Meter refers to the underlying pattern of strong and weak beats that provides a living, dynamic time/energy “grid” for music. Musicians align notes and chords with the metric grid to produce a varied range of sensations, including (though not limited to) steadiness, agitation, scampering, propulsion, or repose.

To understand the power of musical meter, we can trace it back to its psychological and physiological roots. Strong and weak beats fall into recurring patterns in the same way that our feet do when we walk, or our jaws do when we chew. By “strong” and “weak,” we mean that certain beats feel “heavier” than “lighter” beats. And rather than counting beats in an uninterrupted series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … 17, 18, 19, … 215, 216), we “meter out” or “measure” these heavier and lighter beats into groups or “measures.”

Going further, the downbeat of any measure feels the heaviest, like the “starting point” or “foundation” for the beats that follow. And the last beat in any meter feels especially light, unbalanced, even “edgy.” And so we call this last beat an “upbeat” because of its need to “land” on the upcoming downbeat. All of the other beats within each measure possess varying degrees of upbeat or downbeat qualities.

A melody gets much of its expressive power by aligning certain notes with “strong” (or heavier) beats and other notes with “weak” (or lighter) ones.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
meter (noun)
a) systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse
(1) rhythm that continuously repeats a single basic pattern - iambic meter
(2) rhythm characterized by regular recurrence of a systematic arrangement of basic patterns in larger figures - ballad meter
b) a measure or unit of metrical verse - usually used in combination pentameter compare foot 4
c) a fixed metrical pattern verse form
the basic recurrent rhythmical pattern of note values, accents, and beats per measure in music
meter (noun)
one that measures , especially an official measurer of commodities
meter (noun)
the base unit of length in the International System of Units that is equal to the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in second or to about 39.37 inches - 1/299,792 see metric system table
meter (noun)
an instrument for measuring and sometimes recording the time or amount of something - a parking meter a gas meter
- postage meter , also a marking printed by a postage meter
meter (verb)
transitive verb
to measure by means of a meter
to supply in a measured or regulated amount
to print postal indicia on by means of a postage meter
Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus
meter (noun)
the recurrent pattern formed by a series of sounds having a regular rise and fall in intensity
beat, cadence, measure, meter
accent, accentuation, emphasis, stress; backbeat; drum, throb; lilt, movement, sway, swing; hexameter, pentameter, tetrameter, trimeter
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