ON THE MORPHOLOGY OF 'POLISH RHYTHMS' IN SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES
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Among musical features most characteristic of Polish music, the most prominent are those associated with three-in-a-measure dance rhythmics, and 'Polish rhythms' are the best known of these elements. This is an informal term, which includes triple time rhythms of descending character, i.e., those where the density of rhythmic impulses decreases during the course of a measure: from the simples iamb, typical for mazurka cadences, through 'ionicus a minore' (described as the mazurka formula), to the complex measures of the polonaise. The aim of the research was to try to recreate the process of crystallisation of 'Polish rhythms' in their early stages, i.e., during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Research material included compositions from Polish sources containing dance repertory, and the so-called 'Polish dances' from foreign, mainly German, sources. In the case of the repertory up to the middle of the seventeenth century the analysis concerned the second, triple-time, parts of pair-dances (the so-called proportio), while in the second half of the seventeenth century triple-time dances increasingly appear as independent compositions. The rhythm of the repertory being analysed was encoded and calculated, as a result of which two main rhythmic parameters were established for each composition: 1) the average density of the rhythm, in the sense of the average number of impulses to the metric unit, and 2) descendibility, i.e., the difference of rhythm density in the first and third parts of a measure. These parameters were used in creating graphs which show the changes in the rhythmical features of the analysed repertory.
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