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"...the seldom-heard contrabass flute, an instrument that, in the hands of Ned McGowan, is capable of everything from near breathless calm to driving bass riffs that propel the orchestra forward."

 - Brighternow - emusers.org


In 2016 I began work on an artistic research PhD at Leiden University / Orpheus Institute via DocARTES program. Supervisors: Henk Borgdorff, Marcel Cobussen and Richard Barrett.

The Human Speed of Music

Speed, as a function of time, is full of enlightening musical character. Take some common terms to describe tempo in music: largo (broadly), adagio (slow and stately), allegro (fast, quickly and bright), vivacissimo (very fast and lively). Speed is relational and reveals how we think and feel. It is innately human.
My aim in this artistic research is to dissect the experience of speed in music. Taking artistic and pedagogic experience as starting points, the research will consider the embodiment of rhythm and duration as experienced by practicing musicians and utilized by composers, exploring neurophysiological questions such as how temporal resolution relates to human physiology, the relationship between speed and emotion, the difference between physical and mental mechanisms for tracking time, and the length of a ‘moment’. The areas of performance, composition and notation as they relate to speed in music will be explored both scientifically and artistically.

The outcomes of this research include an analysis and catalog of the various rhythmical frames employed to manipulate speed in live music such as tuplets, traditional and ‘irrational’ meters, tempo, polytempos, pulses, polypulses, polyrhythms, additive frames, divisive frames, metric modulation, time brackets, etc.... Further, a study of speed within contemporary music works will reveal its general qualities and possibilities next to a body of new own compositions exploring possibilities opened by the research.

There is a visceral sensation to speed that gives rise to its expressive power, whether extremely slow, virtuosic blister, in a solitary line, in multiple simultaneous strata or in the profound absence of speed in the form of silence. It is these inherent qualities that I would like to fully excavate, shine a light on and hopefully reinvent in this research.

View 'PhD' on researchcatalogue.net.

Keywords: music, speed, composition, performance, notation, frame, neurophysiology, perception