Syllabus: MUS 253B

UC Santa Cruz—Spring 2015  (course# 42254] [ B. L. Carson email / faculty page ]

Thursdays 4:00 - 7:00 PM in Music Center 245

Office hours (Music Center 148):  Mon 11:30-1:00 PM; Tues 3:00-4:00 PM


Traditional and experimental rhythmic and temporal systems representing diverse cultures, with emphasis on unmeasured, divisive, additive, and multilayer practices in cultural context. Students will examine rhythmic composition, improvisation, and rubato performance in selected cultures, and study rhythm notation and transcription systems.


Somehow the course title makes sense: In the broadest sense of the word, a rhythm is a perceived distribution of events in time; rhythm counts musical form as one of its manifestations. (If a rhythm is any organization of aural experience through time, then a form can be heard as one such organization.) 

Down closer to earth, the term “rhythm” in music usually refers to a play of timespans in our immediate sensory experience. If this play implies or defines a pulse, it can compel us to tap our feet; if repeated, a rhythm can be motivic; in this way rhythm is part of what helps music to promote social unity and identity. One of our goals in the course is to inquire a little more deeply into what kinds of rhythmic experience arise in widely divergent material and cultural conditions. What does Korean ritual dance ask of us, as listeners or participants, in the realm of rhythm, order for its ritual purpose to be fulfilled? How do we experience the rhythm of cadential harmonic movement differerently from that of sequential or prolongational harmonic movement, in court and church music of the 17th century? In North Indian classical music, what are some differences between experiences of rhythm pedagogy and experiences of rhythm in performance?

Another of our goals will be to look critically at assumptions that flow naturally—but not always usefully—from our musical practices. For conscious appraisal of timespans in rhythm (for foot-tapping or motive-tracing) there are lower and upper limits of timespan length: Streams of timspans below about 1/20 of a second occur only as fields of experience, from which we perceive pitch and timbre emerging. (We study these “rhythms” as waveforms with frequencies and amplitudes.) On the other end of the spectrum, timespans longer than a few seconds usually cease to form the grouped relationships that characterize musical rhythm, starting to register instead as form—they separate whole expressions, perhaps phrases or sections within a larger narrative of listening.* Are these boundaries fixed across all situations and material conditions, and are there productive ambiguities on these boundaries? Does hierarchy (or its opposite, heterarchy) within or across those boundaries help determine what we expect of musical form?

This course is designed to expose students of musicology and composition to a small sample of writing on rhythm, time, and form; represented fields include music theory, critical theory, experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and analytic philosophy. Supplementing each 1-2 week “unit” of readings below, each student will choose from among a range of informal transcription, analysis, or composition exercises; final projects will be an analytical or pre-compositional studies chosen in consultation with the instructor.

*Some composers, taking cues from the music of Morton Feldman and others, add a fourth field of temporal experience, in which (under certain conditions) even longer timespans cease to occur as form, and must be apprehended as scale.

Below are some readings and assignments, to be modified from week to week, appropriate to our discussions. Wewon’t get through all these readings. Readings will be assigned weekly on the basis of the developing priorities of the seminarians.


UNIT I—Ecological and Psychological Perspectives

(April 2 & 9)

Whitow, G. J. “The Significance of Time.” Chapter 8 in What is Time? New York: Oxford University, 1972.

Gopher D, Iani C. “Attention,” in Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. London: Nature Publishing Company, 2002.

Bispham, John. “Rhythm in Music: What is it? Who has it? And Why?” In Music Perception, Volume 24, Issue 2, December 2006, pp. 125–134.

Clayton, Martin R. L. “Free Rhythm: Ethnomusicology and the Study of Music without Metre.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 59, No. 2 (1996), pp. 323-332.


: Explore sound in your environment, emphasizing sounds whose temporality doesn’t allow you to make easy assumptions about rhythmic organization. Bring recordings to seminar.

: Explain at least one recording in terms of time as a fixed dimension in which events occur, and at least one (it can be the same one if you like) in terms of time as an illusion without value independent of phenomena. The prior links are examples of approaches to this assignment; if you missed seminar on January 15, complete the readings thoroughly above and save this segment of the assignmnet for January 29.


