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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

“Expressive timing” refers to variation in performed durations among notes represented in a musical score with a single rhythmic value. The principal findings of the field are that performers use unequal durations to communicate grouping and metric structure, but these findings pertain primarily to performances of European solo piano music written between 1775 and 1850. This article presents three case studies of timing in repertoires at ever greater remove from those typically addressed: performances of Brahms’s Concerto for Violin, Varèse’s Density 21.5 for Solo Flute, and Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 rap track “Momma.” Through these case studies, the article expands the number of repertoires addressed by studies of expressive timing and, in doing so, expands the scope of music theory toward the study of multiple musical agencies.

Keywords: expressive timing, performance, rhythm, tempo, flow, Brahms, Varèse, Kendrick Lamar, rap music.

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