What do we learn in this chapter?

A syncopation is a rhythmic stress or accent that puts an emphasis where it would not normally occur. It is often created by emphasizing the weaker beats of the measure. A syncopation can make music sound unexpected, surprising, and interesting. If music only follows the same rhythmic pattern all the time, it can get boring. Syncopation grabs a listener’s attention, much like we notice when a soldier is marching out of step with his unit. Like a rest, a syncopation is one of the substantial elements that shape the time of music. It also helps break up routine patterns. Composers and players should make an effort to look for these “seasonings” in their music. Creating music is not just about filling the empty space, but about controlling it.

A syncopation can be created in various situations such as:

Listening to jazz, a syncopated rhythmic pattern does not surprise me but sounds normal!?
A syncopated rhythmic pattern plays a fundamental role in some musical styles, such as ragtime, jazz, blues, funk, reggae, rap, and samba helping tie the whole track. In these styles, a syncopation serves as a rhythmic pattern characterizing its genre throughout the piece. You will hear it as a pattern, not as an unexpected ‘moment.’ Because making music works relatively, once you get used to the syncopated rhythms, the moment when the note comes on a normal beat will sound surprising and unexpected.