Rationalizing musical time: syntactic and symbolic-numeric approaches

Bernard Bel

A con­tri­bu­tion to The Ratio Symposium, 14-16 Dec. 1992, Den Haag (The Netherlands). Published in Barlow, Clarence (ed.) The Ratio Book. Den Haag: Royal Conservatory - Institute of Sonology. 2001: 86-101. This paper is ref­er­enced on HAL ⟨hal-00134179⟩ and quot­ed in Polymetric struc­tures.


This paper deals with var­i­ous prob­lems of quan­ti­fy­ing musi­cal time that arise both in the analy­sis of tra­di­tion­al drum­ming and in computer-generated musi­cal pieces based on “sound-objects”, i.e. sequences of code that con­trol a real-time sound processor.

Section 1 sug­gests that syn­tac­tic approach­es may be clos­er to the intu­itions of musi­cians and musi­col­o­gists than com­mon­ly advo­cat­ed numer­i­cal approach­es. Furthermore, symbolic-numerical approach­es lead to effi­cient and ele­gant solu­tions of con­straint sat­is­fac­tion prob­lems with respect to sym­bol­ic and phys­i­cal dura­tions, as illus­trat­ed in Sections 2 and 3, respectively.

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