Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sethares on Rhythm

I can recommend William Sethares's Rhythm and Transforms (Springer 2007), especially the earlier chapters which have as clear an exposition of the complex issues of perception and musical time — our ability to deal simultaneously with multiple levels of time in particular — as I've seen. For those of you who know Sethares's landmark Tuning Timbre Spectrum Scale, his approach, as an engineer and a musician, will be familiar, but it's still a refreshing way to look at some issues fundamental to music. While the book's grand trajectory — toward machine recognition of rhythmic activity — is more directly of interest to engineers than for musicians, there's plenty of real musical interest along the way. One warning, like most books intended for academic library purchases, this one is expensive, so it's likely to be library reading for most of us.

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