Research supervisors: Samuel Vriezen and Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec
Master circle leaders: Samuel Vriezen, Yannis Kyriakides, Peter Adriaansz,
and Alison Isadora
Main subject teachers: Yannis Kyriakides and Jan van de Putte
Royal Conservatoire The Hague
Temporal authority and temporal anarchy 4
How to not understand time 7
Durée et temps 7
The measure is the message 8
Rhythmist’s take 9
Feeling and not understanding 12
Lost in translation 15
Going backward 15
How to be late 18
Simultaneity and succession: duality 18
Simultaneity and succession: transformation 21
Different place, different time 22
Many songs 25
Two songs 26
Two more songs 29
Four songs 31
Up to fifteen songs 31
Four more songs 34
Conclusion. Further explorations 37
Appendix. Notes on organizing the Spring Festival Online 41
General streaming protocol for the festival 42
Festival program and technical set-ups of each piece 45
Recordings and general information about the festival 48
Useful resources 48
To help my waking up problem I started placing my alarm clock on the op-
posite end of my room from where I sleep. Once I woke up by myself, with-
out having heard the alarm. I was trying to ﬁgure out whether I woke up too
early or too late, but there was no clock by my side. Behind the window was
the usual winter sky covered with a thick layer of clouds, so I could not tell
where the sun was. My body did not give me any signals either. I was not
hungry and I could not tell how much awake I was to guess how many hours
had I slept. It even seemed impossible to guess how much time ago had I
woken up. There was nothing to measure time against and I had been le
only with my intuition.
Another example. The clocks on Dutch train stations have a peculiar
quality about them: their second hands move somewhat faster than their
minute hands. As a result, every time a second hand reaches “12” it stays
there for a couple of seconds, waiting for the minute hand to make its step.
Another one. When a music box winds down, it gets slower and slower
until it stops completely. It oen so happens that I think it has already played
its last note but then, aer a pause, it plays one more.
Time is confusing. No person could conﬁdently say that they know what
it is. The examples above show everyday situations that make me feel con-
fused about time, when I notice an uncrossable gap between my experience
of time and what I know about it.
As a composer, I am trying to express my confusion about time in my
music. I believe that music has a tremendous capacity of demonstrating this
gap between our representation and experience of time: no matter how pro-
found musicians are in their relationship with time they constantly stumble
upon the wall of how our understanding of time is easily confused. Most
practices of music-making are social, dialogical in their nature, so the main
question of my artistic research is how to communicate my confusion about
time to other people, and how to make this experience social.
The main reason to be confused about time is the dichotomy between the
model of representation and experience. However, to function successfully,
musical dialogue relies on these models. The ﬁrst problem I face in my re-
search is how to ﬁnd a model that would have a way to show the discrepancy
between itself and the experience of time.
Composers operate with models of time diﬀerent from the ones we use in
our daily life. Music oﬀers us a particular dimension of time, the one Sergei
Zagny calls “time of artistic perception” (or simply “artistic time”) as opposed
to “everyday time,” and the organization of this artistic time is the main task
Sergei Zagny. “Structural Analysis of 4'33",” trans. Daniil Pilchen. KLINK, no. 2, 11
of a composer. There are numerous ways of organizing it, but, regarding the
aforementioned dichotomy, the main two forms of such organization would
be the ones based on either measured or unmeasured time, meaning that
composers either prescribe the exact duration of each event in the piece or
they leave it up to performers. Usually, it is a mix of both, with a tendency to
one or another side. An obvious example would be fermatas in classical mu-
sic. While most of a piece is metricized there can be some moments whose
duration is to be decided by performers. An example of an opposite ap-
proach would be “action time,” a type of temporal organization in which a
composer does not precisely notate the durations of events, but invents a set
of rules for musicians’ interaction, and this interaction gives birth to the
temporal organization of the piece. However, even when writing pieces en
tirely in unmeasured time, composers usually do not go beyond the level of
their relationship with musicians, and this time still ends up being measured
by the latter.
Hence, if I want to create a confusing temporal experience for others, I
need my time to be not just unmeasured, but immeasurable. To make this
possible, I am looking for dysfunctional models of representing time, which
can not be properly employed by musicians and also prevent them from us-
ing their usual means of measuring time. In such situations, le without any
temporal coordinates but still willing to make the dialogue possible, the mu-
sicians need to invent new ways of communicating and making use of time—
unprepared by me and not programmed in scores.
Temporal authority and temporal anarchy
One of the ways I’m approaching this is by building “failing hierarchies of
temporal authorities.” By temporal authority, I mean a certain quality of any
object, process, or being that we trust to measure time against. To measure
time, we usually consult some rhythms, events or movements that are exter-
nal to our mind, and it can be anything from our heartbeat to the position of
the sun on the sky or a wristwatch. In diﬀerent situations diﬀerent temporal
authorities appear more reliable to us than others, thus are the hierarchies
formed. For example, 15 years ago it was still common to hear a person on
the street asking “what time is it? I think my watch is slow,” but now the
satellites have almost exclusive temporal authority over our everyday time.
In music, temporal authorities are distributed according to many needs that
an ensemble might face at a moment. In an orchestra, such a hierarchy can
Samuel Vriezen. “Action Time.” Ear Reader, January 14, 2014.
See Préludes non mesurés by Louis Couperin, Jean-Henri d’Anglebert, Jean-Philippe
Rameau and others.
be built starting from one desk then to a concertmaster then to a conductor.
But sometimes the temporal authority of the conductor can be taken over by
a soloist. Thus, the temporal authority can move from one member of the
ensemble to another during one piece. In some pieces, these changes are
precomposed, e.g., Charles Ives’s Fourth Symphony employs two conductors,
but only the ﬁrst one conducts all the time, while the second comes in from
time to time, becoming a new temporal authority for a part of the orchestra.
In my music, I call temporal authorities “failing” when they reveal their
unreliability for musicians. At moments like these, they need to switch their
attention to another temporal authority which seems more reliable, thus giv-
ing rise to the hierarchy. Aer every single temporal authority fails to pro-
vide musicians with reliable reference to measure time, they ﬁnd themselves
in a situation similar to sailors from “The Hunting of the Snark,” which en-
trusted Bellman and his map to conduct their journey, but the map turned
out to be “a perfect and absolute blank.” Staring at such a “blank,” while still
requiring some reference to move on, the musicians need to ﬁnd new ways
of being together as an ensemble, and these are the moments when musi-
cians feel the apparent presence of one another—moments of intense dia-
logue based on attentive listening and sympathy, when one’s action can
change another’s mode of listening and playing.
In the following chapters, I regard intuitive, experiential and confusing
perspectives to time I ﬁnd relevant to my work, and go through some strate-
gies I use to express them in my pieces. In “How to not understand time,” I
start with describing the diﬀerences between measured and unmeasured
time mainly in regard to Henri Bergson and his ideas of temps (measured
time, clock-time) and durée (duration, “real” time) that sets the speculative
character of the ﬁrst and intuitive nature of the second, then go through
Messiaen’s interpretation of Bergson’s durée as durée vécue (“true” or “lived/
experienced” duration), which rejects the idea of duration being purely intu-
itive and suggests an empirical way to understand it, and conclude with
Alexander Vvedensky’s idea of radical “not understanding” time in its both
measured and unmeasured forms.
“Lost in translation” is devoted to exploring two examples of possible mu-
sical strategies of expressing duration in pieces by Kirill Shirokov and John
Cage. In “How to be late” I regard simultaneity as a fundamental means of
musical understanding of time, explore diﬀerent forms of simultaneity and
our perception of it, look into the duality of simultaneity and succession in
their interdependency and transformation of one into another, and how la-
tency disrupts simultaneity, making it impossible and deceiving our expecta-
Lewis Carroll. The Hunting of the Snark. London: Macmillan and Co., 1876, 16
tion of it, and how unpredictable and altering latency can help us lose our
inherent understanding of time.
In “Many songs” I analyze the pieces from my Songs series, on which I
have been working for the last year and which constitute the core of my re-
search. In these pieces, I explore the concepts and demonstrate the strate-
gies discussed in previous chapters, mainly the failing hierarchies and the
impossibility of simultaneity.
How to not understand time
Time is the only thing that does not exist without us.
Alexander Vvedensky, The Gray Notebook
In this chapter, I talk about measured and unmeasured time from perspec-
tives of Henri Bergson and Marshall McLuhan. Thinking of possible musical
applications of Bergson’s theory, I analyze its interpretation by Olivier Mes-
siaen. From his compositional perspective, Messiaen oﬀers a functioning
musical model of what he calls durée vécue—“experienced (true) duration”—
although I argue that any functioning model would fail to grasp the unfath-
omable nature of time. In contrast to this take, I regard the “dysfunctional”
models of Alexander Vvedensky and Zeno of Elea.
Durée et temps
Henri Bergson contraposes two ways of thinking about time: one is the time
of science, everyday life, and common sense, which he calls simply temps
(“clock-time”), another is the “real” time of human experience, which he
calls durée (“duration”). Temps can be measured and divided by uniform
units, and its divisibility allows us to compare the duration of events by men-
tally superimposing them one over another in their instantaneity. However,
according to Bergson, this way of understanding time is mere speculation,
because the “real” time—duration—“eludes mathematical treatment. . . . Its
essence being to ﬂow, not one of its parts is still there when another part
comes along. Superposition of one part on another with measurement in
view is therefore impossible.”
The only possibility to divide and measure time then is to translate it into
space. In space, we can represent time that has just past as a line and divide
it however we want. This representation is possible because our feeling of
time is derived from the observation of movements. When we see an object
move, we see it change its position in space. But we also memorize where it
has been before, and this memorizing results in drawing an imaginary line
between the starting and ending points of this movement. However, by
making up this visual representation of time we lose the sense of its ﬂow,
because “the line one measures is immobile, time is mobility. . . . What is
Alexander Vvedensky. The Gray Notebook. Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013, 8
Henri Bergson. The Creative Mind, trans. Mabelle L. Andison New York: The Philo
sophical Library, 1946, 10–11
Henri Bergson. Duration and Simultaneity, trans. Leon Jacobson. The Library of
Liberal Arts. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965, 50
counted is only a certain number of extremities of intervals, or moments, in
short, virtual halts in time.”
