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Time in Music and Culture


Ludwik Bielawski

From Aristotle to Heidegger, philosophers distinguished two orders of time, before, after and past, present, future, presenting them in a wide range of interpretations. It was only around the turn of the 1970s that two theories of time which deliberately went beyond that tradition, enhancing our notional apparatus, were produced independently of one another. The nature philosopher Julius T. Fraser, founder of the interdisciplinary International Society for the Study of Time, distinguished temporal levels in the evolution of the Cosmos and the structure of the human mind: atemporality, prototemporality, eotemporality, biotemporality and nootemporality. The author of the book distinguishes two ‘dimensions’ in time: the dimension of the sequence of time (syntagmatic) and the dimension of the sizes of duration or frequency (systemic). On the systemic scale, the author distinguishes, in human ways of existing and acting, a visual zone, zone of the psychological present, zone of works and performances, zone of the natural and cultural environment, zone of individual and social life and zone of history, myth and tradition. In this book, the author provides a synthesis of these theories.

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4 The zone of the psychological present


The zone of the psychological present holds the central position among the three large zones that are indispensable in every musical objectivisation. It borders on one side with the zone of musical note pitches (dependent on vibration frequency) and on the other with the zone of works. As already mentioned, the border regions of the zone of the psychological present are regions 20 and 12, and at its centre lies region 16. The musical phenomena contained in this large zone are quite diverse. It is here, above all, that the sound flow of music unfolds. Practically speaking, only long-held drone notes can go beyond this zone, although it also covers such phenomena as bars and motifs, and its boundary is defined by long lines or melodic phrases, whose role in the overall construction of musical works is of limited independence. Musical phrases belong to the next zone.

Perhaps the only homogeneous temporal musical phenomenon, covering the whole zone of the psychological present, is note duration, so the name ‘zone of note duration’ would also be justified. Of course, not in every kind of music is such a great diversity of note durations employed, but examples can be found in certain styles, and also in styles of folk music. It is easiest for me to refer to so-called Mongolian long songs, since this is one of the aspects considered in relation to those songs by J. Katarzyna Dadak-Kozicka.52 Those songs are distinguished on one hand...

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