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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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The Beat:

The Beat:

A Technical History

(p.43) Chapter Two The Beat:
Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era

Roger Mathew Grant

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   beat, tactus, battuta, hand, Zarlino, Aristotle, technique, technology

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