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Algorithmic Music and the Philosophy of Time

Julian Rohrhuber

What is time? This question has captivated philosophy again and again. The present chapter investigates in how far algorithms involve temporality in a specific form, and why algorithmic music is a distinctive way of understanding time.

Its orienting undercurrent is the idea that temporality, by its very nature, gives rise to conflictual perspectives that resist the attempt to be rendered in terms of a unified presence. They are coordinates of a tension field in which the algorithmic is necessarily embedded and invested, and which unfolds in algorithmic music. Drawing from a selection of examples and sources, the chapter leads through a series of such contradictions and touches upon a few interesting theories of time that have sprung from philosophy, music, and computer science, as to actualise their mutual import.

 

Modified preprint of Chapter 2 in: Alex McLean and Roger T. Dean, (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Algorithmic Music, Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780190226992 https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190226992.013.1
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