The Pulses of Time

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 1978
  • Duration: 19:54
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Barry Anderson, West Square Electronic Music Association with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain
  • ISWC: T3025848011


ISRC CAD502010060

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

In memory of Barry Anderson (1935-1987)

The Pulses of Time is based on approaches to the idea of pulse — the regular pulses of metre, the slower pulses underlying the longer-term progress of sections, the accelerating pulses of bounces, the pulses of iterative morphologies, and the compacted pulsing grains of textural interiors. The work comprises a series of sections, each identified with particular sound-types and sources — the synthesized bounced sound, metallic harmonies which expand the resonances of dramatic attacks, noise contours, drums and percussion both real and synthesized, and the clavichord, which provides a rich reservoir of sounds — clusters, sighing contours, percussive soundboard resonances, strings plucked and stroked. The main contrast is among improvised clavichord gestures, electronic synthesized material (EMS Synthi 100 voltage-controlled synthesizer), and dance-like sequences.


The Pulses of Time was realized in 1978 in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) and premiered in 1979, in a concert given by the West Square Electronic Music Ensemble in St John’s Smith Square in London (UK). It was commissioned by Barry Anderson and the West Square Electronic Music Association with funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain. The Pulses of Time is now dedicated to the memory of Barry Anderson who died in 1987 at the age of 52.



  • 1979, Concert, St John’s Smith Square, London (England, UK)