What is the nature of this duration and why does it not comply with the
uniform division of the clock? Firstly, at the heart of Bergson’s theory of du-
ration is a concept of “multiplicity of conscious states.” Intense emotions,
evoked in us by, for instance, art or sympathy, result in a succession of their
qualitative changes, each of which Bergson regards as a unique conscious
state. These conscious states are essentially a part of a single process, hence
none of them is equal to another, and each following state is a result of the
transformation of the previous one, so it is impossible to draw a line be-
tween one and another. They permeate each other, forming a heterogeneous
and inseparable multiplicity.
Secondly, the basis for the duration is memory. Memory allows us to spot
the diﬀerence in processes within ourselves and our environment and it pre-
vents time from becoming a sequence of disconnected and meaningless
“nows,” constantly creating the link between the past and present—from
“what no longer exists into what does exist.”
And, since memory is essentially what allows us to see the unfolding of
the succession of our conscious states, and this succession, a) never happens
uniformly but its speed constantly changes, b) is always qualitative rather
than quantitative and c) results in conscious states penetrating each other,
thus we cannot draw a line between them and see when exactly one follows
another, it cannot be described through the simple uniform motion of the
The measure is the message
Measuring time allows us to ﬁnd a tangible connection between moments of
our inner-duration and events outside ourselves, which is crucial for inter-
human communication and cooperation. However, with the clock alone,
without duration and consequently memory there can be no idea of time at
all. Yet the beneﬁts of clock-time are so immense that the very idea of im
measurable duration became almost impossible to comprehend.
The history of the clock resembles the route of translation of duration
into motion later divided by uniform units described by Bergson. The very
Bergson, The Creative Mind, 11
Henri Bergson. Time and Free Will. An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness,
trans. F. L. Pogson. London: George Allen & Company, Ltd., 1913, 17–18
Bergson, Duration and Simultaneity, 48–49
ﬁrst clocks were based on the observation of continuous motions: ﬁrst of the
Earth’s rotation around its axis—the sundial, then the water clock, and the
hourglasses. But the true revolution happened at the end of the 13th century,
when the mechanical clock was invented and completely disrupted the con-
tinuity of motion (through “momentarily interrupting rotary movement by a
crown rod and balance wheel”) which, until that day, was the essence of
people’s representation of time.
Every invention of new technology, according to Marshall McLuhan, is an
extension of a part of the human body or an “outering” of a bodily process.
This is our way of adapting to the ever-changing—accelerating and overload-
ing our senses—environment. But aer the ﬁrst extension happens, it allows
for even more acceleration and overload, which demands new technology
and, in the end, results in “amputation” of the body process. Therefore, one
could argue that the growing need for more and more precise time-mea-
surement devices led to the raising numbness of our perception of duration.
This new perception of time vastly aﬀected the history of music. Not long
aer the invention of the mechanical clock followed the rhythmic revolution
of Ars nova, leading further to an extreme rhythmic sophistication of Ars sub-
tillior. At its basis, this sophistication had an idea of dividing core units of
time—tempus and modus—in three (perfect) or two (imperfect). These divi
sions constitute the core of our understanding of musical time until today,
and Olivier Messiaen considered our habit of this division the main reason
we cannot perceive duration.
In his Treatise on Rhythm, Color, and Ornithology Olivier Messiaen demon-
strates a profound understanding of Bergson’s theory. Not only does he quote
Bergson’s works extensively, but he also oﬀers a highly original and trans-
formative interpretation of them, exploring the possibilities of their musical
application through his study of Greek metrics, Hindu rhythms, “extra-musi-
cal” rhythms, works of classical composers and his contemporaries, and a
plethora of other references, including his own works.
Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media. Routledge Classics. London: Routledge,
Philippe de Vitry and Leo Platinga. “Philippe de Vitry’s ‘Ars Nova’: A Translation.”
Journal of Music Theory, no. Vol. 5, No. 2 (Winter 1961): 204–223.
Olivier Messiaen. Traité de Rythme, de Couleur, et d’ornithologie. Tome III. Alphonse
Leduc. Paris, 1996, 225. (All translations from this book are my own).
However, Messiaen disagrees with Bergson’s understanding of duration
as “an inherent trait of consciousness.” He believes that duration reveals
itself in ever-changing rhythms and velocities of nature, hence it can be read
directly from external physical stimuli. He coins a term durée vécue, which
Melody Baggech translates as “true duration,” but it can also be translated as
“lived—or experienced—duration.” Thus, one can fathom this duration by
thoroughly studying dynamic velocities and irregular periodicities of “noises
of nature,” e.g. in “perpetual variation” of “the undulations of the waves of
the sea.” This example is particularly important for Messiaen since he sees
the movement of water as a deﬁnition of rhythm, and rhythm as a direct ex-
perience of duration. Analyzing the etymology of the word “rhythm” (bor-
rowing it from Dictionnaire des racines by R. Grandsaignes) he starts from the
Indo-European root “SREU” (to run) and shows its derivation through Indo-
European languages, such as Greek “rhuthmos” meaning “movement of
waves,” German “strömen” meaning “to run in waves,” English “stream,” and,
in the end, French “rythme.”
Rhythm is essential for our experience of duration, which Messiaen in-
terprets as the interference of our inner-processes with external stimuli.
“Duration presents itself to us with ﬂuctuations of tempo, changes of rapidi-
ty: it is . . . heterogeneous duration, of which appreciation depends essential-
ly on the number of exterior and interior events. . . . True time depends also
on biological time. The rhythms of our organic life . . . inﬂuence our sense of
duration. Finally, our appreciation of duration depends essentially upon the
number of physiological events that are desired and executed by us (actions),
and the exterior events acting on us (shocks).”
The dichotomy between measured and unmeasured time Messiaen ex-
presses through the opposition of “striated time” (temps strié) and “smooth
time” (temps lisse). The ﬁrst is the time measured by regular or irregular pul-
sations, the second is unmeasured or measured by seconds. He proposes using
combinations of both in succession or superposition, but when using this
combination a composer must “avoid at all costs” giving a similar unit or
value to both these times, and also “not forget constantly using accelerando
Melody Baggech. An English Translation of Olivier Messiaen’s Traité de Rythme, de
Couleur, et d’Ornithologie Volume I. The University of Oklahoma, 1998, 18
and rallentando to amplify” the eﬀect of such a combination. Thus created
Messiaen’s interpretation of heterogeneity, which for him is one of the main
qualities of time. Heterogeneity of rhythms he calls “heterochrony” (hétéro-
chronie) and the combination of temps strié and temps lisse can be one of the
examples of it. But more generally, it can be any combination of rhythms.
A qualitative aspect of duration is equally important for Messiaen, and
this quality is also heterogeneous, one example of which could be “hetero-
dynamy” (hétérodynamie)—a superposition of diﬀerent dynamics. Combining
it with the former would result in “heterocronodynamy” (hétérochronody-
namie) . In the ﬁrst volume, he gives an example of such a superimposition
combined with the usage of extremely long and short durations to further
complicate “duration’s numeric evaluation.”
In the end, we can summarize Messiaen’s idea of durée vécue in three main
points: it is heterogeneous and ever-changing (so a composer should avoid
exact repetitions), it is based on the human experience of their own and en-
vironmental rhythms (so a composer should pay close attention to those and
ﬁnd inspiration in them) and it is qualitative, hence immeasurable (so a writ-
ten rhythm should not be easily measured by a listener using their habitual
apparatus of division and multiplication).
Messiaen, Traité de Rythme, de Couleur, et d’ornithologie. Tome III, 352
Baggech. An English Translation of Olivier Messiaen’s Traité de Rythme, de Couleur, et
d’Ornithologie Volume I, 44
Messiaen indeed oﬀers us a beautiful theory. One can see how it is in-
spired by Bergson, yet it is highly original in its attempt to embrace the idea
of duration from a musical perspective. However, he seems to be interested
much more in things that “work” than the ones that do not. He provides al-
most a “recipe book” explaining how to get the right experience of pure du-
ration, but its intangibility, which is its main quality, escapes his attention.
For Bergson, the only way to understand duration is intuition. One can-
not understand it through analysis, but only through immediate experience,
by completely immersing oneself in it. Maybe this is why, despite duration
being one of the main subjects of his philosophical research, he never gives
—unlike Messiaen—its complete deﬁnition.
Feeling and not understanding
An example of a completely diﬀerent approach from that of Messiaen, and
probably even more radical than that of Bergson, would be the poetics of
Russian poet Alexander Vvedensky, co-founder and one of the main ﬁgures
of OBERIU group of poets in late 1920s and 1930s. For him, time was the es-
sence of all things, yet, he rejected the idea of even trying to understand it.
At ﬁrst sight, Vvedensky’s take on time is very close to that of Bergson
and Messiaen. Time for him is both qualitative as well as immeasurable:
“One can’t compare three months gone by with three newly grown trees. The
trees are present, their leaves glimmer dimly. Of month one cannot say the
same with conﬁdence. . . . If we were to erase the numbers from a clock, if
we were to forget its false names, maybe then time would want to show its
quiet torso, to appear to us in its full glory.” Yet, unlike Messiaen, he does
not think that any experience can help us understand time, and argues for
the contrary: any extreme experience of time would only set us further from
understanding it. Moreover, it seems like Bergson’s intuitive pondering of
time does not satisfy him either: for Vvedensky, everything that can be said
about time is untrue, thus the only way to understand time is to not under-
Bergson, The Creative Mind, 186
Vvedensky does not mention Bergson anywhere, but we have enough evidence of
interest to the philosopher’s ideas among his closest intellectual surrounding to as-
sume that he was at least familiar with them. See Tatyana Rezvikh. “Alexander Vve-
densky’s Antinomy of Time.” Logos, no. 3  (2014), 67–94 (in Russian, abstract in
Vvedensky, The Grey Notebook, 11
stand it, and through not understanding time one can approach not under-
standing other things.
