Some quotes (written and musical) concerning the nature of Time in music:

‘What is time for a musician? What is the flux of time which passes invisibly and impalpable? In truth, we seize it only with the help of perceptive reference-events, thus indirectly, and under the condition that these reference-events be inscribed somewhere and do not disappear without leaving a trace.’ Iannis Xenakis in Formalized Music (New York, 1990)

‘Music consists of order-relationships in time’; stating that ‘an entire piece can be imagined as the one time-spectrum of a single fundamental duration.’ Karlheinz Stockhausen in ‘How Time Passes (die Reihe, 1957)

‘The rhythm of pre-20th century European art music cannot be simply expressed in a single line of crotchets and quavers but that, intimately bound up with the pitches through which they are expressed, rhythm and tonality build a multi-layered time-space, with the harmonic tonic, or main key-note, acting as the rough equivalent of a vanishing point in visual perspective, and with the rhythmic superpositions (from individual cell down through phrase, sentence, paragraph, up to section and beyond) building a multi-dimensional cosmic clock at the very heart of the music, pulsing life through its whole fabric, even in an unaccompanied partita.’ Peter Maxwell Davies in Will Serious Music Become Extinct? (London, 2005)

Extract from a Bach Partita demonstrating a ‘multi-layered time-space’

Extract from Ravel’s Bolero demonstrating Bernstein’s idea of a free-flowing melodic line with an obvious and fundamental beat or sense of pulse that provides the vital underlying framework for contrast and variation.

Extract from the Sacrificial Dance in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with its jagged and irregular units of time.

Extract from a Ferneyhough String Quartet with more complex temporal elements.