Time Structured Mapping

Last updated

Time Structured Mapping (TSM) is a score based system created and used by the composer Pete M Wyer. It uses the bar-lines found in conventional musical scores to indicate durational periods during which performers, who may include actors, singers, dancers, poets as well as musicians, are given instructions, which may include conventional musical scoring or improvisational guidelines. The system allows large and sometimes disparate groups to improvise together coherently, or to combine improvisation with scored music or with other media. It has been used to get orchestras, including the Orchestra of the Swan (see below), to improvise effectively and in educational projects, to combine student musicians with professionals, such as with Welsh National Opera and to combine other media such as dance and poetry with musical improvisation in a structured form, such as with Miro Dance Theatre, Philadelphia. [1]


The flexibility of the system has allowed for the combination of musicians from very different backgrounds, as well as disparate ensembles with players of very different standards. Works generally combine improvisation with conventional scoring and move frequently from one system to the other. The synchronisation using 'clock-time' as a basis has also enabled works made up of players who are spatially separated such as with Four Bridges which was performed simultaneously in Britain, Germany, America and India, it allows for works which alter the conventional relationship of the composer with the musician by involving the performer directly into the creative process.

Beginnings - The Simultaneity Project

In 2004 Wyer began creating Simultaneity works: works that made recordings at the same time in different locations. The first recordings took place around Columbus Circle, New York – Wyer mapped out a circumference that passed through the Time Warner building and around the periphery of Columbus Circle itself and, with the help of a team of volunteer staff from WNYC radio, made a series of simultaneous recordings that, when played back across multiple speakers, gave what he described as a ‘God’s ear view’ of the location – the experience of being at all points simultaneously; cars, subway trains and people moved from speaker to speaker, featuring the endless rotation of revolving doors that interfaced the very contrasting sonic landscape of the interior of the Time Warner Building with the bustling Manhattan streets outside.

This led to Simultaneity recordings that were not made in the same location: in December 2004, with volunteers primarily from CEC Canada's online forum, a recording was made simultaneously in countries around the world: volunteers were asked to record exactly the same twenty minutes of their environment wherever they were in the world, regardless of time-zone, but to include something that marked the hour changing. Volunteers recorded dawn choruses (Australia), tolling bells (Australia), railway station announcements (New Zealand), clocks in a clock shop (San Francisco), ambient sound in Police Square (Manhattan), evening traffic (Berlin), the backstage at English National Opera (London) late night rains (Tunis) late night chatter (Mumbai), the sounds of the jungle (Laos), dogs barking (northern Alaska). Resulting in a complex array of sounds that coalesced into a moment of intensity as the hour struck and then dissipated back to the disparate ambient environments.

Time structured mapping

In his search to incorporate the philosophy of Simultaneity within western musical systems, Wyer returned to a frequent inspiration; birdsong; struck by the endless combinations and re-combinations of the songs of the dawn chorus he began considering ways to create systems that would enable simultaneous solos that combined in musically intelligent, coherent ways - that necessarily moved away from the western convention of counting a beat for each bar.

In 2005 Wyer made his first Time Structured Maps using the same basic scores as might be used for an orchestra but where each bar-line represented a period of 30 seconds rather than a count and each ‘bar’ consisted of a set of instructions for how to improvise during that time period, which might be very specific or left ambiguous. The result was a system that enabled musicians from all backgrounds to play together, and to incorporate other forms such as dance, speech etc. within a score.

The first significant work for the system was for the Orchestra of the Swan with a Time Structured Map (TSM) based work called Traveller, There Are No Paths, Paths Are Made By Walking created in the summer of 2005. A second, much more ambitious work, Four Bridges, was performed in November 2005, it combined the ideas of Simultaneity with the Time Structured Mapping system: the Orchestra of the Swan played from the score in England while pianist Burkhard Finke in Frankfurt, microtonal vocal specialist Toby Twining in Boston and Indian Classical singer Anand Thakore in Mumbai performed simultaneously from the same score, without hearing each other – each performance was recorded and later combined into a work for 8 speakers, which was later broadcast on WNYC New Sounds.

In 2009, Time Structured Mapping was used for the creation of the one-hour Insomnia Poems for BBC Radio 3 (Jazz On 3) [2] which combined post-beat poet Steve Dalachinsky with a five-piece band consisting of soprano, Evelyne Beech, electronics and processing, Mike Cross, clarinets and saxes, Chris Cundy, bass, Robert Perry and Pete M Wyer on guitar, piano with found sounds and manipulations – each performing with a synchronized stopwatch. The piece was popularly received, retaining the energy and spontaneity of improvisation within the dynamic and tonal structure of a conventionally scored piece.

Further development, funded by the Arts Council Of England, enabled workshops which in turn led to new works using the system: Welsh National Opera [3] used it for a series of educational works alongside their 2010 UK tour, the Orchestra of the Swan also using TSM scores for Four Sonnets, a twenty-minute work created in July 2010 which combined improvisation within the orchestra with text fragments submitted according to the score from members of the public and Listening To The Sky', a one hour work for chamber group with sound design, which used a TSM score to combine orchestra performance with sounds created according to the Time Structured Map.

Related Research Articles

Classical period (music) Genre of Western music (c. 1730–1820)

The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.

Music Form of art using sound and silence

Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική.