His poetry is full of instances of not understanding time, and it is always
situations of crisis, of catastrophe—death, execution, or prison—leaving his
lyrical hero (or himself—sometimes it is impossible to draw a line) bere of
any knowledge, understanding, expectation, making them reinvent their re-
lation to reality and existence. “I felt and for the ﬁrst time did not understand
time in prison. I always thought that at least ﬁve days ahead is the same as
about ﬁve days back. It’s like a room in which you stand in the middle, where
a dog is looking into your window. You wanted to turn around and saw a
door, but no—you saw a window. But if in a room there are four smooth
walls, then the most you will see is death on one of the walls.”
Death is especially important in the poet’s perception of time. Contrary to
Bergson, Vvedensky does not reject the idea of measurable time completely,
but for him, only that which has a beginning and an end can be measured.
Death is the ﬁnal measure of time, and time begins with the ultimate realiza-
tion of the inevitability of death, namely when one knows for sure when
death comes. Thus, one only has a second—maybe a minute or an hour—of
time: “The last hour or two before death can really be called an hour. It is
something whole, something stopped, it is like space, like a world, a room or
a garden, which has escaped time. They can be touched. Suicides and mur-
dered ones, did you have a second and not an hour? Yes, a second, maybe
two, maybe three, but not an hour, they say. But were they dense and unfal-
tering? Yes, yes.”
Accepting death as a real measure of time, Vvedensky creates an an-
tinomy: time is immeasurable, yet death—and death only—measures it. By
measuring time, thus setting its starting point as well as its end, death erases
memory—the only force that links the past with the future—hence disrupting
the ﬂow of time: time stops. Perhaps it is this antinomy of time which is both
immeasurable and measured, ﬂowing and still, is what Vvedensky calls
Let the mouse run over the stone. Count only its every step. Only forget the word
every, only forget the word step. Then each step will seem a new movement.
Then, since your ability to perceive a series of movements as something whole
has rightfully disappeared, that which you wrongly called a step (you had con-
fused movement and time with space, you falsely transposed one over the
other), that movement will begin to break apart, it will approach zero. The
shimmering will begin. The mouse will start to shimmer. Look around you: the
world is shimmering (like a mouse).
This latest example immediately reminds us of Zeno of Elea, a great poet of
antinomies of Ancient Greece, who had brilliantly not understood both time
and space. Of all his famous paradoxes, the one which is still the most puz-
zling is probably the paradox of the ﬂying arrow. His arrow is ﬂying in time
composed of “nows,” and in each of these “nows,” it appears to have occu-
pied the same space. What occupies the same space does not move, there-
fore the ﬂying arrow is at rest. From a common-sense point of view, one
could argue that time simply is not composed of “nows” and there are the
past and the future. But it is memory that allows us to think so, it is memory
that creates a link between them. If the arrow were bere of memory, if it
were to forget its every step, then shimmering would begin. The arrow
would shimmer (like a mouse).
In this chapter, I tried to demonstrate that “real” time, described as Berg-
son’s duration or in any other way, is of fundamentally intuitive nature. But
intuitive pondering of it could not be simply meditative since our inertia of
understanding time through measurement is too strong. I assume that one
possibility of approaching this intuitive experience of time would be through
challenging this understanding, and there are many ways of doing that.
Some of them would be the extreme experiences exempliﬁed by poems of
Vvedensky, demonstrating the absurdity of this understanding through
Zeno’s logical paradoxes, or numerous musical strategies, some of which I
regard in the following chapters.
Lost in translation
In the following two chapters, I discuss some possible musical strategies of
not understanding time. In this one, I regard two examples of possible musi-
cal expression of Bergson’s idea of duration in works of Kirill Shirokov and
When we are trying to conceive of a possible musical situation of not un-
derstanding time, it is important to realize that understanding time is the very
essence of musicianship in its traditional form: composers are constantly
trying to invent successful time-measurement systems or use already exist-
ing ones in an eﬃcient way, performers are practicing to master these sys-
tems to be as rhythmically precise as possible, and audiences are training to
understand, interpret and evaluate these systems. So, it is possible to argue
that any compositional strategy that, at its basis, challenges the value of un-
derstanding time, and this understanding itself, can already be a step to-
wards a successful not understanding. There can be an inﬁnite amount of
strategies we could conceive of and a plethora of already existing examples.
Nobody could claim to have invented the only possible one, neither exhaust
the list of possibilities because both of these claims would be self-refuting.
So I am going to arbitrarily focus on two possible strategies: a musical explo-
ration of pure duration in its intuitive form and challenging the concept of
simultaneity. Examples of the ﬁrst one will constitute the next section of this
chapter and the second will be explained in the following one.
Since the understanding of time and its measurement are the basic con-
ditions for organizing situations of musical dialogue in forms known to us, it
is important to understand that challenging them would mean destroying
this organization, thus subjecting all its participants to extreme precarity.
Yet, the social necessity of dialogue implied by the frame of the musical situ-
ation itself (as well as human desire to leave the precarious state) will make
them invent new forms of this dialogue—the ones not built upon the under-
standing of time.
Both examples I want to explore in this section, at ﬁrst sight, take a very sim-
ilar approach to duration, which is simply taking one step backward in trans-
lation: from the time measured by clocks to continuous motion. Yet, having
taken very diﬀerent turns on their way, they end up with very diﬀerent re-
The ﬁrst example is Kirill Shirokov’s Two pieces for one performer with three
hourglasses (2013). Both pieces have the same setting and the same principle
of translating the time measured by stopwatch to operations with hourglass-
es: the performer has to measure the exact duration of each hourglass and
create their own timetable prescribing the moments of turning the hour-
glasses according to the score.
These pieces oﬀer a radical and extreme rethinking of a dialogue be-
tween a performer and audience: normally, an audience is provided with
some kind of rhythmical language they can interpret based on their listening
experience, which allows them to form certain expectations towards what
kind of temporal organization they are faced with. Here, they are deprived of
any clue of that sort: there is no uniform division of time both in the sense of
everyday (clock) and musical time (beats), neither there is any succession of
sound, which usually helps in forming temporal expectations as well.
So, the audience has to reinvent their expectations toward time and get used
to a new kind of organization of the dialogue between them and a performer
on stage. And, what I ﬁnd especially beautiful about these pieces, is that they
are happy to help us make sense of this new type of situation, for they both
have extremely clear combinatorial structures which, once understood, be-
come very predictable, hence comforting.
These pieces oﬀer the audience a journey—or, in Bergson’s terms, it in-
duces a succession of conscious states: faced with something completely
new and unknown, we proceed to gradually form a new way of feeling the
time based on motion rather than clear division. Interestingly, this experi-
ence is one-sided: the performer does not participate in this journey, they
act in the same way most of the musicians usually do, performing a set of
prescribed actions based on a clear temporal matrix. Moreover, since the
performer is the only one given the knowledge of clock-time, thus measur-
ing the durations perceived by everybody else, they act as a singular tempo-
ral authority for the audience’s perception.
Another example is John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957–
58). Here we have a similar way of translating the clock-time into motion.
The conductor has a stopwatch and translates the movement of the clock
hands into their own movements. All musicians divide their parts into sec-
An incredibly comprehensive research on this piece is currently lead by Philip
Thomas at the Universities of Huddersﬁeld and Leeds. The information about it can
be found on their website: https://cageconcert.org/
tions and decide on the length of their sections themselves, based on the
overall duration of the performance. During the performance, if the conduc-
tor is present (a performance may or may not include any of the parts, and
this applies to the conductor as well), the musicians follow the conductor’s
hands instead of clocks.
However, the conductor’s role is not simply replacing the clocks with
their hands, but translating the clock-time into what Cage calls “eﬀective
time,” meaning that the latter might not be the same as the former. The con-
ductor’s part consists of a table of “clock-times” corresponding to “eﬀective
times,” prescribing what time the conductor should show with which speed
based on the stopwatch. For example, they can show 15" of “eﬀective time” in
1'30" of “clock-time,” then 1'30" in 1'30", then 1'15" in 2'00" and so on. Even
though the order of these changes is ﬁxed, the conductor may decide where
to begin, meaning that the orchestra players do not exactly know when they
can expect the time to speed up and when to slow down. The changes of the
speed of the time ﬂow interfere with the density of musicians’ parts, disrupt-
ing their expectations: e.g., one could be going to play quite a bit of material
in 1’30”, but might have to “squeeze” everything in 15".
This is a good example of a “failing hierarchy,” when musicians, relying
on the conductor as the only temporal authority, ﬁnd themselves in a situa-
tion of extreme uncertainty, and this uncertainty becomes one of the main
characteristics of the piece communicated to the audience. So the audience’s
experience of duration is based on empathy, on their connection to the mu-
sicians’ stress, and musicians’ precarity evokes a succession of responses in
the audience’s minds.
These two examples show musical situations in which our usual under-
standing of time through measurement is challenged, putting audience or
musicians in a precarious state, which gives rise to a possibility of new expe-
riences of time. In the case of Shirokov’s pieces, it is done by taking away the
means of measuring, in the case of Cage’s Concert, by making these means
Another strategy would be challenging the concept of simultaneity, for
measurement is essentially what makes simultaneous actions possible. I will
discuss this in the next chapter.
How to be late
In this chapter, I talk about simultaneity, which plays a signiﬁcant role in our
usual musical interactions. I regard diﬀerent kinds of simultaneity (contem-
poraneity and instantaneity) and the dual nature of simultaneity and succes-
sion in their interdependency (mainly, how memory, tracing change, makes
possible expectation and evaluation of simultaneity). Later, I touch upon dif-
ferent ways of transforming one into another. In the last section, I talk about
the coronavirus crisis of 2020 during which this paper was written and its
eﬀect on my work: in the lack of possibilities of physical performance of my
pieces, I became interested in networked music performance, which oper-
ates in a very diﬀerent temporality from the one familiar from chamber mu-
sic, in particular, because of altering latency being one of its main qualities.
Simultaneity and succession: duality
Dialogical music-making depends heavily on simultaneity. Being able to play
at the same time is vital to our sense of togetherness, and it is what consti-
tutes our collective understanding of time.