Further reading:

Comment/Response: (to Bispham) Rodger Graham’s “Music as Socio-emotional Confluence: A Comment on Bispham,” and John Bispham’s “Music as Socio-Affective Confluential Communication? Response to Graham,” in Music Perception, Volume 25 No. 2, December 2007, pp. 167-168; 169-170.

McAdams, S., and Matzkin, D. (2003). “The roots of musical variation in perceptional similarity and invariance.” In I. Peretz & R. J. Zatorre (Eds.), The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 76-94.

Desain, P. & Honig, H. “Computational Models of Beat-induction: the Rule-based Approach.” In Journal of New Music Research, 28(1), 1999, pp. 29–42.

Clarke, Eric F. “Categorical Rhythm Perception: an Ecological Perspective.” In Action and Perception in Rhythm and Music (Alf Gabrielsson, ed.), pp. 19-33. Stockholm: Royal Swedish Academy of Music, 1987.

Jones, Mari Riess & Boltz, Marilyn. “Dynamic Attending and Responses to Time,” in Psychological Review, 1989, Vol. 96. No. 3, 459-491.


UNIT II—Language and Melodic Rhythm

To allow the materials to stretch, marinate, breathe, ___ (insert chosen metaphor), etc., we’ll work through Units I and II simultaneously in weeks 3-6.

Patel, Anirudh. (2006.) “Musical Rhythm, Linguistic Rhythm, and Human Evolution.” Music Perception 24/1. 99–104

Patel, Aniruddh D. Excerpts pp 118-158 from Chapter 3 (Rhythm): “Rhythm in Speech,” “Interlude: Rhythm and Poetry in Song,” and 190-196 only (Section 4.2.1-4.2.3) from Chapter 4 “Melody,” of Music, Language, and the BrainOxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Daniele, Joseph, and Patel, Anirudh. (2004.) “The Interplay of Linguistic and Historical Influences on Musical Rhythm in Different Cultures.” Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, Evanston IL, 2004.


Ashley, R. “Do[n’t] Change a Hair for Me: the Art of Jazz Rubato.” Music Perception, 2002, 19, 311–322.

Agawu, V. Kofi. “The Rhythmic Structure of West African Music,” in the Journal of Musicology, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Summer, 1987), pp. 400-418.

Schachter, Carl (1999). Excerpts of Chapter 1: “A preliminary study,” [Electronic resource*] in “Rhythm and Linear Analysis,” Part I of Unfoldings. New York: Oxford. pp 17-30, 36-43. 


Schumann—In der Fremde Op. 39 No. 1:  [SCORERECORDINGS: [Marjana Lipovsek] [Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau] [TEXT

Schubert—Erster Verlust D. 226 [SCORERECORDINGS: [Ian Bostridge][Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau] [TEXT]


Further Reading: 

Leach, Elizabeth Eva. “Form, Counterpoint, and Meaning in a Fourteenth Century French Courtly Song,” in Analytical and Cross-cultural studies in World Music. New York: Oxford, 2011.

Spillman, Robert and Stein, Deborah. Chapter 8: “Rhythm and Meter.” In Poetry Into Song: Performance and Analysis of Lieder. pp 167-190. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Huron, David, and Royal, Matthew. “What is Melodic Accent? Converging Evidence from Musical Practice.” In Music Perception Summer 1996, Vol. 13, No. 4, 489-516.

Kramer, Jonathan. “Meter and Rhythm.” Chapter 4 in The Time of Music. New York: Schirmer, 1988.

Kubik, Gerhard. “The Cognitive Study of African Musical Rhythm,” Chapter 6 of Theory of African Music, Volume 2.  


UNIT III—Phenomena, Time, and Image

To allow the materials to stretch, marinate, breathe, ___ (insert chosen metaphor), etc., we’ll work through Units I and II simultaneously in weeks 3-6.

Prospectus: Prepare an 8-minute presentation, consisting of: (1) 4 minutes: ask a question that points toward your larger interests in rhythm, time, and/or form, and elaborate briefly; (2) 4 minutes: propose the scope and goals of a final project for this seminar.

Deleuze, Gilles. “Repetition for Itself,” Ch. 2 of Difference and Repetition [1968], trans. by Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University, 1994), pp 70-128. (Focus on pp. 79-85 for introduction of the 1st and 2nd syntheses of time; the 3rd synthesis is introduced on pp. 88-91.)

