Digital phasing: Using latency as an agent for metric change

Research output: Other contributionOtherpeer-review


Drumming is recognised as a watershed moment in western art music not only for its unique instrumentation and compositional innovations such as phasing, but also for the distributed leadership model in the unconducted ensemble. The well-known rehearsal model used to develop the materials and processes that unfold during Drumming fifty years ago seems a fantastical dream from another time, as musical communities disintegrate during pandemic lockdowns, and the physical nearness so valued in music making is not permitted by law. Digital nearness however, offers new opportunities for real-time music making, simultaneously revealing metric quirks reminiscent of the phasing techniques Reich employed in Drumming. Commissioned as part of the Digital Phasing project by Louise Devenish, Jet Kye Chong’s Still Drumming 2020 exploits latency and geographical distance, offering a pandemic perspective on Reich’s signature techniques. Out-of-phase rhythmic cells are perceived as stable, with moments of unity experienced only in transition as the work progresses. The untethered feeling familiar to phasing performers of Reich’s Drumming is the default state in Still Drumming 2020, as numerous out-of-phase states exist simultaneously depending on location and corresponding latencies. Mirroring the wide range of individual experience during the global pandemic, each performer and listener experience a unique version of this work in performance specific to their location.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Toronto
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • percussion
  • performance
  • latency
  • telematic performance
  • pandemic
  • Steve Reich
  • new music
  • music

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