Meaning of hemiola in English:


Pronunciation /ˌhɛmɪˈəʊlə/


  • 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.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘During the short bridge, one guitarist plays an arpeggiated figure that emphasizes the hemiola division, while the drummer maintains a strict quarter-note division on the hi-hat.’
    • ‘Then come odd meters, hemiolas, spiraling solos, and your head spinning the rest of the way.’


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