In And Out Of Time

  • Richard Blackford

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The submission consists of six musical compositions and a supporting commentary of 15,000 words.

The works explore the handling of musical time in a variety of different contexts. Cross-rhythms, polyrhythm, polymetre and polytempo are the principal areas of research. In certain works, especially Polymetric Studies, consideration is given to the illusion of polytempo, the displacement of the universal pulse to deliberately disorientate the listener, the dramatic effect achieved by such disorientation and the re-establishment of the universal pulse. The commentary demonstrates how the works are underpinned by research into examples as early as Beethoven and Berlioz up to the minimalism of Reich, and Ligeti’s assimilation of his ethno-musical studies of sub-Saharan African music. Consideration is also given to music actually conceived and scored in simultaneous multiple tempi, from Ives to Stockhausen and Birtwistle. The composition portfolio includes examples of “limited aleatorism” (eg. Lutoslawski), illusory motifs (eg. Ligeti), polymetric patterns created by irregularly-grouped note cycles within a unified tempo, as well as large-scale structures, notably Kalon, in which simultaneous unrelated tempi are consistently juxtaposed in both tonal/modal and atonal contexts.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJohn Pickard (Supervisor)

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