Williams, James. “The first synthesis of time,” and “The second synthesis of time”; Chs. 2 and 3 of Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy of Time: A Critical Introduction and Guide (Edinborough: Edinborough University Press, 2011), pp. 21-50.



Deleuze, Gilles. “Duration as Immediate Datum.” Chapter 2 of Bergsonism. Trans. by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Brooklyn: Urzone, 1988) pp 37-50.

Supportive readings:

Bergson, Henri. “Matter and Memory” (for reference only)

Trifonova, Temenuga. “A Nonhuman Eye: Deleuze on Cinema.” In SubStance 33.2 (2004) 134-152.

Deamer, David. “A Deleuzian Cineosis: Cinematic Semiosis and Syntheses of Time” in Deleuze Studies 5.3 (2011): 358–382.

Deleuze, Gilles. “Beyond the Movement Image,” “Recapitulation of Images and Signs,” and “From Recollections to Dreams: Third Commentary on Bergson” (Chapters 1-3 of) Cinema 2: The Time Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1989. pp 1-55.

II. Hesselink, Nathan. “Rhythm and Folk Drumming (P’ungmul) as the Musical Embodiment of Communal Consciousness,” [follow links below for text] in Analytical and Cross-cultural studies in World Music. New York: Oxford, 2011. pp d 263-287

Reading/Listening: Password access only [see email 2/7/13]: various Reading and Listening associated with P’ungmul. 

Further reading:

[Partially covered in seminar:] Deliege, Irene. “Grouping Conditions in Listening to Music: An Approach to Lerdahl & Jackendoff’s Grouping Preference Rules.” in Music Perception 1987, Vol. 4 No. 4, 325-360 and Temperley, D. “Metrical Structure,” In The Cognition of Basic Musical Structures. Cambridge: MIT, 2001. pp. 23-54. 

Goodridge,  Janet. Excerpts from Rhythm and Timing of Movement in Performance: Drama, Dance and Ceremony. London: Jessica Kingsley, 1999.

Deleuze, Gilles (1975). “Making Inaudible Forces Audible,” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975-1995. Cambridge: MIT Semiotext(e), 2006. pp. 156-160.

Deleuze, Gilles (1975). “To Occupy Without Counting: Boulez, Proust, and Time,” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975-1995. Cambridge: MIT Semiotext(e), 2006. pp. 292-299.



UNIT IV—Hindustani Music & Additive Rhythm

guest: Dard Neuman 

Jairazbhoy, Nazir. Excerpts pp 3-15, 32-45 of The Rāgs of North Indian Music: Their Structure and Evolution.Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1995 [First Edition London: Faber & Faber, 1971.]

Wade, Bonnie. Excerpts of Music in India: The Classical Traditions New York: Prentice-Hall,1979; reprinted Riverdale/Simon and Schuster, 1987; second edition, Manohar, 1997.

Lester, Joel. “Notated and Heard Meter” in Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring - Summer, 1986, pp. 116-128

Listening: The order of videos linked below is intentional; please listen to them continuously (perhaps a few per day). You do not need to listen to full performances—instead, spend enough time on each to digest some of its rhythmic characteristics before moving to the next.


1) Dagar Brothers, instrument (Vocal), genre (Dhrupad)

2) Asad Ali Khan, instrument (Veena), genre (Dhrupad)

3) Z.M. Dagar, instrument (Veena), genre (Dhrupad)

4) Imrat Khan, instrument (Surbahar), genre (Dhrupad)


1) Amir Khan, instrument (Vocal), genre (Khayal)

2) Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, instrument (Vocal), genre (Khayal)


1) Ali Akbar Khan (sarod) and Swapan Chaudhuri (Tabla)—> start at 19:00

2) Vilayat Khan (sitar) & Ali Ahmed Khan (Shehnai)

3) Shujaat Khan (sitar) and Partho Saraty (Sarod)


1) Siddeswari Devi (vocal)

2) Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (vocal)

3) Vilayat Khan (sitar) —> start at 2:40. Imagery is feudal nostalgia.


1) Begum Akhtar (Vocal) —>start at 2:00

2) Shujaat Khan (Vocal and Sitar)

Further reading:

Griffiths, Paul. Excerpts TBA from Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time. Cornell University Press, 1985

Messaien, Olivier. “Mode de valeurs et d’intensités,” No. 2 in Quatre études de rythme. Paris: Durand, 2000.