Residency B: Tempo Polyphony

The research project Polytempo studies music with complex temporal structures, especially multitemporal music that consists of parallel and independent tempo layers. This project combines technological and creative work to aim for three goals: developing software tools, establishing a corpus of polytemporal music, and documenting these works and their musicological and aesthetic implications.

The application PolytempoNetwork, developed in the Polytempo project, is the primary tool for communicating tempo to musicians via a click track or visual animation. By connecting multiple instances of this application in a local network, it is possible to keep musicians in sync even in complex tempo structures that would be impossible to realise through conventional musical communication and interaction. Such structures consist of tempos in complicated ratios or accelerating or decelerating independently.

Another application, named PolytempoComposer, is a tool to explore, sketch and organise complex tempo structures. It enables composers to find or adjust synchronisation points between voices in different tempos and tackle the sometimes tedious mathematical problems involved in composing tempo polyphonies.

For more information, visit:

Construction of a variable tempo (Diagram: Philippe Kocher, ICST 2019)

Composers applying for this residency are interested in the possibilities of tempo polyphony as well as in the interweaving of compositional and improvisational strategies. These interests are reflected in a conceptual idea or compositional sketch submitted as part of the application. It treats tempo as a variable parameter that can be based on interaction, algorithmically generated in real-time or part of an improvisational setting. Concepts that incorporate electroacoustic sound processing or improvising laptop musicians are explicitly encouraged.

In addition, a selective portfolio of 2–3 works reflecting the candidate’s profound interest in experimental tempo structures must be submitted. The pieces created during the residency will be performed by a ZHdK jazz ensemble in November 2024. The exact line-up is yet to be announced.

Since the residency entails several trips to Zurich, the application is limited to candidates who will be arriving from within Europe.

Student ensemble playing with Polytempo Network (ICST 2023)

Course of the residency
The residency comprises a preparatory online kick-off meeting and three stays of one to two days each at ICST, during which workshop-type rehearsals with the ensemble musicians will take place. A detailed description can be downloaded here.
In addition to travel and living expenses (see Conditions/Selection process), residents of the Tempo Polyphony Residence will receive a composition fee of CHF 2,000.

The participating ensemble will give the work’s first performance within a concert at the ZHdK in November 2024.