Specifically in this picture/piecethe shaggs philosophy of the world notation

This is the link to the whole piece, performed on piano with notation

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    If you listen to the original track: youtube.com/watch?v=jQqK1CjE9bA you will notice that the members of the band are playing fantastically out of sync with one another. The notation provided is attempting the somewhat implausible task of quantifying exactly how out of sync they are. It does not do a great job in my opinion – the rendition really doesn't have the same essence. Jun 9, 2021 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


The arrows and sixteenth-notes (or sometimes eighth-notes) indicate the time offset between measures in the upper and lower staves.

They don't have musical meaning in themselves. They're guideposts to help interpret the varying positions of the barlines between the two staves.

In the below image, from 0:20 in the video, it shows that the upper stave's 7/16 measure begins first, and the lower stave's 3/4 measure begins offset by one sixtheenth from the upper stave. This offset continues into the shift of the lower stave to 4/4. The upper stave's measure of 3/4 begins one sixteenth after the lower stave's 4/4 measure begins.

screenshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVsarSjDsTU&t=20s

The situation is a bit more complex in this next image from 0:28. Here, the offset between barlines of each stave is greater. For example, the upper stave's 7/16 measure begins five sixteenth-note pulses before the lower stave's 3/4 measure begins.

screenshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVsarSjDsTU&t=28s

  • "They don't have musical meaning in themselves": it seems to me that specifying the temporal spacing of sounds is indeed one kind of musical meaning.
    – phoog
    Jun 9, 2021 at 5:01
  • @phoog Fair. My thinking was that since the time signatures already provide the necessary information, the arrows just serve to clarify what's already there. They don't change how the score would otherwise be realized.
    – Aaron
    Jun 9, 2021 at 5:03
  • Oh I see. Are they redundant then? I haven't looked in detail.
    – phoog
    Jun 9, 2021 at 5:04
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    @phoog Technically, yes, they're redundant, but they help a great deal in keeping track of things rhythmically.
    – Aaron
    Jun 9, 2021 at 5:05
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    Wow. I thought Philosophy of the World was surreal enough, but someone transcribed it? Mystifying.
    – Bort
    Jun 9, 2021 at 14:31

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