To conceive of simultaneity, we usually imagine two actions happening
instantaneously, meaning that the interval between them is too minuscule
for us to process. For instance, we can spot simultaneity when two (or more)
movements reach their extreme states at the same instant, but to notice
these movements and the diﬀerence between an instant of them resulting in
the simultaneity and any other, we need memory, hence, succession.
Thomas Aquinas says that the complete simultaneity—the one which com-
pletely excludes succession—can only exist outside time, in the divine do-
main of eternity.
For Bergson, this idea of simultaneity depends on the translation of time
into space, thus the idea of an instant is similar to a point on a line. This un-
derstanding of simultaneity he calls “simultaneity of an instant” or “instan-
taneity,” which is opposed to the “real” simultaneity—“simultaneity of the
ﬂow” or “contemporaneity,” based on the idea of duration as a conscious
state. Bergson calls two ﬂows simultaneous when they depend on the dura-
tion of the third—our attention to them. Thus, the “real” simultaneity can
not be described through a point, it always is a mental act that lasts.
Yet, Bergson admits that the idea of an instant is culturally embedded in
our understanding of time “as soon as we acquire a habit of converting time
Thomas Aquinas. The Summa Theologica. Part I. London: Burns Oates & Wash
bourne Ltd., 1920, 103
Bergson, Duration and Simultaneity, 52
into space.” Understanding an instant as a point on a line is so habitual to
us that we seldom think of the absurdity of this proposition. The Time Trav-
eller from Herbert Wells’s “Time Machine” rhetorically asks: “Can an instan-
taneous cube exist? . . . Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have
a real existence?” Therefore, for the idea of an instant to exist in time, this
point does have to have a dimension, it has to last a duration, even when it’s
so short that we cannot feel it. “Spatialized time, which admits of points, ric-
ochets onto real time and there gives rise to the instant.” Instantaneity, thus
understood, even though is derived from the conversion of time into space,
needs duration to be felt. It is a sort of mediated feeling of simultaneity that
we need to acquire to synchronize our inner-feeling of time with the time of
In terms of musical interaction, these two types of simultaneities can be
described as the simultaneities based on shared measure and shared feeling.
Shared measure is known to us from the understanding of time of western
professional music that demands an instantaneity of action, and it usually
requires some kind of temporal authority. Shared feeling is known from cer-
tain practices of free improvisation, but also employed by some composers.
But, of course, just as simultaneity of an instant cannot exist without simul-
taneous ﬂows, musicians usually need to acquire some kind of mutual feel-
ing of the ﬂow to share the same measure, so usually, we experience a mix of
both, while focusing more on one or another.
In Morton Feldman’s Durations (1960–61), a series of pieces for diﬀerent
ensembles, all musicians read from the same score, but, having started to-
gether, they decide on the duration of each note for themselves, thus they
are not required to play the chords instantaneously even though in the score
they are vertically aligned. Yet, Feldman expects “no instrument to be too far
behind or too far ahead of the other,” hence attentive listening to each oth
er and some sort of shared feeling of time is required to play the piece.
Herbert George Wells. The Time Machine. London: Penguin Books, 1903, 8
Bergson, Duration and Simultaneity, 53
Especially in composed music, however “unmeasured” it might be, I would argue
that the existence of a score in itself is an act of measurement. The diﬀerences arise,
of course, depending on where does one go from it.
Morton Feldman. “Liner Notes.” In Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writ
ings of Morton Feldman, edited by B. H. Friedmann. Exact Change, 2000, 7
Manfred Werder’s 2003–2004 series of pieces mostly consist of stillness,
having only up to three sounds in each piece. The duration of each piece is
never predetermined, meaning that musicians have to agree on it them-
selves. However, they are not allowed to use clocks, so this duration cannot
be determined by them in advance, but the decision to end the piece comes
naturally during the performance. More than a half (4 out of 7) of these
pieces have a ﬁxed number of sounds that have to be performed, so the du-
ration can vaguely be determined by the exhaustion of every possibility to
make a sound, but in the last three pieces the number of sounds can vary
from one performance to another (it is always two or three), hence the dura-
tion of each of these pieces must be determined independently from the
number of events within it. But even in the ﬁrst four pieces, the end of a per-
formance is usually separated from the last sound by a rather long time of
stillness. How do musicians decide when to stop playing? Of course, they can
use some visual signs like eye contact, nods, etc., but I was always wonder-
ing whether they could do that without any signs, just by intuition, with a
shared feeling of duration.
A similar sensation of mutual duration of stillness I experienced several
times during our improvisations within the “DæKa” trio (me, Darya Zvezdina
and Kirill Shirokov). In our improvisations, we frequently had periods of
stillness, interrupted only by the will of one of us to produce a new sound.
But sometimes there were moments during some of those stillnesses when I
clearly felt that nobody is going to play anymore, and usually, I was not
wrong. It was not a limitation set by concert producers, but rather some kind
of exhaustion that we all felt at the same time. However, it was not exhaus-
tion of the material—maybe exhaustion of stillness? It may be argued that
these experiences may be mere accidents or false memories, but I still be-
lieve that this mutual feeling of exhaustion can be communicated: neither
visually nor aurally, but somehow else.
These three ways of feeling simultaneity in music—aural, visual, and the
one I, for want of a better description, call “the exhaustion of stillness”—all
depend on a feeling of succession. They all follow certain successions that
create some kind of expectations: in case of listening it is a succession of
sounds, either regular (clicks of a metronome) or irregular (the events in
Feldman’s Durations), in case of visual perception it might be a motion that
we expect to culminate at a certain point (conductor’s upbeat, soloist’s nod),
By “stillness” I mean lack of noticeable physical action. I use it in opposition with
sound because making sounds is the only action that can possible serve as a tangi-
ble time measure in these pieces.
in case of “exhaustion of stillness”—well, this exhaustion, for “time . . . not
only measures movement but it also measures repose.”
Simultaneity and succession: transformation
At the heart of our perception of simultaneity is latency—the interval be-
tween sending and receiving (processing) any information. Any sound needs
time to get from a body that creates it to us, but we also need some time to
process it. There is a limit to physiological capacity to perceive duration,
which is around 2–5 ms, meaning that, when we perceive a succession of
sounds within a duration less than this, we perceive it as simultaneity. This
eﬀect is noticeable when we play a slowly accelerating pulse: aer a certain
threshold, we start perceiving it as pitch. It also works backward: a progres-
sion of sounds, played fast, can be perceived as simultaneity, but we start
hearing it as a succession when it slows down. This eﬀect is beautifully pre-
sented in Joseph Kudirka’s Music Boxes (2014–2015). Each of his music boxes
plays a short tune in an inﬁnite loop, slowing down very gradually during the
performance. The slower it gets, the more apparent the transformation of
simultaneous events into successions becomes. This slowing down, trans
forming simultaneity into succession, Bergson interpreted as an inherent
quality of time: “time is what hinders everything from being given at once. It
retards, or rather it is retardation.”
However, when it comes to playing music, our reaction latency, which is
much higher than the latency of sound propagation in air, is also at play. Our
“reaction time . . . is on the order of hundreds of milliseconds and quite
variable,” and, even though hundreds of milliseconds of latency are still not
too much for speech communication, musical interaction requires a much
faster reaction. This reaction latency can be reduced using a succession of
movements or sounds that create anticipation (common feeling).
Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, 104–105
Alessandra Gianella Samelli, Eliane Schochat. “The Gaps-in-Noise Test: Gap Detec
tion Thresholds in Normal-Hearing Young Adults.” International Journal of Audiology
47, no. 5: 238–245.
Bergson, The Creative Mind, 109
Chris Chafe. “Living with Net Lag.” AES 43rd International Conference, 2011, 4
Chris Chafe et al. “Eﬀect of Temporal Separation on Synchronization in Rhythmic
Performance.” Perception 39 (2010), 982
In a small enough space, compensation for reaction time can allow us to
perform actions instantaneously, meaning that they fall under the threshold
of <5 ms. But we can ignore latencies higher than that if we are accustomed
to certain traditions of music-making. For instance, in a commonly spaced
small chamber ensemble, sound can take up to 9 ms to go from one player
to another and even more in orchestras. We can learn to compensate for la-
tencies even higher than our reaction time if this latency is easily calculable
and other ways of synchronization (e.g. visual) are available. For instance, it
is known that in large orchestras percussionists learn to play a bit earlier
than the rest of the orchestra because it takes a longer time for their sound
to reach the audience.
I would assume that to lose our usual perception of time, to “feel and not
understand” it, we can put ourselves in situations where simultaneity is im-
possible. This can be done by disrupting the visual and aural mechanisms of
anticipation and evaluation, e.g. when musicians cannot see each other,
when the latency is increased and incalculable, or when they simply are not
in the same room.
Different place, different time
The current COVID-19 crisis and the self-isolation induced by it sets us many
challenges that we are still to reﬂect upon. As any major crisis, it destroys
our usual worldview, making us rethink many aspects of our lives. It is al-
ready transforming our social, economic, and political reality in many as-
pects, revealing people’s extreme precarity and interdependency, teaching
us the necessity of sympathy and collaboration.
As for musicians, we are noticing major changes in our perception of
time. The need for social distancing inevitably leads to desynchronization on
many levels, transforming many simultaneous processes that we are used to
into successions, thus slowing down our interactions signiﬁcantly.
Dialogical music-making is among those practices that undergo the most
drastic change. In the absence of the opportunity to play music together in
the same room, many musicians turn to networked music performance as
an alternative. We are witnessing an unprecedented growth of all forms of
online music-making from one-on-one lessons and streamed solo perfor-
mances to live ensemble concerts. Telematic performances, usually reserved
for devoted explorers and technology aﬁcionados, now become widely ac-
cepted: by some as an unpleasant, but necessary measure, by some—as a
ﬁeld of previously unseen possibilities.
Networked music performance is too vast of a ﬁeld to exhaustively ex-
plore in this paper, but a brief introduction to it is necessary for two reasons:
it is a medium that inherently disrupts our perception of simultaneity and
one of the pieces I will analyze in the next chapter was written to be per-
formed over the internet.
