The perceptual notation of musical time

Andrei Covaciu-Pogorilowski

Bucharest, Romania

This communication will outline a method by which musicians will not only be able to understand musical time from a perceptual point of view, but also to notate it correspondingly. The initial premise is that the rhythmical notation in use today, on the one hand, tells us little about the perceptual background of the pulsatory structures it illustrates and, on the other, it reflects scantly our overall competence (the term must be apprehended from a generative grammar point of view) to produce discrete time, thus limiting musicians’ virtually large possibilities for temporal communication. In the same time, the rich literature dedicated to musical time perception, production and cognition has reached a point whence it can back up an exhaustive and systematic approach for most of perceptual phenomena extant within the human temporal scope. The only missing element in this ‘landscape’ is a musical semiography to reflect directly these phenomena and, as such, to transform them from objects of scientific study into a workable musical language / communication tool.

Different pulsatory structures defined by temporal perception can be converted into graphical symbols by means of the zeuxilogic (i.e. perceptual) notation. The basic procedure for that (perception phenomenon - corresponding pulsatory structure - graphical representation) can be applied to many time-related perceptual phenomena, thus a pathway being opened towards a coherent system of musical time perceptual notation.

A semiography to reflect directly temporal perception phenomena is valuable to the extent it is accepted and used, by a sufficient number of musicians, to communicate, illustrate and define various pulsatory structures and temporalities. It is thus that the notation can become a valid communication tool. If that will happen, I can foresee the following: