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