Networked music performance imposes a set of particular technological
constraints that vastly aﬀect the quality of musicians’ interaction. Rebekah
Wilson, a composer who runs continuous and extensive research into net-
worked performance, exploring both technical and aesthetic approaches to
it, highlights altering latency and uncertainty among primary characteristics
of this medium. Latency is an inherent quality of the internet. Even though
the internet communication is light-speed, “the speed of light in ﬁber is
roughly 2/3rd the speed of light in air,” and it is always changing because of
the architecture of the protocol: when data are transmitted over the internet
they are divided in packets of the same size and each packet takes a diﬀerent
route to the destination point. Because of that, the performers, when located
in diﬀerent places also exist on “multiple temporal planes,” so their com
munication is fundamentally horizontal, and there is no singular temporal
authority to refer to.
Of course, these qualities make traditional music performance virtually
impossible, but Wilson argues that overcoming these challenges would allow
us to invent new ways of playing music embracing latency. Among possible
creative approaches, she mentions “post-vertical harmony” based on allow-
ing harmony to be transformed unpredictably by latency and new ways of
exchanging the vital information for performative relationships in situations
of mediated presence.
My interest in networked music performance started just two weeks be-
fore the pandemic came to the Netherlands, during a workshop Rebekah was
running at the Conservatoire, and it naturally resulted in organizing the
Spring Festival Online a month later. The annual Spring Festival is built
mainly around pieces by the students of the Conservatoire’s Composition
Rebekah Wilson. The Constraints, Aesthetic Implications, and Creative Strategies of
Composing for Networked Music Performance. Victoria University of Wellington, 2018,
Ankit Singla et al. “The Internet at the Speed of Light.” HotNets-XIII: Proceedings of
the 13th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks (2014): 1–7
Wilson, The Constraints, Aesthetic Implications, and Creative Strategies of Composing
for Networked Music Performance, 19
Department, and it got canceled because of the crisis. I adapted one of my
pieces for our online edition of it, and its analysis is given in the next chapter
among other pieces of the series. General reﬂections on organizing this
event, written in collaboration with other organizers, as well as the technical
details, are present in the Appendix.
Wilson argues that the wide availability of technology, together with the
invention of new forms of music-making that are tailored to its constraints,
can lead to our adaptation to much higher latencies than before, allowing us
to become “latency-native.” I would assume that becoming latency-native
would mean abandoning our current understanding of musical time, prov-
ing the ﬁrst sentence of this chapter (that dialogical music-making depends
on simultaneity) wrong, and it would lead to completely new kinds of hori-
zontal organization of ensembles.
Rebekah Wilson. “Becoming Latency-Native.” Web Audio Conference WAC-2019:
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying.” she said: “one can’t believe impossible
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your
age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many
as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Since September 2019 I have been working on a series of pieces in which I
am trying to come up with diﬀerent ways of creating confusing experiences
of time. To achieve that, I employ two main strategies: one is making instan-
taneity between musicians impossible, another is building failing hierar-
chies of temporal authorities.
While my scores demand certain events to be performed instantaneously,
I create three levels of disruption of expectation: the ﬁrst two are the scores
themselves and the media I employ as temporal authorities. Since the score
has no measure and the duration of each note is vaguely determined by its
distance to the following one, the musicians cannot rely on their listening to
be “in-time” with each other. This level can be easily managed with the mu-
sicians’ visual interaction. This is when the second level comes—the unreli-
able temporal authority. At the time of writing, I have used three media for
that: music box(es), self-playing instruments , and the internet. A music
box, even when a human plays it, has all the sounds written on the roll al-
ready, and it is impossible to see what sounds come out of it immediately af-
ter the turn of the lever, so there is no immediate connection between the
performer’s action and the sound they produce, hence it is useless to try to
establish any kind of visual interaction with them. With the self-playing in-
struments the visual interaction is impossible for obvious reasons, and the
internet does not only limit the possibility of visual interaction, but the eﬀec-
tivity of such interaction is vastly decreased by the connection latency.
Yet, in the case of music boxes, the second level of disruption of expecta-
tion can still be managed with adjusting to the music box players’ move-
ment—the cycle of rotating the lever. And that is when the third level is
needed. When the speed of this rotation slows down, the singular movement
starts to stutter, resulting in losing control over its speed. The music boxes
Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking-Glass. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. London, 1949, 149
By self-playing instruments I mean mechanical and electronic instruments that
are more preprogrammed than controlled during a performance. In this chapter,
the only example of such instruments is MIDI-organs in Up to Fieen Songs, but in
further development of the series I am planning to employ pianolas, turn-tables,
and automatic music boxes.
thus become very unpredictable, and nobody knows for sure when the next
sound is going to occur.
In this way, the musicians’ expectations are consistently deceived, while
the necessity of staying together remains. This puts them into a highly un-
comfortable situation, requiring the invention of new ways of achieving si-
multaneity over and over again, and when the last “usual” means of doing so
turns out to be useless as well, they are le only with their intuition.
In most of these pieces—except the one written to be played over the in-
ternet—I use 30-note chromatic music boxes with a hand-driven mechanism;
the pitches and rhythm are written on a punched paper tape. There is a pe-
culiar conﬂict between the certain rhythmical freedom provided by the pa-
per tape and the necessary presence of a human turning the lever. The latter
is never accurate enough compared to the intended rhythm and it always
distorts whatever rhythmical precision is programmed by the tape. I high-
light this quality in two ways: ﬁrstly, by asking music box players to play in
tempo slow enough to never be able to maintain the constant speed of rotat-
ing the lever, and the slower the rotation, the more fragmented the move-
ment becomes—the more hands “stutter;” secondly, one music box rarely
plays alone, but usually in unison with other instruments. The attempt to
play in unison distorted by the above-mentioned qualities of music boxes
results in constant heterophony.
Shis of temporal authority are possible because all musicians follow the
same melody like an ideal timeline and, while required to play in unison,
musicians (in some pieces all of them, in others only some) decide for them-
selves when to enter and leave it. Every time a musician enters or leaves the
timeline their inner-time interferes with the time of others. It also demands
a swi refocus of attention from the musicians that are already playing and
results in changing the mode of their listening and performance: depending
on the nature and moment of the change, each musician may have to rein-
terpret their role in an ensemble, e.g. switch from leading to following or
The title of each piece is “X Songs” and is derived from the number of
changes of modes of performer’s listening in each piece, e.g. if there are
three changes in a piece, it will be called Four Songs, where “songs” mean the
times surrounding the changes.
This piece was written in September 2019 for Moscow Contemporary Music
Ensemble. It was the ﬁrst piece from the series and the starting point for the
The material of the songs is a plain melody, played in unison, and it can
be repeated any number of times. There are two scores: one is for ﬂute, clar-
inet, cello, and piano, written in unmeasured notation.
The other one is for the music box (ideally, not seen by the rest of the en-
semble), written with exact durations.
The paper roll for the music box is folded and taped in a Möbius strip fash-
ion, which results in the entire melody being inverted aer going through
the cycle in prime order. In the examples above: lines 1–3 are the melody in
prime order and 4–6 are the inversion.
Each song represents a diﬀerent kind of synchronization. The ﬁrst one is
played only by ﬂute, clarinet, cello, and piano using their unmeasured score.
They try to play together, but they don't have their usual tools (note values,
time signatures, etc.) to assist them with that—only the distance between
notes and shorter or longer rests. In this way, the score still has its absolute
temporal authority as a spatial representation of events in time, but it cannot
be reliable enough for musicians to trust it in guiding them, so they have to
decide to shi the authority to somebody from the ensemble, i.e. the score
ceases to be more important (at least in rhythmical dimension) than individ-
ual choices of musicians.
The second song starts when the music box comes into play. Since the
paper roll in the music box is looped, the musician can start playing at any
moment of the piece. The music box player decides when to start and doesn't
tell the other musicians when it is going to happen. During the performance
the music box player is oﬀstage, and the sound is transmitted to the rest
through headphones or a little monitor speaker, so they also cannot see
when the music box player is about to start. What happens is a shi of tem-
poral authority from someone from the ensemble to the music box. It
changes the ensembles’ organization: in the ﬁrst song, musicians follow the
score and just listen to each other, which makes it fairly easy to play together
(although it is seldom really precise), but, when the music box starts playing
along, it becomes a medium of synchronization—as a sort of metronome or
conductor—because, even though it is played by a human (who also has the
authority of knowing the precise rhythm), it can never be fully controlled, so
it is something that everyone else has to follow. Since a person can never be
as precise as a mechanism, the sense of time it creates is the opposite of uni-
ﬁed, regular and predictable time of metronomes and conductors, which
puts musicians in a situation of never knowing when the next event is going
to happen but rather feeling the ﬂux of time as something that can never be
controlled. In that way, used as a medium to synchronize, the music box be-
comes the opposite of such a medium, making musicians overcome its in-
stability while trying to play together.
The structure of the piece is fairly simple: just one melody, split into two
halves by the entrance of the music box. The sound and the diﬀerence in
heterophonic texture is rather predictable, but the possibility of the music
box entering at any point makes this moment very intense: there are too
many factors musicians have to keep in mind when this shi happens—it
comes into direct conﬂict with their current expectations and the speed of
their reaction. For instance, if the music box starts playing from the begin-
ning of the phrase aer a pause it would be much more comfortable for mu-
sicians than when it cuts through the middle of a phrase. Also, the music box
can start playing “too soon” or “too late” in terms of musicians’ expectations
about the overall duration of the piece. In the end, the result is quite diﬀer-
ent each time, so I would like to regard two diﬀerent performances of this
piece by the same musicians of the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble
within three days.
The ﬁrst performance took place on September 12 in the hall of Music
School in Tchaikovsky City. What struck me there, is that the situation I im-
posed on musicians created not only the interaction I intended but also an
unexpected sonic quality. First, they had to play extremely so—as so as I
could never ask them to play. It happened not only because of their extreme
attention to each other but also because they were afraid of missing the
moment when the music box (which also sounded extremely so from a tiny
speaker on stage) comes in to play. This soness allowed ﬂute, clarinet, and
cello to completely blend, and also created some amusing artifacts: for in-
stance, the pianist also tried to blend with other musicians and play as so as
them, and, for that reason, some notes were not fully pressed, hence were
omitted; also the clarinet player played so soly that it was very hard for him
to produce pitch (because the air pressure was never suﬃcient to make the
reed vibrate properly), therefore all the sounds were covered with clarinet’s
air noise. At last, the asynchronicity of them never being able to arrive at a
note simultaneously, combined with the dynamics and this speciﬁc blend-
ing, was sometimes perceived as a timbral quality more than temporal.
