The Making of Musical Time: Temporality in Musical Composition and Performance

ORCiM Seminar 2015

The eight International ORCiM Seminar, organised at the Orpheus Institute, offers the opportunity for contributors from around the world to gather and explore the theme of: THE MAKING OF MUSICAL TIME; Temporality in Musical Composition and Performance.


Gianmario Borio

University of Pavia, Italy

Constructing Musical Time. The Philosophical and Compositional Implications of a Central Question in Twentieth Century Music

Martin Scherzinger

New York University, USA

Algorithms of Musical Time (from Biopower to Neuropower

Dorit E. Tanay

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Marchetto da Padua and the Making of the Modern Composer

In modern and contemporary Western culture music has a foundational temporal dimension, since any notated acoustic phenomenon, be it sound or noise, is inevitably produced and experienced in time. However, the relation between music and time is, at least, twofold: music unfolds in time, but it also generates time, creating particular temporalities outside of the physically measurable time. Music has the power to shape and even suspend time.

The temporal dimension of music depends on diverse cultural, social, and performative contexts. In this respect, the role of music notation becomes particularly relevant as it symbolizes and visualizes the temporal aspect of music. Notation is both the result of a measurable concept of time and a necessary tool for the structuring of time. Throughout the history of notated Western art music two main strategies for notating time are recognizable: one based on multiples of a fixed unity of measurement (striated time), the other relying on flexible or irregular patterns more freely placed in a sonic landscape (smooth time). In both cases, even if the notation is extremely accurate, something is still missing, so that the performer and the listener have to complete and fulfill the sense of the score by other means (further contextualization, oral history, aural transmission of knowledge, etc.).

Within such a general context, particular interests or questions for this seminar include:
•    How do musical and performance practices share similar experiences with contemporary conceptions and practices of time? What consequences has this relationship for the composer and for the performer?
•    How does the composer imagine, organize and transmit the temporal dimension of music?
•    Is there any relationship between systems of pitches (or musical material in general) and the temporality of music?
•    Does electronic music and the use of electronic instruments involve a special relationship to musical time different than that of the human voice or acoustic instruments?
•    What is the impact of music notation on musical rhythm and temporality? Is there a significant difference between oral and written composition in the structuring of rhythm and time?
•    How important is the oral transmission of knowledge regarding musical time today?


Wednesday, 25 February




Peter Dejans, Welcome


Tiziano Manca, Seminar Presentation


Keynote speech

Dorit Tanay – Marchetto da Padua and the Making of the Modern Composer




Andrew Lawrence King - A baroque history of Time: Stars, hearts & Tactus


John Irving – How time flies: making sense of notated sounds and rests in Haydn's solo keyboard sonatas


Robert Hill – Kairos as Paradigm: Timing as Structured Improvisation in Francois Couperin's L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin




Keynote speech

Gianmario Borio – On Constructing Musical Time: Philosophical and Compositional Implications of a Key Question for Twentieth Century Music





Martin Scherzinger – Piano Etudes (2012-2014) (20')
Bobby Mitchell, piano
Martin Scherzinger – The Typewriter Opera (2012) [video] (15')
Tiziano Manca, Stur for guitar (10')
Nico Couck, guitar


Brian Ferneyhough – Kurze Schatten II (8')
Diego Castro Magas, guitar
Morton Feldman – Palais de Mari
Catherine Laws, piano (25')

Thursday, 26 February


Keynote speech

Martin Scherzinger – Algorithms of Musical Time (from Biopower to Neuropower)


Catherine Laws – Neither: between time and memory at the piano. (For Bob)




Eric Maestri – Analogical and Digital Musical Time Projections


Martin Scheuregger – Inventing fragments, manipulating time


Danielle Sofer – “I Keep Memory at Arm’s Length”: Erotic Possibilities of Time-Stretching in Electroacoustic Music




Liam Flenady – The Ideology of Polyphonic Time


Jan Michiels – Performing Picture Puzzles


Floris Schuiling – ‘Making, Not Filling Time’: Improvisation, Notation and the Mediation of Temporalities




Nicholas Brown – From the Temporality of Pulse to the Generation of Sounds


Diego Castro Magas – Walter Benjamin’s concept of historical time in Brian Ferneyhough’s guitar music


Wrap up (Bill Brooks)



Tiziano Manca, Paulo de Assis and Bob Gilmore†.


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