Hearing kaleidoscopes: Embedded grouping dissonance in electronic dance music

Mark J. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The rhythmic and metrical qualities of electronic dance music (EDM) are clearly among its most prominent and appreciated features. Yet scholarship on rhythm, as well as popular discourse surrounding EDM, often frames the pervasively duple metres that characterize popular dance-based styles as simplistic and limited in capacity. Given the allure of EDM's temporal qualities, how do musicians devise creative solutions to the constraints of its duple metrical organization? This article addresses this question through a consideration of embedded grouping dissonance, one of several distinctive rhythmic phenomena found in EDM. In theorizing embedded grouping dissonance, the article both builds upon and expands recent music-theoretical formulations of 'metrical dissonance', which describe similar occurrences without addressing this specific phenomenon. It then situates embedded grouping dissonance in relation to EDM's technologically mediated means of production, arguing that this rhythmic technique exemplifies recurring principles of design that shape and reflect the aesthetics of electronic dance music on a broad scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-243
Number of pages23
JournalTwentieth-Century Music
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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