“The relationship between harmony and tempo and music is very deep,” said Piotr Kowalski, the former director of the School of Music and Dance and director of the School of Music at the University of Chicago. “Harmony is a whole musical dimension in itself.”
What’s more, “Harmonizing the sounds of an orchestra can help the players get better at what they do,” he said. A harmonized beat is a beat that works in unison with all the other sounds of the orchestra. “This is the foundation to everything else the orchestra does,” Kowalski said. He calls it an orchestra’s “syntactic structure.”
The researchers did an exhaustive study of the history of rhythm in music—including “Toccata in F Minor” by Mozart (“todochi”), “Symphony No. 1 in G Minor” by Handel, Bach’s “Mozart Concerto No. 21” in D major, and other works, and scores from 1871 to 1890—and found that from 1815 to 1900, the most common type of rhythm change was a “todochi” or “toccata” (which, like “harmony,” has no clear modern meaning).
“It’s not really that interesting, right?” said Dr. Peter J. Buhmann, director of the University of Notre Dame’s music department.
“It’s a pretty weak form of rhythm change,” he said. “They’re very predictable.” In 1815, however, there were more “tossi” (a sort of “chirrup”) rhythm change. Buhmann called them “the greats”—the most common types of tempo change, since it was not until 1904 that the French composer Joseph Haydn introduced the second most common type of tempo change, called “chirrup.”
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