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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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6 The zone of ecological time


6.1 The cycles of ecological time

The large zone of ecological time is divided into three smaller zones: the zone of the diurnal cycle, the zone of the lunar cycle and the zone of the annual cycle. The times of day and seasons of the year, and to a lesser extent also the quarters of the moon, impose upon us a fixed temporal rhythm and, depending on climatic conditions and the type of culture, exert some form of influence on human activity, including musical activity. Ecological time constitutes the natural calendar of our environment, underpinning all historically and culturally conditioned formalised calendars. Even without them people are able to accurately assess their current place in ecological time, their diurnal, lunar or annual present. The fixed rhythm of the cycles of ecological time orders our past, enabling us to locate past events with relative precision, and the regularity of its sequence makes it possible to predict future time. Those properties relate, of course, to the dynamic character of time, time as a continuum, as a succession of changes, the contextual time in which segments of time are juxtaposed with other segments of the same sequence. That time is best represented by an axis of arithmetic time, extending from the infinite past to the infinite future, delimited by our present.

Ecological time considered in terms of dynamic time flows along on three levels at different speeds, marked by the length of the diurnal, lunar and annual...

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