Notating disfluencies and temporal deviations in music and arrhythmia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Expressive music performance and cardiac arrhythmia can be viewed as deformations of, or deviations from, an underlying pulse stream. I propose that the results of these pulse displacements can be treated as actual rhythms and represented accurately via a literal application of common music notation, which encodes proportional relations among duration categories, and figural and metric groupings. I apply the theory to recorded music containing extreme timing deviations and to electrocardiographic (ECG) recordings of cardiac arrhythmias. The rhythm transcriptions are based on rigorous computer-assisted quantitative measurements of onset timings and durations. The root-mean-square error ranges for the rhythm transcriptions were (19.1, 87.4) ms for the music samples and (24.8, 53.0) ms for the arrhythmia examples. For the performed music, the representation makes concrete the gap between the score and performance. For the arrhythmia ECGs, the transcriptions show rhythmic patterns evolving through time, progressions which are obscured by predominant individual beat morphology- and frequency-based representations. To make tangible the similarities between cardiac and music rhythms, I match the heart rhythms to music with similar rhythms to form assemblage pieces. The use of music notation leads to representations that enable formal comparisons and automated as well as human-readable analysis of the time structures of performed music and of arrhythmia ECG sequences beyond what is currently possible.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalMusic & Science
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2018


  • atrial fibrillation
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • expressive music performance
  • free rhythms
  • irregular pulse
  • meter
  • music notation
  • music representation
  • timing


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  • Quantifying Karajan: Timing, Dynamics and Harmonic Tension

    Chew, E., 1 Sept 2023, "Seine ganze Musikdeutung geht ja vom Klang aus". Musikalische Interpretation bei Herbert von Karajan. Aringer, K., Revers, P. & Wozonig, T. (eds.). Hildesheim: Olms, p. 25-41 17 p. 2

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

  • Annotation and Analysis of Recorded Piano Performances on the Web

    Fyfe, L., Bedoya, D. & Chew, E., Nov 2022, In: JAES Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. 70, 11, p. 962-978

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    2 Citations (Scopus)
    51 Downloads (Pure)
  • On Making Music with Heartbeats

    Chew, E., 3 Jul 2021, Handbook of Artificial Intelligence for Music: Foundations, Advanced Approaches, and Developments for Creativity. 1 ed. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, Cham, p. 237 25 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    Open Access

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