Syncopation is an alteration of the expected rhythmic emphases: for example, accenting (see accent) a weak (instead of a strong) beat, or replacing strong beats with a rest (silence). For example, in classic ragtime tunes, the accents are not on one-two-three-four but on one-two-three-four. Syncopations disturb the regular, predictable pattern of strong and weak beats (as indicated by the time signature).


Among other musical genres in which syncopation is commonly used are jazz, funk, reggae, hip-hop, progressive rock, ska, dubstep, samba, and dance music. In the form of a backbeat, syncopation is found in almost all contemporary pop music.