The Mechanics of Tipping Points: A Case of Extreme Elasticity in Expressive Timing

Part of the Computational Music Science book series (CMS)


Tipping points are an observable and experienced natural phenomenon that has been invoked metaphorically across various domains external to physics. This article introduces the tipping point analogy for musical timing, and presents three case studies illustrating the concept. Quantitative data from recorded performances presented in score-time graphs support the illustrations. The examples show how musicians employ tipping points in performance, and demonstrate how tipping points play on the listener’s expectations to elicit emotion. Tipping points form principal tools for the performer’s choreography of expectation; the pervasiveness of tipping points in human experience make them an important strategy also for ensemble coordination.


Tipping Points Extreme Elasticity Musical Time Ensemble Coordination Gianni Schicchi 
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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Electronic Engineering and Computer ScienceQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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