Fingers
Rhythms
 
The tradition
Fingers
Feet
Substitution

 
Preface
Rhythms
Scansion
Recitation
Glossary
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The word dactylos is Greek for "finger" (and for "toe" as well, which picks up on the notion of  feet).  The dactyl is therefore a snippet of rhythm that resembles, at least aurally, a finger.

A dactyl has the following rhythmic shape: one long syllable (or ), which represents the long phalanx (bone) of the finger, plus two shorts (), which represent the two short phalanges.  Figure A will illustrate the concept better than any further remarks.

 
 
 
Figure A. The finger-like shape of the dactyl.
 
 
In rhythmic terms, the two short syllables are equivalent in tempo to the long syllable, just as in music two half notes equal one whole note (or two eighths equal one quarter, and so on).  In recitation, the dactyl usually sounds like "dum-diddy," with "dum" equal to , and "diddy" to .
 
 
 
 
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