Desain, P., & Honing, H. (1996). Physical motion as a metaphor for timing in music: the final ritard. In Proceedings of the 1996 International Computer Music Conference. 458-460. San Francisco: ICMA.


Both in music theory and in music psychology the metaphor that links expressive timing and movement of a physical mass under forces is abundant, and has inspired new theoretical results. However, the attractiveness of the analogy and the "naturalness" of the explanation may fool the investigator. We believe music plays on, and makes use of the architecture of our perceptual systems, and that perceptual theories, in principle, can go quite far in bringing forward explanations of the many subtleties involved in the performance of music. Nevertheless, it is sensible to use the physical motion approach wherever it can contribute to our understanding of musical expression, and to precisely investigate the consequences of the claims made by the proponents of this approach.

Full Paper