The second performance happened on September 14 at the Chamber Hall
of Moscow Philharmonics. This time I wanted to have a slightly diﬀerent
version from what was two days ago, and asked the music box player to start
playing somewhat later than last time, and sometimes take the music box a
bit further away from the microphone, thus making the sound soer. That
created an unexpectedly big tension during the performance: ﬁrstly, the mu-
sic box player decided to enter during the second repetition of the melody,
which has never happened before, so, even knowing that it is possible, musi-
cians appeared confused by the music box not entering when they expect-
ed—they started playing even soer than before and much slower, being ex-
tremely careful not to miss the music box. But then, aer the music box en-
tered and everything went back to normal, this precarious feeling returned
every time the player took the music box away from the microphone, creat-
ing the feeling of the whole ensemble repeatedly falling apart and getting
Two more songs
This piece was written for the Saxophone project at the Royal Conservatoire
and it was supposed to be performed during the Spring Festival in April 2020,
but the festival got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The instrumen-
tation is 12 saxophones and 4 music boxes and the structure is very similar to
the ﬁrst piece but in reverse. It starts with all musicians (saxophones and
music boxes) playing a melody together in unison, but then at some point,
the music boxes have to stop and the saxophones have to ﬁnish playing the
piece by themselves. Like in the previous piece, the saxophones do not know
when the music boxes are going to stop, so, when it happens, the saxo-
phones ﬁnd themselves in a very short moment of intense dialogue, trying to
ﬁnd a way to immediately reorganize themselves as an ensemble. A similar
dialogue occurs between the music boxes. All of them decide separately on
when to stop, but they all have to stop whenever the ﬁrst one does, so this
moment is also unexpected by three of them.
The melody is also diﬀerent from the one in the previous piece. Since the
saxophones need to play together until the end, it is a long continuous line
instead of a short repeating one. Yet, the modality and character of the
melody remain the same.
An additional challenge for the musicians’ interaction is created by their po-
sitioning on the stage: the music boxes must be as far from each other as it is
still possible for them to hear one another, and the saxophones split into
four groups of three, each group located around one music box.
This piece is written for an ensemble of six unspeciﬁed instruments and two
music box players with two music boxes each. The performance was sup-
posed to happen at the CASS concert in April 2020, which was also canceled
due to the pandemic.
Structurally, this piece is a hybrid of Two songs and Two more songs: six in-
strumentalists start playing the repeating melody in unison, and at some
point, the music boxes come in. Then, any one of the musicians from either
ensemble or the music boxes can switch to playing the second—long—
melody. Instrumentalists need to skip the remaining notes on the ﬁrst page
and go directly to the second, and the music box players must switch from
one of their boxes to another. This can happen at one of the moments in the
ﬁrst melody indicated by arrows, which serve as a sort of “links” between the
ﬁrst and the second melody.
I ﬁnd this moment interesting for three reasons: ﬁrstly, it is a change not
only of the temporal organization of the ensemble, but a change of the mate-
rial, which might be more tangible for the listeners, secondly, it creates not
only the need for attentive listening among musicians, but also a special in-
teraction between them and the score, meaning they have to “jump” from
one part of the score to another, but most importantly, for a brief moment it
potentially reverses the temporal authority from the music boxes to the en-
semble, allowing one of the instrumentalists to control the music box play-
ers’ actions. Aer this change happens, the rest of the piece continues as in
Two more songs: aer the music boxes stop playing, the instrumentalists need
to ﬁnish the piece by themselves.
Up to fifteen songs
This piece was written especially to be performed in Orgelpark, a concert
hall in Amsterdam that has multiple church organs, in February 2020. The
instrumentation is four music boxes, Mustel harmonium with celesta manu-
al, and two organs—Sauer and Utopa—controlled by MIDI. Unlike the other
pieces which are based on one melody in unison, this one has two simulta-
neous melodies. The instruments are divided into two groups: two music
boxes, celesta, and the Sauer organ play melody 1 and the other two music
boxes, harmonium and the Utopa organ play melody 2.
Melody 1 is faster and resembles melodies from the other pieces of the
series. Melody 2 is slower and complements the ﬁrst one: when superim-
posed, all the notes in melody 2 coincide either with the ﬁrst or the last note
(or both, or neither) in a phrase in melody 1. The unmeasured notation is
used for everybody playing this piece, music boxes included.
There are more changes in this piece than in others because every instru-
ment starts and stops playing at arbitrarily chosen points, so the overall
structure is much more complex as well. Everybody can only play once dur-
ing the piece and must not tell others when it is going to happen. This rule
was derived from the construction of the music boxes (it cannot stop playing
at some point and start again later, because no part of the roll can be omit-
ted) and applied to all the other instruments.
This rule has a substantial role in the structure of the piece and the musi-
cians’ dialogue while playing it. Since any combination of the instruments
can occur at any moment, it results in the creation of a particular hierarchy
of temporal authorities, based on rhythmical ﬂexibility and predictability of
1. celesta and harmonium (one player): the most ﬂexible instrument,
meaning that the player can easily follow whoever plays in unison with
them and the construction of the instrument allows any divergence from
the score—thus the least temporal authority.
2. music boxes: players can vary the speed rather freely, but the rolls
move only in one direction, making them less ﬂexible, and all the notes
are already written on the rolls, making them more predictable, hence
more temporally authoritative than celesta and harmonium.
3. MIDI-organs: the score is translated into a rigid succession of midi-
events, making them the least ﬂexible and the most predictable, thus giv-
ing them the most temporal authority.
But then the material of the piece, given that melody 2 is complementary to-
wards melody 1, in certain combinations can reverse the hierarchy set by the
construction of the instruments. For instance, if celesta plays melody 1 simul-
taneously with (one of the) music boxes playing melody 2, the music box
player(s) are more likely to follow the speed of the celesta player, making ce-
lesta more temporally authoritative. Or, when the music box player(s) play
melody 2 together with harmonium, based on the fragmentary character of
the melody itself, none of them has prevalence over another, meaning none
of them can be authoritative. So, the material aﬀects the temporal authority
of instruments almost to the same degree as their construction.
Besides that, I make a “loop” in the hierarchy by placing a pressure sen-
sor on the pedal of the harmonium, which measures the frequency of the
player’s pedaling and uses these values to change the tempo of the MIDI-ﬁle
played through the two organs. When the harmonium is playing together
with one (or both) of the organs, they become much less predictable but re-
main completely inﬂexible, meaning that, while they maintain their tempo-
ral authority, it cannot be trusted anymore. The table below demonstrates
this hierarchy by placing all the instruments in the order of succession of
levels of their temporal authority.
This hierarchy, together with an assumption that all the musicians choose to
start and stop playing at diﬀerent points, creates a series of switches of atten-
tion from one center to another, providing several shis of temporal authori-
ty between instruments. The overall number of these switches depends on
whether all the starting and stopping points happen independently or some
of them can be simultaneous. Two extremes are possible:
1. If all the players decide to start and stop at the same two points, there
will be no switches at all, hence there will be only one “song.”
Level of TA
Two music boxes
Two music boxes
2. If no points ever coincide, it potentially can (given that the temporal
authority shis with the entering of every new instrument, which also
depends on their order) result in sixteen switches and ﬁeen “songs.”
Since any instrument can start and stop playing at any two points, it is possi-
ble that at some moment silence can occur, e.g. if some instruments have
already ﬁnished playing but some have not yet started. If that happens, those
who have not started need to imagine the melody line to keep going until
they embark on it. In that way, only their imagination and memory have any
temporal authority over them.
Four more songs
This piece was written in April 2020. The instrumentation is free, but it re-
quires at least three people. The ﬁrst performance happened at the Spring
Festival Online, and there were six instruments: ﬂute, trumpet, concertina,
accordion, violin, and viola. The main diﬀerence between this piece and the
others in the series is that it does not use any music boxes. I use music boxes
mainly to disturb the rhythmical precision and make simultaneity impossi-
ble, and these are the same qualities network latency has. However, music
boxes in my pieces start and stop playing at certain points, but latency is an
inherent quality of the internet that cannot be switched on and oﬀ, so I
needed to ﬁnd another way to build dramaturgy in the piece.
Source-Connect Now, a piece of soware developed by Rebekah Wilson,
is necessary for the performance of this piece. It allows playing music to-
gether over the internet with very high sound quality. Its main diﬀerence
from many other programs is that it uses the peer-to-peer connection, mean-
ing that each performer sends a copy of their input signal separately to every
other. It results, as opposed to the server-client model used in most other
programs, in every performer having a somewhat diﬀerent temporal image
than every other.
This quality of connection alone changes musicians’ interaction so much
that I felt like there was not much le to do for me as a composer, so I decid-
ed to merely highlight it with the material of the piece. I focused on two
main aspects of it: altering latency that constantly transforms simultaneity
into succession, and diﬀerent temporal planes in which musicians exist,
making them perceive this succession diﬀerently.
The ﬁrst two songs use materials from Four songs and Up to ﬁeen songs
respectively: at the moment when the change from the ﬁrst to the second
song happens, musicians have to split in two voices. Starting from the sec-
ond performance, made with Russian musicians for the New Acousmatic
project, I slightly changed the material of the ﬁrst song by borrowing from
Two more songs, meaning that when the second song starts with the entrance
of the second voice, the material of the ﬁrst voice remains the same.
Starting from the third, the material grows in complexity. In the third
song, the two-voiced melody from the previous one is written with occasion-
al grace notes. Before, the events that coincide in both voices were meant to
be played simultaneously, but this simultaneity resulted in succession be-
cause of the latency. Now, this succession is ﬁxed in the score and the notes
have to be played in strict order.
However, since every musician hears the rhythm somewhat diﬀerently from
others, it results in a serious complexiﬁcation of heterophony. For instance,
if group A plays a grace note, it means that group B can only play aer it. But,
while some musicians from group B can already have heard the grace note
and played their own, some others are still waiting. This leads to serious con-
fusion, but also immensely intensiﬁes performers’ attention to each other.
