Time is a funny thing. How well do we really understand its nature when all we know is how we perceive it? Theories have been bandied about ranging from existence to non-existence in the forms of a clock or an illusion, respectively.
When playing music, I feel that there is something malleable about time. It is not a question of its existence. Rather, it feels bendable. One’s sense of speed can change considerably throughout a piece as tempos and time signatures shift.
Take, for instance, this rendition of Beethoven’s 9th symphony extended to 24 hours. Over the course of about half an hour, I am fascinated that though it becomes “ambient” in nature, it remains gripping.
Some pieces suffer when their speeds are changed. Others seem as though they are simply being held under a different light.
This is not to say that the pace of a piece is irrelevant. DJ’s, for example, are very cognizant of the speed of music as a crowd can be very sensitive to tempo. In another sound world altogether, most classical music generally has a beat per minute marker written to guide the performer.
But, some pieces hold up as beautiful works regardless of speed, while others do not.
For those works that maintain the ability to bend, time only adds a texture or flavor to some inherent Truth or Beauty that resides between and behind the symbols of sounds. What is it then about a piece that makes it work well, if not related to time?
What gives good music timelessness?
How does music transcend years or centuries – speaking to and carrying through the emotions of generations unborn and unknown?
A piece of music houses an emotion distilled in the moments of composition, designed to echo within the hearts of those with patience and focus. With enough Attention by Artist and Audience upon this fertile land of sound, a piece of music becomes a world of its own and as such dictates its own rules of physics and time.