Table 11. Musical factors of simultaneous multidimensionality

  1. Dualism of tempo: Tempo may be perceived at the level of the main flow of beats, in double-time or cut-time, or according to a set of beats in 3:2 ratio with the music’s principal beats.
  2. Polyphonic perception: Any of the parts, or combination of parts, may be the vantage point from which other phrases gain their music personality. Musical combinations sound different depending on how the mind constructs the conversation among parts.
  3. Equivocal phrase shape: Because phrases typically are played again-and-again in a recurring circle of time, their phrase shape is equivocal. Although a phrase does have moments within the bell cycle on which it begins and ends—its phrasing—a repeatedly played phrase gives a listener the opportunity to mentally re-phrase it, that is, to hear the set of notes as beginning on a new stroke and having an altered rhythmodic trajectory towards a new moment of cadence. Cultural experts regard the bell phrase as an inexhaustible source of rhythmic inspiration for just this very reason.
  4. Musical recycling: The situation of musical circularity means that phrases are affected by what has come before, while they also have impact upon what will come next. To invoke what probably is the most well known characteristic of Black music, any musical event simultaneously “calls” and “responds.”
  5. Meter as a matrix: Especially in music with ternary-type beats, the multilayered grid of temporal units in the metric matrix provides a large set of orientation points for figure-ground perception. Beats of the different durations may be felt at their onbeat time-points as well at their offbeat time-points, thus multiplying the metric bases for configuring the overall musical gestalt of the ETC. When the music consistently accents offbeat time-points, a listener who maintains perception on unchanging onbeats will experience consistent offbeat accentuation, but a listener whose basis of orientation shifts to the accented offbeat time-points will experience displacement. In quaternary time, re-configuration most often happens when the upbeat is perceived as the onbeat, that is, beat inversion.
  6. Polysemous phrases: Phrases may be perceived in terms of (a) motor image: the body actions that make the sound, (b) played image: their own rhythmody, and (c) heard image: how they blend with other facets of the music, both sonic and abstract (see Kubik 1962). The motor image not only includes the combined action of both hands but also the results of each hand heard as a phrase in its own right. Phrases whose played image is made from strokes having identical time-values—usually represented in notation as a series of eighth notes—are particularly capable of generating several different heard images.