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The syncopation was developed in the prosody of early jazz poetry by poets like Langston Hughes. A syncope is an accentuated offbeat, i.e. a shift of the accent when actually unstressed beats are emphasized or quarter notes of the bar are shifted by inserting eighth notes. This creates rhythmic tension as the rhythm is varied in an unexpected way. Langston Hughes oriented himself on the syncopated structure of contemporary jazz music, especially cool jazz and be-bop. First syncopes can be found in Hughes' Montage of a Dream Deferred from 1951. In Ask Your Mama. 12 Moods for Jazz from 1961, each poem is accompanied by detailed musical instructions, which made Hughes the actual founder of the'Poetry-to-Jazz' movement. Another important example is certainly LeRoi Jones, the second founder of modern black poetry, who also decisively influenced the syncopism of black music and the rhythmic and tonal quality of 'Black English'.

The pattern of syncopation can of course be extremely accelerated in phrasing, e.g. in the lyrics of Saul Williams, an American author, poet, actor, rapper and hip hop singer, who is best known for his Spoken Word albums and the film Slam, and who won the 1996 title of Nuyorican poet Cafe Grand Slam Championvon. Williams Rap Lyrik increases the syncopated rhythm of classical modernism in eighth and sixteenth notes, which are now underpinned by far more complex lyrical rhythms. In addition, the cultural-critical view changes here:

The poem 1987 from the volume The dead Emcee scrolls mentions almost exclusively brand names and cultural references - "Acid wash Guess with the leather patches, / sportin the white Diadoras with the hoodie / that matches. I'm wearing two Swatches and / a small Gucci pouch" -, and uses a much higher amount of syllables than Langston Hughes' jazz lyric. Similarly fast rhythmizations can be found in the poetry of the hip hop poet and poetry slammer Bas Böttcher, whose poem Babylon 2.8 uses a similar kind of syncopations like in HipHop. Böttcher's intonation is also close to the accentuating rhythm of rap, in which the first syllable and three others are emphasized, while any number (usually between six and twelve) remain unaccented. Listening to the spoken version of the poem it becomes clear that almost every verse begins with an accentuated syllable, whereby the first accentuated syllable is missing and thus a syncopation usual in rap music is produced (cf. Badger 2008, 240).


Billy Badger: „Gutes Wetter für Rap Poetry: Bastian Böttchers ‚Drei-Jahreszeiten-Trilogie‘“, in: Gert Reifarth (Hrsg.) Das Innerste von Außen: Zur deutschsprachigen Lyrik des 21. Jahrhunderts, Würzburg 2008, S. 231-253.