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Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era$
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Roger Mathew Grant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367283

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199367283.001.0001

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Beating Time

Beating Time

Chapter One Beating Time
Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era

Roger Mathew Grant

Oxford University Press

Writers on music in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries conceptualized meter through motion. Their primary mode of theorizing meter was through the physical act of beating time. Although today the English term 'beat carries two separate meanings' the one a strike, the other an interval of time, these meanings were not at all separate for thinkers before the eighteenth century. Time for these thinkers was a way to count or number motion, as the Aristotelian commentators put it. Writings on time in natural philosophy and writings on meter were part of a group of knowledge relationships grounded in the Scholastic concept of motus (which meant both motion and change). This chapter examines how these relationships were created, sanctioned, and controlled in the period's music theory, providing close readings of texts by Ornithoparchus, Zarlino, Lippius, and Loulié.

Keywords:   beat, tactus, battuta, Aristotle, motus, Scholasticism, Ornithoparchus, Zarlino, Lippius, Loulié

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