The last song creates another level of complexity with the addition of the
third voice. Now, the musicians have to split in three, sometimes having to
play successions of three events: two grace notes and a normal one.
Like in all the pieces from the series, I wanted to make all the changes from
song to song sudden, creating the necessity for performers’ swi reorganiza-
tion. In the case of this piece, I decided to create these changes on the level
of the score, so the score itself would change while they play. For that, I
played the role of a kind of a conductor, manipulating the score for the mu-
sicians, using the screen-sharing feature of the video-conferencing soware.
The songs share a continuous melody, and, during the performance, I
switched ﬁrst from the unison version of it to the one with two voices , then
from the “normal” version to the version with grace notes, and then to the
Of course, the latency was not the only thing that made playing simulta-
neously or in strict successions harder for musicians. It is quite hard to
achieve perfect connection when six people are playing from diﬀerent loca-
tions, especially if not all of them have access to really high-speed internet.
Occasional jitters, distortions, and short drop-outs greatly aﬀect the timbral
perception of sound, making it hard to work out who plays what sometimes.
Another peculiar thing that happens during the performances of this
piece sends us back to the idea of time retardation as a possibility for succes-
sion: every time the texture of the piece becomes more complex, musicians
naturally play more and more slowly, slowing down to an extent that I would
never expect to happen in the other pieces.
By placing the pieces in the order of composing them, I wanted to
demonstrate the evolutionary character of the series development. All of
them share the same investigatory intention, similar principles of ensemble
interaction, and approaches to building the material, which, when put in
various situations and aﬀected by performance spaces, instrumentation, and
my interaction with people who played them, gave quite diﬀerent results,
slowly growing in complexity.
In the ﬁrst version, performed at the Spring Festival Online, the change from the
ﬁrst song to the second happened in the same fashion as in Four songs, at one of the
moments indicated with arrows.
Conclusion. Further explorations
My principal approach to forming the Songs series is to work on one piece at
a time, trying to spend as much time as possible on the rehearsals, trying to
spot all the details in people’s interpretations of my ideas, allowing them to
alter my initial decisions. The series is far from being ﬁnished, and its
growth will hopefully expand beyond my master studies. Writing one piece
at a time, it is hard to predict the vector of the series’ development. However,
the last two pieces have gone quite far away from the ﬁrst one and they raise
many questions I want to explore in further pieces. In particular, Up to ﬁeen
songs opens up an area of exploration of self-playing instruments and their
interaction with human performers, and Four more songs is just a brief glance
I took at the vast ﬁeld of networked music performance, and I foresee a lot of
possible ways of shaping performers’ interaction this medium can oﬀer. Fi-
nally, the latter also suggests a way of increasing the material’s complexity
and density while preserving its uncertainty, which can lead to a way of ex-
ploring not understanding of time within more traditional instrumental set-
tings, without having to disrupt performer’s interaction with external media
of mechanical instruments or the internet.
My approach to this research is similar to that of working on the series.
In fact, the pieces discussed in the last chapter are the main driving force of
my research. Just as each piece had changed drastically the moment I
brought a score to musicians, my theoretical pondering had changed its
course every time the work on a new piece had been ﬁnished.
Just as the series will keep growing, my research will continue beyond
the limits of this paper. It is impossible to predict the course of its develop-
ment or whether it will reach its end or not, but there are many points I
touch upon in this paper, which deserve much closer investigation.
The ideas of an instant and present moment has a vast tradition of con-
tradicting philosophical speculations that could not ﬁnd its place in this pa-
per without making it signiﬁcantly longer, yet I ﬁnd them very important for
my music. The idea of the measure itself seems rather underestimated and
oversimpliﬁed in Bergson’s theory, while Vvedensky, for instance, oﬀers a
very peculiar perspective on it, and it deﬁnitely worth more diligent study-
ing. Finally, networked music performance will occupy my interest for a
while in the nearest future as well, as it is something I had barely any time to
properly explore and its impact on our perception of time is yet to be evalu-
I see the main result of this research in having had several intense expe-
riences of shared confusion with performers of my pieces. This confusion,
based on disrupting the functionality of time-measuring models, gives rise to
a more intuitive “feeling and not understanding” of time. For Bergson, the
basis of intuition is sympathy. As an example of such sympathy, he gives
pity, which he explains as a succession of conscious states “from repugnance
to fear, from fear to sympathy, and from sympathy itself to humility.” This
succession might be one of the most striking examples of duration he gives
in his books because it shows that sympathy as “suﬀering others’ pain” can
be a foundation for experiencing the “real” time-duration. It is strikingly
similar to one passage from Vvedensky’s Gray Notebook, where he describes
his dream where he saw a man to be hanged as a moment of experiencing
time and death “which has stayed ﬁrmly inside” him: “I realized that I had
nowhere to run. Because time is running with me and standing still with the
sentenced one. And if we imagine its area, it’s like one big chair on which
both of us will sit down simultaneously. Aerward, I’ll stand up and walk on,
but he won’t.”
Thus, it might be assumed that losing time can teach us to sympathize,
and through this sympathy, we seem to be able to retain (or at least take a
glance at) some other kind of time—the time we are yet to (not) understand.
Bergson, The Creative Mind, 189
Bergson, Time and Free Will, 19
Vvedensky, The Gray Notebook, 10
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University Press, 2015
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Separation on Synchronization in Rhythmic Performance.” Perception 39
(2010): 982–992, doi:10.1068/p6465
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Einstein, Albert. Relativity: The Special and General Theory. Translated by
Robert W. Lawson. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920
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Writings of Morton Feldman, edited by B. H. Friedmann, Exact Change, 2000.
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Gap Detection Thresholds in Normal-Hearing Young Adults.” International
Journal of Audiology 47, no. 5 (January 2008): 238–245.
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Moore. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
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Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1996.
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Maggs. “The Internet at the Speed of Light.” HotNets-XIII: Proceedings of the
13th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks (2014): 1–7,
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Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988
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Rhythm in the work of Olivier Messiaen]. Moscow: Klassika-XXI, 2002
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Translation.” Journal of Music Theory, no. Vol. 5, No. 2 (Winter 1961): 204–223.
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Notes on organizing the Spring Festival Online
Daniil Pilchen, Hidde Kramer, Domenic Jarlkaganova,
and Cristiano Melli
The idea of organizing this festival emerged as an attempt to substitute for
the Spring Festival, an annual event built mainly around pieces written by
students of the Royal Conservatoire’s Composition Department, which was
canceled because of the COVID-19 crisis. We wanted to create an opportunity
for the students to still present their works, either adapting the ones they
had written for the Spring Festival or completely new ones.
We wanted to keep the organization as horizontal as possible, avoiding
any kind of selection or curatorship, narrowing down the role of organizers
to merely helping composers with the technical preparation of their pieces
and framing the event in such a way that every piece would be presented in
the best way possible. Of course, this approach was complicated by the limits
of our means of communication. Lacking physical presence, we had to orga-
nize everything over conference calls and emails, but these complications
had been easily overcome due to everybody’s involvement and enthusiasm.
Having started as a DIY student initiative, eventually, we got help from
the Conservatoire’s Marketing Department with the graphic materials and
promotion, and Studio LOOS provided us with space we could use to run the
streams, stable internet connection, and some equipment we were lacking.
In the end, it turned out to be an exploration of a wide range of possible
networked concert situations: from ﬁxed-media pieces and solo perfor-
mances to ensemble pieces played by people from diﬀerent countries, pieces
with live electronics, and a sound installation.
We had a vision of having a ﬂuent experience similar to sitting in a con-
cert hall, where the audience is presented with a diverse program and is
blissfully unaware of what’s going on behind the scene to make it all happen
technically and logistically. We also wanted to have as many pieces done live
as possible with no prior recordings that we would just play. The tension of a
live concert, where the outcome and course of the evening are not ﬁxed,
seemed very important in this concept.
Our ﬁrst plan was to have every composer use their own streaming so-
ware and post links to their streams to a common website so the audience
This document may be updated aer the completion of this paper. The newest
version can be accessed via this link: https://bit.ly/SpringFestivalNotes
could click on them at the right time. Obviously, this posed a lot of hassle
and challenges. If we couldn’t stick to the right schedule people would have
to start searching for the link that was active at the moment, and there was a
lot more room for errors.
We had realized that to have this smooth experience we needed to 1)
make all the transitions between the pieces fully automated so the audience
would not have to do anything, and 2) create a kind of “virtual concert hall”:
a website with an embedded video-stream (the stage) and all the information
about the program below it. In between the pieces, while we were making
the transitions, we had waiting screens announcing each following piece.
The site and the waiting screens were designed for us by Julian Verkerk.
To run the stream, we used a combination of diﬀerent techniques, but the
one we used the most was having a hub computer at Studio LOOS, capturing
the sound and video from all the performers, and broadcasting it to Twitch
with OBS (free and open-source broadcasting soware, see obsproject.com).
To capture the sound we used Source-Nexus and Source-Nexus Control (a
virtual audio interface, see below for more details; a free alternative to it
would be Soundﬂower, but its functionality is limited compared to Source-
Nexus) on Mac and Voicemeeter on Windows, for video—simple screen cap-
turing. More details about our streaming protocol in application to diﬀerent
pieces can be found in the next section.
General streaming protocol for the festival
For all the pieces that required live streaming, we used the combination of
OBS and Twitch (we tried using YouTube before, but it has a tendency of
blocking streams with music that cannot be identiﬁed by their algorithm).
However, there could be plenty of diﬀerent manipulations with sound and
video before they get captured by OBS and broadcasted. These manipula-
tions were diﬀerent for each piece, but we managed to develop a more or
less generalized protocol that could be applied (with variations) to all of
them. From the perspective of applying this protocol to diﬀerent pieces we
had at the festival, they can be divided into three groups: ensemble pieces
performed from several diﬀerent rooms, solo pieces with processing and/or
electronics performed in the same room as the streaming computer, and the
pieces that required processing from a remote computer. As we used Mac
and PC computers for diﬀerent pieces (depending on the soware needed,
desired eﬃciency, or simply availability for some musicians), we provided
the information for both when necessary.
