No timing, no meaning

In music timing is very important. If you get the rhythm right, the tune will be recognizable as long as the notes are more or less in the right place. If you focus on getting the notes right and get the rhythm wrong, nobody will recognize the melody. It will sound like noise. Notes need to be timed.

People recognize pauses in a conversation. For example we just had a pause, Gill explains, but the pause has been filled with so many thoughts and a sense that the other will eventually move or say something or will do something. So the pause has meaning for each of us in different ways. It might be said that the pause holds intentions. However, intention tends to be considered as being something formulated, as primarily cognitive. Instead, at the Center for Music and Science in the University of Cambridge, Cross has formulated the concept of ‘floating intentionality’ – here intentionality can be said to lie in how each perceives and responds to another’s gesture or vocal sound, or movement. It lies in how those involved make sense of each other. It is spontaneous, and is about sensing. In this sensing there is an essence that is true. Rhythmic interaction embodies this floating intentionality, and carries within a pause. To be able to experience the rhythm, you have to be capable to trust the anticipation. To follow a rhythm, you have to take that risk and risk does involve trust. When the beat does not come, when the rhythm fails you, then you have to readjust your expectations. The rhythm will obviously alter. It will have a break. To be able to get into rhythm of which trust will be the result, a person has to trust this rhythm in the first place.