its time signature; for instance, in 4/4, beats 1 and 3 are the strong beats, and beats 2 and 4 are the weak beats. Thus, we say that beats 1 and 3 receive the metric accent.
Flow – An all-inclusive term for referring to the strictly musical qualities of a rapper’s work. Flow is affect by articulation, rate of poetic accents, the nature and use of syntactical and/or musical phrases, and so on.
Rap – A musical vocal idiom of the inflected speaking voice characterized by constant rhythms and a focus on tight manipulation of accent and articulation.Whenever the term “rap” is used in this work, it should be taken to refer to both the musical and textual qualities of a rapper’s work, as opposed to the other parts of the typical rap song, i.e., the beat (bass kick, snare, etc.), the accompaniment (piano chords in the background), and so on.
Rap Music - Refers to the genre of rap in general.
Production – Refers to those parts of a typical rap song that is everything besides the rapper’s work, such as the bass kick, snare, and any other percussive elements, as well as melodic and accompanimental ideas found in any specified-pitch instruments (such as pianos, violins, etc.) Note: the word “beat” should never be used to refer to these musical elements, to avoid confusion with the idea of a “beat” found in a time signature.
Beat – The rhythmic duration that receives stress, as determined by a time signature. For instance, in 6/8, the bottom number, the 8, designates which rhythmic duration receives the beat: here, the eighth note.
Musical Phrase – Strictly in this work’s context, a short musical idea whose rhythmic structure is repeated at least once. NOTE: This is vastly different from the definition of a musical phrase in other musical contexts, such as classical music.
Grammatical Phrase – The natural phrasing imparted to a rapper’s work by organizers of syntax, such as commas, conjunctions (like the words “and”, “or”, “but”, etc.), periods, and so on. Indicated notationally by a curved line under the notes from one note to another one.
Tyranny of 4 – Refers to the over-emphasis of the number 4 or its derivatives in the organization of almost all rap music. For instance, there are 4 beats to a bar, different structural elements of a song (verses, choruses, etc.) are usually organized in multiples of 4 (ending at 8, 12, 16, etc., number of bars.) The variation of this natural tendency for the organization of music is a major way forward towards creating new, innovative rap music.
Metrical Transferrence – The changing of the metric placement of a musical phrase by a rapper; for instance, in Biggie “Hypnotize”, the changing of a music phrase from starting on the beat to starting off the beat.
Internal Rhyming – The technique of placing rhymes inside syntactical phrases; typical of rappers like Mos Def, Nas, and Eminem.
End rhyming – The technique of placing rhymes at the end of syntactical phrases; typical of most rappers like Kanye West.
Block rhyming – The repetition of a set order of vowels in a rhyme scheme over and over, without changing their order.
Syllabic rhyming – Rhyme schemes that are based on a single or more vowel sound, like Eminem in “Lose Yourself:” Their order can change if more than one vowel sound is involved.
Multisyllabic Rhymes – Rhymes made on more than one syllable.
Isosyllabic rhymes  - Rhymes made on a single syllable.
Rapper – The person who generates both the words and rhythms of a rap.
Rate of Poetic Accent – How many accents there are per measure in a certain rap.

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