Orchestra Large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including

New England Digital

New England Digital Corporation (1976–1993) was founded in Norwich, Vermont, and relocated to White River Junction, Vermont. It was best known for its signature product, the Synclavier Synthesizer System, which evolved into the Synclavier Digital Audio System or "Tapeless Studio." The company sold an FM digital synthesizer/16-bit polyphonic synthesizer and magnetic disk-based non-linear 16-bit digital recording product, referred to as the "Post-Pro."

Musical composition Original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece

Musical composition, music composition or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other musicians. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.

Free improvisation or free music is improvised music without any rules beyond the logic or inclination of the musician(s) involved. The term can refer to both a technique and as a recognizable genre in its own right.

Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation that uses musical symbols to indicate the pitches, rhythms, or chords of a song or instrumental musical piece. Like its analogs – printed books or pamphlets in English, Arabic, or other languages – the medium of sheet music typically is paper, although the access to musical notation since the 1980s has included the presentation of musical notation on computer screens and the development of scorewriter computer programs that can notate a song or piece electronically, and, in some cases, "play back" the notated music using a synthesizer or virtual instruments.

Composer Musician who is an author of music in any form

A composer is a person who writes music, especially classical music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Anthony Braxton American musician, composer, and philosopher

Anthony Braxton is an African-American experimental composer, improviser, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist. Braxton grew up on Chicago’s South Side and was a key early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He won acclaim for his 1969 recording For Alto, the first full-length album of solo saxophone music.

Accompaniment Musical parts which provide the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece

Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.

Joby Talbot British composer (born 1971)

Joby Talbot is a British composer. He has written for a wide variety of purposes and an accordingly broad range of styles, including instrumental and vocal concert music, film and television scores, pop arrangements and works for dance. He is therefore known to sometimes disparate audiences for quite different works.

Pietro Raimondi

Pietro Raimondi was an Italian composer, transitional between the Classical and Romantic eras. While he was famous at the time as a composer of operas and sacred music, he was also as an innovator in contrapuntal technique as well as in creation of gigantic musical simultaneities.

Alice Anne LeBaron is a United States composer and harpist.

Transcription (music)

In music, transcription is the practice of notating a piece or a sound which was previously unnotated and/or unpopular as a written music, for example, a jazz improvisation or a video game soundtrack. When a musician is tasked with creating sheet music from a recording and they write down the notes that make up the piece in music notation, it is said that they created a musical transcription of that recording. Transcription may also mean rewriting a piece of music, either solo or ensemble, for another instrument or other instruments than which it was originally intended. The Beethoven Symphonies transcribed for solo piano by Franz Liszt are an example. Transcription in this sense is sometimes called arrangement, although strictly speaking transcriptions are faithful adaptations, whereas arrangements change significant aspects of the original piece.

Classical music Broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, generally considered to have begun in Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late 5th century CE and continuing to present day. Classical music refers to Western musical traditions considered to be apart from or a refinement of Western folk music or popular music traditions. The major periods are the medieval (500–1400), Renaissance (1400–1600), Baroque (1600–1750), Classical (1750–1820), Romantic (1800–1910), Modernist (1890–1975) and Postmodern era/Contemporary (1950–present) eras. These periods and their dates are all approximate generalizations and represent gradual stylistic shifts that varied in intensity and prominence throughout the Western world.

Virtual orchestra refers to a variety of different types of technologies and art forms. Most commonly used to refer to orchestral simulations, either for pre-recorded or live environments, it also has been used in other ways, such as IRCAM’s virtual orchestra database.

Orchestral enhancement is the technique of using orchestration techniques, architectural modifications, or electronic technologies to modify the sound, complexity, or color of a musical theatre, ballet or opera pit orchestra. Orchestral enhancements are used both to create new sounds and to add capabilities to existing orchestral ensembles.

Glossary of jazz and popular music List of definitions of terms and jargon used in jazz and popular music

This is a list of jazz and popular music terms that are likely to be encountered in printed popular music songbooks, fake books and vocal scores, big band scores, jazz, and rock concert reviews, and album liner notes. This glossary includes terms for musical instruments, playing or singing techniques, amplifiers, effects units, sound reinforcement equipment, and recording gear and techniques which are widely used in jazz and popular music. Most of the terms are in English, but in some cases, terms from other languages are encountered.

Pete M. Wyer is a British composer.

Faking (Western classical music)

In instrumental music performances in Western classical music, "faking" is the process by which a musician gives the "...impression of playing every note as written" in the printed music part, typically for a very challenging passage that is very high in pitch and/or very rapid, while not actually playing all of the notes in the part. Faking may be done by an orchestra musician, a concerto soloist or a chamber musician; however, faking tends to be more associated with orchestra playing, because the presence of such a large music ensemble makes it easier for musicians who "fake" to do so without being detected. A concerto soloist or chamber musician who faked passages would be much easier for audience members and other musicians to detect. Orchestra musicians at every level, from amateur orchestras and youth orchestras to professional orchestra players will occasionally "fake" a hard passage.


  1. Jackson, Merilyn (11 May 2009). "Exploring quantum physics & relationship with romance". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  2. BBC Radio 3 Jazz On 3.[ full citation needed ]
  3. Welsh National Opera.[ full citation needed ]