Rhythm and Resistance (II)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

‘The first specific instance of the notion of matter is resistance.’ (Bachelard 1953, p. 10) If we regard time as a material substance, we can ask what resistance does it offer, and how does that resistance frame our experience? The framing question, ‘what is it that’s going on here?’ (Goffman 1986, p. 8) does not have to refer only to ‘plot’: it can also refer to time – the question perhaps reframes as, ‘what are the temporal constraints or interactions here?’ You can observe this perception in a person who utters the phrase, “Don’t rush me!”, or alternatively “Get a move on!”. Neither of these concerns plot actions; only the experience of time, and the encounter with its resistances in the course of temporal interactions with other selves (Kohn 2013, p. 16). Discussion of rhythm often centres on issues such as ‘entrainment’, and I will argue here that entrainment registers a particular sort of temporal resistance. But entrainment does not account for many aspects of rhythmic practice and experience, as noted by Charles Keil (Keil 1987, pp. 275-283). In particular, the presence of meaning in rhythm is poorly accounted for. Heidegger, in his writing about technology, proposes the resistance of materials to human understanding and control as an energy towards revelation: towards the coming into being of sensations and realizations which challenge an existing order formulation (Heidegger 1993, p. 339). Order is thus seen as a tendency to resist the contingencies of actions and things by presuming to understand them already. A material account of time will try to show how rhythm constitutes a technology that reveals time in a general sense, and how rhythm in music, in particular, creates a play of meaning from the surface of time.

Bachelard, G. 1953. Le Matérialisme Rationnel. Paris: Presse Universitaires de France.
Goffman, I. 1986. Frame Analysis. Boston, Mass.: Northeastern University Press.
Heidegger, M. 1993. The Question Concerning Technology. In Basic Writings. London: Routledge.
Keil, C. 1987. Participatory Discrepancies and the Power of Music. Cultural Anthropology, 2(3), 275-283.
Kohn, E. 2013. How Forests Think. Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2019
EventMusic and Materialisms - Kingston University, Kingston-on-Thames, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Feb 2019 → …


ConferenceMusic and Materialisms
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period23/02/19 → …
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • rhythm
  • materiality
  • object oriented ontology


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