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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000382.txt from 1996/04

From: Scott Reiss <sagr9@-----.NET>
Subj: Forwarded mail....
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 1996 11:39:15 -0400

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 1996 11:33:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: Scott Reiss <>

Members of the Clarinet listserv,

Not a member of your group, not even a musician, I'm just an
amature with a weird theory to try out on your more schooled minds. It's a
long and gory tale involving baseball, barstools and many other unlikely
things starting with the letter B, but I'll spare you the details. It
basically begins with my thinking about the internal clock of musical
works in purely quantitative terms, leaving out therefore a priori all
qualitative notations such as allegro, adagio etc. The three empirical,
quantitative facts of musical notation are the number of beats per
measure, the value of the beat (the two elements of the time signature)
and the number of measures. What I have done is to count these three units
in two pieces for purposes of comparison, the first and third of
Stravinsky's Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. First I have counted the
number of measures for each time signature, as follows:


2/4 9 2/4 17
5/8 12 5/16 11
7/8 2 3/16 8
3/8 2 3/8 14
3/4 4 2/8 3
2/8 1 3/4 4
5/8 2
4/16 1

Simple arithmatic leads me to the following statement concerning the total
number of beats in each piece expressed in whole notes. The first piece
contains 17 6/8 whole note beats and the third contains 23 13/16 whole
note beats. This suggests to me that the latter is "longer" by 6 3/16
whole note beats. Dividing the totals for each piece by the number of
measures (17 6/8 / 30 and 23 13/16 / 60) gives me the average time
signature or "speed" of each piece, respectively 71/120 beats per measure
or approximately 5/8 time and 383/960 beats per measure or approximately
3/8 time. The former piece is thus "faster" by 37/192 beats per measure or
approximately 2/8 time. There may be careless errors in these
calculations, for I am neither a musician nor a mathematician, but a
linguist. Indeed I can barely read music. What I'd like is some feedback
on whether any or this is new or surprizing or meaningful. I know it's
right, as far as it goes, but I don't know if it tells us anything useful
about the two pieces of music and about music's internal clock as a whole.
Please let me know what you think. Thank you.

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

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