Issue #1: Temporalities in Contemporary Music
March 2013 | ISSN 2052-3467
Issues of temporality remain close to many musical discussions, yet there remain comparatively few sustained theses on the subject. In particular, contemporary and experimental musics, which can offer radically unique temporal experiences, provide many rich untapped sources for scholarly investigation. Often, research stops short of examining the actual experience, rather falling back to focus upon what information can be drawn from the score, or the compositional intentions behind a piece. But what is the relationship between these composed designs, and individual temporal experience?
Minimalist compositions thwart most attempts at analysis given their remarkable simplicity; their structure is often deliberately obvious. The experience of a minimalist piece, however, is anything but simple. These compositions encourage the listener to ignore the past and the future, memory and expectation, and explore an extended present.
This article explores contrasts between time and eternity in Louis Andriessen’s De Tijd from 1981. The music, although inspired by the experience of “complete tranquility”, appears to establish a dialectical opposition between musical elements signifying timelessness and measured time.
This paper considers the role of musical temporality and memory in the recent works of composer Bryn Harrison. In contrast to earlier pieces, the essay outlines the ways in which these pieces adopt a singular approach to musical structure which utilises high levels of repetition. It is argued that, through this approach, the listener is able to build up a composite understanding of the surface of the music over time. Comparisons are made to the scanning of a picture plane, and the work of Bridget Riley, James Hugonin and François Morellet are given as examples. The paper ends with a description of a new collaborative project with digital artist Tim Head which seeks to develop on this same phenomenological approach.
There is a thread of epistemic theory connecting the discourse of twentieth-century aesthetics and phenomenology which asserts that works of art open up or disclose a sort of ‘world’, so to speak, as well as an associated view of reality that accords with the subject’s primordial and embodied sense of being.
Étude d’un prélude II - Flutter echoes for string quartet is one of the first works to be based on the transcription, into standard notation, of millisecond-faithful micro-temporal data; the work was composed in 2009, premièred in 2010 and recorded in 2011. This article provides a first-hand account of its inception by the composer, Richard Beaudoin, and one of its first performers, Neil Heyde, cellist of the Kreutzer Quartet. The micro-temporal data was collected using the Lucerne Audio Recording Analyzer [LARA], a powerful software developed by the acoustic researchers Dr Olivier Senn and Lorenz Kilchenmann of the Hochschule Lucerne, Switzerland. The object of their analysis, and the source work behind Flutter echoes, is Martha Argerich’s 1975 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, no. 4.