A Technical History
This chapter aims to flesh out the early modern, motion-driven theory of the beat through a focus on the act of beating itself and the conceptual work it accomplished. It argues that the beat should be understood as a technical and physical solution to an ongoing problem in the conceptualization of temporal continuity. The physical act of the beat, a motion with its own continuity, provided a scaffold upon which to construct the continuity of musical time. As such, the beat served as a kind of tool or technique for those who aimed to explain the tenets of practical music theory. A concept with material and physical heft, the beat is an important part of the history of musical technologies. The chapter concludes with a careful rereading of Zarlino, paying particular attention to the medical and philosophical discourses he cites in his chapter on the beat in Le istitutioni harmoniche.
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