The Ideality of Time

Redgate, Roger. 2016. 'The Ideality of Time'. In: Making Time in Music. University of Oxford, United Kingdom 12-14 September 2016. [Conference or Workshop Item]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

What does it mean to speak of rhythm in music? Generally, as musicians in the Western classical tradition, we often understand the temporal aspects of music in relation to notation, divisions of space into time units assigned to specific tempi. We also accept that there is a necessary element of latitude in performance, and that some musical parameters are more relative than others in terms of perception and execution. We consider time to be one of the more accurate, since we are able to play together with a reasonable degree of consensus. However, to what degree are aspects of musical time conditioned by notation? Recent developments have lead to certain rhythmic complexities, unthinkable without the intervention of notation, which many performers consider unplayable. So what might be the meaningful limits of such latitude in performance in relation to time and rhythm? Similarly some aspects of musical rhythm and gesture might be considered un-notatable.

Given the complexity of human beings, human relations and the structure of communication through both written and spoken language, it is perhaps striking that many discussions concerning the temporal aspects of music focus more on comparatively simple, clearly defined structures, music that is immediately repeatable, than more complex temporal relationships. This would seem a surprisingly narrow approach to the potential complexities of temporality in music, which significantly restricts our apperception of certain aspects of rhythmic flux and temporal flow.

This paper will examine the above in relation to composition/performance of complex rhythmic structures and the psychology of notation and it’s relation to language.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Contemporary Music Research Unit


13 September 2016Accepted

Event Location:

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Date range:

12-14 September 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Oct 2019 13:56

Last Modified:

21 Oct 2019 13:56


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)