This article extends existing approaches to hypermeter by introducing schemas that make measure-by-measure correlations between grouping units and hypermeasures. These schemas offer an account of how listeners track hypermeter through irregularities and discontinuities. In order to ground these schemas in a cognitive, listener-oriented framework, the article also introduces the concept of metrical orientation. Metrical orientation involves heard measures, measures that are organizationally similar to notated measures but that may differ from the notated measures of the score with respect to both period and phase. The downbeats of these heard measures are the hyperbeats that relate to one another by means of the hypermetrical schemas. Metrical orientation is top-down and schema driven; it thus complements low-level, bottom-up cognitive accounts of meter.

The hypermetrical schemas can give analyses considerable flexibility, but this flexibility presents challenges to rule systems and in particular to Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s Metrical Well-Formedness Rules. Two paradigms from cognitive linguistics are used to address this: radial structuring as a way of organizing prototype categories, and approaches to well-formedness that have also been used in examining the interpenetration of syntax and semantics. These concepts function together to provide an alternative to rule systems that is both rigorous and flexible.

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