measure, in music, a metrical unit having a given number of beats, the first of which normally is accented, although the accent may be displaced by syncopation. Measures are separated on the staff by vertical lines called bars. The term bar has become synonymous with measure. The consistent division of music into measures with regularly recurring accent did not become prevalent until the 17th cent. See also meter and rhythm.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.