Home > Summer School > Summer School 2022 > ARTS MUSIC FILM AND DESIGN > Music and the passage of time


Mr Grant Innes McLachlan, composer, Department of Music, University of Cape Town

Time is the factor which binds all music. All music is made up of waves and cycles – and so is the Universe. Are music and rhythm related to the human heartbeat? Why are we attracted to patterns in music? How do these musical patterns evoke such strong emotions in us?

We will be exploring musical patterns over the centuries – how cycles and repetition are themes which form a constant in all music, not only in Europe from the last thousand years, but from music from all parts of the world from time immemorial. Musical forms such as variation, ground bass, ostinato, trance, verse and chorus are all familiar in the music we listen to.

To try to understand all these connections, we will be listening to the music of, among others, the San people, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and in particular the music of various composers: Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Reich and Glass.


Lecture titles

1.  Music and cycles of familiarity

2.  Music and the human heartbeat: why we like lopsided music

3.  Music and variation

Musical performances

Brahms: F Minor Clarinet sonata

Reich: Sextet

Bach: La Folia

Monteverdi: Zefiro Torna feat





DATE: Monday 17–Wednesday 19 January
TIME: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R225 (online)/R330 (in person)