Positional Rhythmic Notation: an Implication for a Positional Theory of Rhythm

Moraes, M. R.

Departamento de Formação Artística
Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo
Av. Fernando Ferrari S/N
CEP 29060 Vitória, ES


Computer modelling of music, and for that matter any applications in music, reflects a musical theory, which is in itself a model. Thus, if there is any inadequacy in the theory, a computer model that successfully embodies that theory will also include that inadequacy. One of such inadequacies is the assumption that duration is a concept central to rhythm. We claim, instead, that onset positions play a central role. Among the many potential consequences of such a claim we maintain that a purely rhythmic notation must reflect different positions within a tree hierarchiy, rather than durations. Bearing this mind, we devised a notation such that only either presence or absense of the onset of a sound on a specific locus are represented. Some issues related to the way a user thinks and acts when inputting musical data into the computer vis-à-vis positional notation, and the positional concept itself, are discussed. The impact of positional notation (and the positional concept) on music teaching begs special attention.