2.1.For ensemble pieces:
2.1.1. For audio: Source-Connect Now. The players connect through
a grid on Source-Connect Now (it works in Google Chrome, no
additional soware is needed). The hub computer (that han-
dles the streaming) joins these grids when it is time for the
piece to be performed.
2.1.2. For video: Zoom/Jitsi (preferably Zoom for quality, but the 40-
minute restriction can be a problem). The players connect
through a Zoom/Jitsi meeting with their microphones muted.
The hub computer also joins the meeting with audio and
video turned oﬀ.
2.1.3. For both audio and video at the same time: Source-Elements
Meet. The audio quality is very high and can be compared to
Source-Connect Now, but the video functionality is limited
compared to Jitsi and Zoom.
2. For the solo pieces with processing:
2.1. On Mac:
2.1.1. To broadcast both the original sound from your mi-
crophone and the processed sound from a DAW, you
need to route the sound between the programs using a
virtual audio interface. We used Source-Nexus and
Source-Nexus Control. Install both programs on your
computer. In Source-Nexus Control, create two devices
with two channels each.
2.1.2. In your audio settings, create a combined device (“ag-
gregate device”), selecting both virtual devices you
made and the internal output.
2.1.3. In your DAW, select the aggregate device as your sound
2.1.4. Make sure that all the audio tracks, including your live
input, have their output set to a bus, call this bus the
2.1.5. On the MixBus, create a send to another bus at 0.0dB.
For the output of this send bus, select channels 5–6.
2.1.6. Use the second Nexus device (where you are sending
the channels 5–6 to) as the input device in your stream-
2.2. On Windows:
2.2.1. Since Source-Nexus is not available for Windows, you
need to use another soware for creating virtual de-
vices. We used Voicemeeter Potato. It is a complete vir-
tual internal sound card for Windows. It has multiple
hardware inputs, as well as three “soware channels”
that have an input and output. The soware channels
are selectable as inputs and outputs in any soware
you use (DAWs, Zoom, Jitsi, Source-Connect Now, OBS,
etc.), so with some smart routing, you can make a
complete set-up for all the diﬀerent pieces.
3. For the pieces that require processing from a remote computer:
3.1. On Mac:
3.1.1. Source-Connect Now, Source-Nexus, and Source-Nexus
Control. Install Source-Nexus and Source-Nexus Con-
trol. In Control you can set-up virtual audio devices
with a custom amount of channels. We used three de-
vices with two channels each.
3.1.2. In your audio settings, create an aggregate device and
select both your main output and the two source nexus
devices. Look closely in the overview on top which
channels are the ﬁrst two channels of the ﬁrst Source
Nexus device. With the system output that will most
likely be channels 1–2 of the input channels, and
channels 3–4 of the output channels. Also, look at
which channels correspond with the second and third
Nexus device. Rename the device for clarity.
3.1.3. Connect to your Source-Connect Now grid (N.B. when
setting up, use the stereo option 128kb/s) together with
the player(s). In Settings, select the second Source-
Nexus device as your input, and the ﬁrst as your out-
3.1.4. In your DAW, select the aggregate device you made as
audio input and output. Create three (or more) audio
tracks. One will function as the input of the per-
former’s sound. On the other track(s) your electronics
will be, one version to send to the player, one to the
3.1.5. Send the output of all your channels to a bus, call this
3.1.6. On the track for the input of the performer, select
channels 1–2 as input channels, this will give you the
input of the performer via Source Now.
3.1.7. On the track with the electronics going to the player,
select channels 5–6 (so the second Nexus device) as the
output, this will send the signal to the player via
3.1.8. On the track with the electronics going to the audi-
ence—you should have the MixBus as output—you
should be able to create a delay of the sound, in most
DAWs this can be done via the inspector when you se-
lect the track. Use the delay function to synchronize
the input of the player with the electronics again.
3.1.9. On the MixBus, create a send at 0.0dB to a new bus. Set
the output of this bus to channels 7–8. This will send
the audio to the third Nexus device which you will use
as the input for your streaming application.
3.2. On Windows: use the same methodology but then everything
is routed inside Voicemeeter Potato (installing some extra
“Cable” applications from the Voicemeeter website is advised
to have enough virtual inputs and outputs.
Festival program and technical set-ups of each piece
The program of the festival was built around the pieces using similar con-
nection set-ups so we would use as little time for transition from one piece to
another. However, aer the festival was done, we had realized that tackling
the technical set-up was not at all as diﬃcult as we predicted, so we could
have allowed ourselves to be more inventive with our program, using more
diﬀerent connection and soware combinations each day. In the end, it is
worth noting that, even though the internet imposes many limitations on the
music material itself, on the programming side networked music concerts
can be organized as freely as usual ones if given enough time and eﬀort to
All the pieces on the ﬁrst day of the festival were broadcasted from the
hub computer we had set-up in Studio LOOS. For the ensemble pieces, we
joined the video and audio grids in which musicians had been already wait-
ing, and when it was the time to start the performance we started broadcast-
ing video and audio outputs of all the musicians to our Twitch stream with
OBS. Pieces with more performers alternated with pieces with less, includ-
ing one ﬁxed-media piece, which allowed to thoroughly prepare the start of
the next piece so transition time would be as short as possible. In between
the pieces we used waiting-screen images with the information about each
The second day of the festival consisted almost exclusively of solo pieces
that were broadcasted from the diﬀerent performers’ computers, reducing
the role of organizers to mere communication between them and musicians.
All the changes between computers were made using the streaming key, and
to make the changes as swi as possible we used a separate channel of
communication—an audio call. A person who had just stopped playing sim-
ply counted down and stopped the broadcast on their computer at the same
time as the next person started. This allowed decreasing the gap between
two broadcasts to the minimum. In between the pieces, we again used the
The whole of the third day of the festival was devoted to the eight-channel
sound installation by Tilen Lebar, which was set-up on the separate webpage
(tilenlebar.com) and was working all day (and probably still works). All we
had to do was to put the link to the page on our website.
Yóuell Domenico, Patrick Ellis, Sebastiano Evangelista, Thanakarn Schoﬁeld.
Please, Sink HMS (Her Majesty's Service) - A Musical Suite
Set-up: double bass (Cody Tacasz) connected with a piezo mic to the audio
interface, ﬁxed electronics, and a camera. The electronics were played to
Cody on headphones, and then his sound, combined with the same electron-
ics in DAW, was broadcasted to the listeners together with the picture from
Soware: Voicemeeter Potato (virtual sound card for Windows, together with
Cable A+B, to route all the sound internally). Studio One (DAW). OBS for
broadcasting the stream.
Eva Beunk. Somt Op
Set-up: four people playing instruments in diﬀerent rooms, some having ex-
ternal mic some using built-in laptop mic, all with headphones. A youtube
video was played through Zoom from Eva’s computer, together with the video
from the performers.
Soware: Zoom for video playback and video capturing from performers,
Source-Connect Now for audio between musicians. From the broadcasting
computer, we joined both Zoom and Source-Connect Now to capture all
video and sound output. The sound output went through Voicemeeter to
Hidde Kramer. Valse Lente/False Spring
Set-up: two people (voice and violin) performing in diﬀerent rooms. The
singer used a phone as a microphone and the violinist used a stereo pair of
Soware: Jitsi for video and Source-Connect Now for audio.
Robert Coleman and Pim Piët. City Koto Triptych
Video preloaded into OBS.
Daniil Pilchen. Four songs
Set-up: six people playing in diﬀerent rooms all looking at the same score
Danya was showing with screen-sharing.
Soware: Source-Elements Meet for both video and audio.
Hidde Kramer. The Voices Inside
Set-up: Harry Golden playing tuba with a USB-microphone and Hidde pro-
cessing the sound on his computer, diﬀerent from the one he used for
Soware: Source-Elements Meet for video and audio. Harry, the processing
computer and the broadcasting computer were connected. On the process-
ing computer Source-Nexus was used to get the sound into Logic Pro, and
back out again to the Source Meet room, so both Harry and the broadcasting
computer could hear it. The broadcasting computer got the original sound
from Harry and the sound from the processing computer and broadcasted
Arie Verheul van de Ven. Duo for Altered Violas Altered for Single Altered Viola
Set-up: Arie playing viola with a pick-up mic and electronics.
Soware: the same as for Domenic’s piece on the ﬁrst day: Voicemeeter con-
nected with Ableton and OBS.
Myrto Nizami and Mieke Robroeks. Algal Bloom
Video preloaded into OBS.
Yóuell Domenico. Whoa
The same set-up and soware as for Arie’s piece.
All three pieces were broadcasted from Arie’s computer using OBS and the
key to our Twitch stream.
Harry Golden. Mother
Set-up: Harry singing and playing the piano using a USB-mic.
Soware: OBS with the stream-key
Wilf Amis. The Future of Music
Set-up: Wilf controlling his synthesizers with a phone.
Soware: OBS with the stream-key and TouchOSC.
Tilen Lebar. Emancipated Fauna
Fixed 8-channel installation, uploaded onto a separate webpage.
Recordings and general information about the festival
All the recordings and more information about the festival, including the in-
formation about performers and program notes, can be found on our web-
With this document, we are hoping to be helpful to those willing to organize
their own online concerts and festivals, either now, when usual concerts are
impossible, or later, for performing music over the internet is an exciting
and vastly unexplored ﬁeld. Our experience in no way exhausted the possi-
bilities of this medium, so we think it might be useful to give links to some
resources with more information about networked music performance.
The Constraints, Aesthetic Implications, and Creative Strategies of Composing for
Networked Music Performance: Rebekah Wilson’s extensive research about
networked music performance, exploring both technical and aesthetic ap-
proaches to it.
Options for Remote Music Concerts: a very useful document compiled by Re-
Remote Live Music-Making With Jamulus. Jamulus is another piece of free
soware that allows for really good sound quality. We did not use it at the
festival, but it might be very useful to take a look at it. Despite the name, the
document also gives a very broad overview of the technical set-up needed for
remote concerts, as well as other soware.