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Author: Helen Sills

Abstract

It has been suggested that time is a description of movement and relative change measured or compared against a standard, whether against sun and clocks in the physical world, or against mental constructs, such as the human experience of a subjective ‘now’. The human brain perceives rates of motion and change through both its sensory systems and its higher order processing pathways, and it seems, is uniquely equipped by its structures to derive a range of temporalities across both the physical and non-material worlds. Because we are perceptive and creative in both physical and abstract domains, we are able to make precise clock-time measurements and evaluate the effects of motion and forces in physical space (as in Einstein’s Theories of Relativity) and also distinguish the subjective temporalities that emerge as different qualities of motion expand our mental space to construct abstract meaning.

This paper looks at the movement patterns of Stravinsky’s ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’, a musical score for the ‘Ballets Russes’ which caused a riot at its première at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in May, 1913. With hindsight, its first audience was much disturbed, perhaps not only by the highly dissonant sounds accompanying ‘primitive’ movements and the act of self-sacrifice, but also subliminally, by the work’s stark portrayal of pure temporalities: its activity, structure and organised complexity exposed them—and still exposes us, 100 years later—to the raw process of being and becoming, to both actual and emergent temporalities. In the course of ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’, Stravinsky’s organisation of motion, of both rhythm and pitch, transforms our temporal experience from that of the here and now, the physical ‘closeness between man and earth’, to that of the highly abstract ‘triumph of the human spirit’, in what he called ‘a single endless dialogue, an inconceivable conversation’. The means by which, and the point at which each of the four levels of organised movement emerges, is interesting in the light of our ability to construct temporality in both the physical and non-material realms. At the reductionist level, the work’s movement away from the ‘here and now’ invites connections and relations with current ideas about time in physics, while its marriage of rhythms in sound and space, its association of sound and gesture, and its organisation of motion creates a temporal entity whose effect upon the psyche is consistent with what is now known about the brain’s higher-order processing of music and movement.

In: KronoScope
In: Time: Limits and Constraints
In: Time and Trace: Multidisciplinary Investigations of Temporality
Author: Helen Sills

Abstract

The human brain is capable of experiencing highly complex auditory imagery. Musicians find it valuable to mentally rehearse the auditory image of a piece of music, in the absence of the orchestra or instrument, to help perfect their actual physical performance of it. For this, the auditory image must first be founded on a perfect memory of all the work's musical aspects, and then 'lived- through &#160;in a very finely-judged realisation of its movement in time, so that all its precision or expressive flexibility of tempo and qualities of meaning are fully released.<br /><br />Two neural processes shed light on the trained musician's ability to reproduce the duration of a mental rehearsal with great accuracy: the generation of firing patterns searching for pattern and symmetry, and the coherence behaviour of music processing units in the higher wave-bands. In the light of these two processes, I comment on the experience of mentally rehearsing 'Prélude á L'Aprés-midi d'un Faune', and 'Symphonies of Wind Instruments', and on the organising relationships which heighten the temporal aspects to produce a strong auditory form.

In: KronoScope
Author: Helen Sills
If, as Robert Craft remarked, ‘religious beliefs were at the core of Stravinsky’s life and work’, why have they not figured more prominently in discussions of his works?
Stravinsky’s coordination of the listener with time is central to the unity of his compositional style. This ground-breaking study looks at his background in Russian Orthodoxy, at less well-known writings of Arthur Lourié and Pierre Souvtchinsky and at the Catholic philosophy of Jacques Maritain, that shed light on the crucial link between Stravinsky’s spirituality and his restoration of time in music.
Recent neuroscience research supports Stravinsky’s eventual adoption of serialism as the natural and logical outcome of his spiritual and musical quest.
In: Stravinsky, God, and Time
In: Stravinsky, God, and Time
In: Stravinsky, God, and Time
In: Stravinsky, God, and Time
In: Stravinsky, God, and Time