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This article is about music. For the memoir, see Stop-Time.
Stop-time cadential pattern.[1]

In tap dancing, jazz, and blues, stop-time is an accompaniment pattern interrupting, or stopping, the normal time and featuring regular accented attacks on the first beat of each or every other measure alternating with silence or solos.[2] Stop-time appears infrequently in ragtime music.[3] The characteristics of stop-time are heavy accents, frequent rests, and a stereotyped cadential pattern.[1] Stop-timing may create the impression that the tempo has changed though it has not.[4] Stop-time is, according to Samuel A. Floyd Jr., "a musical device in which the forward flow of the music stops, or seems to stop, suspended in a rhythmic unison, while in some cases an improvising instrumentalist or singer continues solo with the forward flow of the meter and tempo. Such stop-time moments are sometimes repeated, creating an illusion of starting and stopping, as, for example, in Scott Joplin’s 'The Ragtime Dance' and Jelly Roll Morton’s 'King Porter Stomp'."[full citation needed]

Joplin's "Stoptime Rag" (1910) employs stop-time throughout; it even lacks his characteristic four-bar introduction. Stop-time in Joplin's rags is characterized by directions in the music for performers to stomp their foot to the beat. Joplin's "Ragtime Dance" contains the direction,[5] "Notice: to get the desired effect of 'stop time', that the pianist will please stamp the heel of one foot heavily upon the floor at the word 'stamp'. Do not raise the toe from the floor while stamping."

Stop-time is common in African-American popular music including R&B, soul music, and led to the break of hip hop.

See also: Time signature


  1. ^ a b Berlin (2002), p.19–41.
  2. ^ Don Michael Randel, ed. (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music, p.841. ISBN 0-674-01163-5.
  3. ^ Berlin, Edward A. (2002). Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History, p.14. ISBN 0-595-26158-2.
  4. ^ Gridley and Cutler (2003). Jazz Styles: History and Analysis, p.15. ISBN 0-13-099282-8.
  5. ^ Hiscock and Metcalfe (1998). New Music Matters 11-14, p.61. ISBN 0-435-81090-1.