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In early music, this term meant the ratio of 3:2 (3 to 2), employed musically in two senses. First is the ratio of the perfect fifth, whose musical value is 3:2. If you were to divide the string of a monochord at the ratio of 3:2, you would produce a perfect fifth. Another way to think of it is that two strings at lengths of 3 to 2, one string would make 3 vibrations in the same time that the other string would make 2 vibrations. Second, it represented the rhythmic relation of three notes in the time of two, i.e., the triplet.
In the Baroque era hemiola was used in dance music in the sense that it denoted the articulation of two measures of triple meter as if they were three measures of duple meter. In later music, especially Viennese waltzes the use of hemiola was common, in the sense of playing duplets in one part of the music, over which another part of the music is playing triplets.


Last Updated: 2016-06-01 16:08:46