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Sven Bjerstedt


The playing now: A philosophical investigation of present time in music


  • Sven Bjerstedt
  • Hanne Fossum
  • Susanna Leijonhufvud
  • Lia Lonnert

Summary, in English

Music, such as the duration of a musical piece or length of a concert, can me measured by metronomes and clocks in objective time (chronos). However, playing an instrument, singing, attending a concert, listening to a record or reading a musical score are musical activities also experienced as subjective time (kairos). Music has an intrinsic temporal dimension of experienced time, often including an intensification of the present moment, coexisting intertwined with its measurable dimensions. This makes music a fascinating object for philosophical exploration.

Musical practice embodies temporal phenomena like pulse, tempo, timing, ad lib, accelerando and fermata. The musical present can be viewed as a moment of semantic fullness, a meaningful moment. Music can carry narrative, which is a related phenomenon, also containing intrinsic temporality. Furthermore, music can be improvised in the present moment. The tonal texture of music is experienced as a context, a coherency with an intrinsic temporality. This symposium is set to investigate how music can be experienced, philosophically speaking, in the present moment. In order to do this, we introduce a number of prominent Western philosophers who have taken an interest in the phenomenon of time by using the phenomenon of music as a lens: Saint Augustine, Husserl, Bakhtin and Ricoeur. After this introductory presentation, the symposium continues as a dialogue between the perspectives provided by these philosophers.


  • Teaterhögskolan i Malmö
  • Musikhögskolan i Malmö








  • Music

Conference name

19th conference of Nordic Network for Research in Music Education (NNMPF), 2015

Conference date

2015-03-03 - 2015-03-05

Conference place

Helsinki, Finland