A great explanation of the responsibilities of musical time.
[First published in the Broad Street Review, 19 Nov 2013, as “It’s all in the timing.”]
Comedy is all about timing. So is music.
Since timing is so crucial, you’d think that music notation—the composer’s language—would be accurate. But notation isn’t as precise as you’d think. It doesn’t speak so much as it hints, points, glances. It does very well relating elements to each other, but all those arcs, lines, and dots plotted on music paper, all the pictographs precisely drawn, and all the foreign terms spelled out, can’t cover the fact that making music is an inexact occupation.
The fermata exemplifies this perfectly. It’s the “bird’s eye” over a note to tell the performer to hold that note…
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