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hemiola Line breaks: hemi|ola
Pronunciation: /ˌhɛmɪˈəʊlə/

Definition of hemiola in English:


A musical figure in which, typically, two groups of three beats are replaced by three groups of two beats, giving the effect of a shift between triple and duple metre.
Example sentences
  • It was the litany of fruity vowels and partisan plosives of the Russian language that inspired Musorgsky; likewise, Scriabin manipulated hemiolas and syncopes to mimic the rhythms of his native tongue.
  • His is an oceanic performance that gives emphasis to the work's undulating hemiolas as they reach across bar lines and destabilize phrase periods.
  • The original inspiration for this deluxe 21st-century version of the hemiola is the 19th-century's master of rhythmic ambiguity, Brahms.


Late Middle English: via medieval Latin from Greek hēmiolia 'in the ratio of one and a half to one' (from hēmi- 'half' + holos 'whole').

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