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Software for exploring the notational space of metric malleability

presented at TENOR, Zurich, 2024

Conventional notation consists of sequences of notes and rests that potentially fit into multiple metrical frameworks. The same rhythmic durations are however differently notated and interpreted in different metrical contexts. The research project explores this metrical ambiguity of rhythmic sequences and transforms it into a space of possible metric notations. It is based on the idea that every pulse-based rhythmic pattern is metrically malleable, i.e. it can be embedded in multiple metric frameworks.

The tool creates Lilypond scripts to print rhythmic staffs in varying meters. The current beta version and updated information on the state of software development will be published here soon.

The poster presented together with the tool at TENOR 2024 introduces the concept and the notational output of the application, highlighting the aspects that span the dimensions of metric malleability. One aspect is the hierarchic architecture of a metric framework, the metric type. A general categorization separates simple and mixed metric types. The former consist of isochronous metric periods on all metric levels, whereas the latter feature categorically different periods on at least one level that consist of different numbers of periods of a faster, isochronous level (e.g. 2 + 2 + 3). A second dimension is the variation of size relations between combined rhythmic and metric cycles, e.g. by augmenting the rhythmic or metric structure or by combining cycles of different cardinalities. The third aspect that multiplies the variety of possible notations is metric rotation, that is, rhythmic phase shift related to the metric framework.

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