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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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5 The zone of works and performances


5.1 The range of the zone and a synthetic table

The third large zone on the systemic (logarithmic) axis of time, indispensable to every musical objectivisation, is the zone of works and performances. The eight-tuz rhythm of the large zones dictates the distinction of regions 4 and 12 as the border regions and region 8 as the central region. Region 12, as we have seen, does indeed fulfil such a function, and even quite distinctly. In that region, such formal elements as long phrases and musical lines, essentially still of limited independence, mingle with works that are distinctly independent in the form of short musical verses or stanzas. Region 8 stands out in particular, especially in contemporary mass musical culture. It is here that we find the central zone of popular songs, hits, dance works and light music, but also many works of art music. Perhaps less obvious, but still noticeable, is the liminal character of region 4. This is where essentially cohesive, self-contained musical works end; larger works generally require distinct breaks for relaxation, lasting at least several minutes. Such long organised musical times are clearly influenced by another central region, delimited by region 0, featuring the rhythm of day and night, which bears a decisive influence on the organisation of human time.

Example 5.1 Zone of musical works and performances. Key: (1–3) Duration of stanzas of folk songs: 1. Stanzas of Polish folk songs, number of songs...

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