Representation: **Zeit

Humdrum Representation for Absolute Time Period


**Zeit – absolute period of time


The **Zeit representation is used to represent spans of time, such as the life-span of a composer, or the chronology of a rehearsal. The syntax for **Zeit is nearly identical to the ****date** representation. Since **Zeit represents a span of time, two date tokens must be specified and separated by a dash (-). For example, the **Zeit data token 1770/-1827/ represents the period from 1770 to 1827.

The **Zeit representation includes all of the features of ****date** for signifying approximation (~), uncertainty (?), approximate value (x), uncertain value (z), as well as between-range (^), either-or (|), prior (<) and after (>) boundaries. Either one or both of the dates specified in a **Zeit data token may encode complex degrees of approximation or uncertainty.

Conceptually, **Zeit data tokens consist of two ****date** “sub-tokens.” Zeit tokens are encoded according to the following basic syntax:


The data tokens making-up the **Zeit information may be encoded in full, or may consist of isolated elements or parts. The following table shows the most succinct ways of encoding single date values within sub-tokens in **Zeit:

.11 eleven one-hundredths of a second
11 11th second
11: 11th minute
11:: 11 o’clock
11/ A.D. 11
/11 November
//11 11th day of the month

Examples of **date* sub-components*

Notice that if a single numerical value appears, it is interpreted as seconds; if a single value appears followed by a slash, it is interpreted as a year; if a single value appears followed by a colon, it is interpreted as a minutes. Days and hours require two leading or two trailing delimiters respectively. In general, abbreviated forms of date sub-tokens tend to favor the two extremes of time: seconds and years. These are the time frames that are typically of greatest interest to music scholars.

The **Zeit representation makes use of the Gregorian calendar and the 24-hour clock. Dates prior to the year 1 A.D. can be specified by prepending a minus sign to the year.

The **Zeit representation provides three distinct means for representing approximate moments. It also provides two independent means for representing uncertainty, as well as mechanisms for representing time boundaries (prior to ...; after ...). For the appropriate representation syntax refer to ****date**.


It is recommended that files containing predominantly **Zeit data should be given names with the distinguishing `.zt’ extension.


The following table summarizes the **Zeit mappings of signifiers and signifieds.

sub-token separator (from-to); (must appear
  in each **Zeit data token)
0-9 decimal values
@ year B.C. rather than A.D.
/ year-month, month-day and day-hour delimiter
: hour-minute and minute-second delimiter
. fractional second delimiter; null token
? date uncertain
z value uncertain
~ date approximate
x value approximate
< sometime prior to
> sometime after
^ “between” conjunction
| “or” conjunction

Summary of ***Zeit** Signifiers*


Several examples of **Zeit data tokens are identified below:

**Zeit tokens meaning 1939/-1945/ From 1939 to 1945. 1817/06/02/-1817/6/15 From June 2nd to 15th, 1817. 1817/6/02/-1817/06/15 From June 2nd to 15th, 1817. ///10::-///11:: From 10 AM to 11 AM. 10::-11:: From 10 AM to 11 AM. ~10::-~11:: From approximately 10 AM to approximately 11 AM. >22::-<23:: From sometime after 10 PM to sometime before 11 PM. :11:51-:12:35 From 11 minutes 51 seconds to 12 minutes 35 seconds. .001-.008 From 1 millisecond to 8 milliseconds. 23.8-41.3 From 23.8 seconds to 41.3 seconds. //12/31-//1/1 From December 31st to New Years’ Day. <?1231///-1283/3/9 From before perhaps 1231 to March 9th 1283. <1724/2//-1724/4z/2 From before Feb. 1724 to April (?) 2nd 1724. 1848/|1849/-1851/ From 1848 or 1849 to 1851. /5/9/^/5/11/-//8/23 Starting sometime between May 9th and 11th ending August 23rd. Examples of ***Zeit** Tokens*

The following examples illustrate the use of the **Zeit representation:

**Zeit **maker
?1644/-1737/12/18 Stradivari, Antonio
1794/4/9-1881/11/25 Boehm, Theobald
1797/2/15-1871/2/7 Steinweg, Heinrich
1814/11/6-1894/2/4 Sax, Adolphe
*- *-
**Zeit **recording log
/4/9:20:18-/4/9:20:20 Aria - Take #1
/4/9:20:20-/4/9:20:22 Aria - Take #2
/4/9:20:23-/4/9:20:25 Aria - Take #3
/4/9:20:25-/4/9:20:27 Var.1 - Take #1
*- *-
**Zeit **section
0:0-0:23 Introduction
0:23-1:58 Exposition
1:58.3-3:22 Development
3:22-4:51 Recapitulation
4:52-5:04 Coda
*- *-
**Zeit **style
~1450/-~1600/ Renaissance
~1600/-~1750/ Baroque
~1775/-~1825/ Classicism
~1800/-~1900/ Romanticism
*- *-


Currently, no special-purpose Humdrum commands produce **Zeit as output, or process **Zeit encoded data as input.


The following tandem interpretations can be used in conjunction with **Zeit:

meter signatures *M6/8

Tandem interpretations for ***Zeit***


`` **date, **dur, **metpos, **ordo, **recip, **takt, **time``