To have an awareness of phenomenology in compositional practice is to actively ask specific questions about the listener’s experience and our consciousness when writing music; where our concentration might lie? How might we perceive sound? What emotions might we feel? If a phenomenological approach is present in the compositional practice, then there is both a dynamic relationship between the composer and listener and a vested subjectivity in the conception of the musical idea along with the piece’s subsequent architecture. This essay will focus specifically on how an awareness of temporal perceptions and ideas of consciousness when composing might change compositional practice. My current musical interests lie in the unfolding of the combinatorial process over time that results in a static sound world. When listening and reflecting on my music, I have found that the experience of narrative does not lie in ‘the music itself’, something which the American musicologist Richard Taruskin describes as a “cordon sanitaire…a quarantine staking out a decontaminated space within which music can be composed, performed and listened to in a cultural and historical vacuum, this is, in perfect sterility.” Rather, the experiential chronology lies in the way that the listener perceives repetition, experiences the flexing of time and the fluctuation in their concentration. At one point in the music, their attention may be focused deep into the chronology and development of the enumeration but may shift to another extreme, not even focusing on the fact they are listening to music.
Opposing this, to see the world from a semiological approach is to view ‘the world itself’ as meaningful. When referring to objects, the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce defined three phenomenological categories; icons, indexes and symbols . There are some ways in which composers have displayed signs iconographically in their music, e.g. diegetic sound, The Finnish musicologist Eero Tarasti writes about symbols in Bach’s music, using the example of interleaving cross-shaped melodies, which Bach extensively used in his music, which “acted as a meaningful musical sign: it represented the cross and thus the Christ.” However, indexical and symbolic signs are much more common. Indexical signs, as described by Terrence Deacon William, are “mediated by some physical or temporal connection between sign and object.” In music, displaying concepts through causal links exist when, for example, percussionist imitate thunder rolls. Taking this Cartesian approach, we would be able to, as listeners of logical sound, decode to comprehend what empirically the meaning of the music. However, an awareness of symbolic representation for a composer, being unnatural but socially accepted signs like a 4-3 suspension connoting tension, is to accept that an individual reading of a sound or piece of music is personal to that listener. Our senses and emotions impact how we interpret music but also come as a precursor to our semiotic interpretation of a musical sign. René Descartes suggests that our perception and a priori meaning of the world is distracted by our emotional responses or the fragility of our senses, saying, “Perception...is neither a seeing, nor a touching, nor an imagining...rather it is an inspection on the part of the mind alone.” So, to see the world phenomenologically suggests that musical meaning would only come into existence in relation to our own emotional responses and sensory experience. In other words, in a musical performance, our emotional response from the music contributes to part of the music’s meaning; this meaning only comes into existence when there is a listener present.
To have an awareness of the temporal implications of the music during the compositional process would be to engage with phenomenology; to understand that the experience of time passing is both momentary and personal to every individual listener. Although there may be fortuitous events that create changes in this experience as something personal, such as extraneous sound from the concert hall or the physical eccentricities of a performance, many composers who engage with statis in their work naturally display phenomenological awareness. The composer Brian Ferneyhough states:
When we listen intensively to a piece of music, there are moments where our consciousness detaches itself from the immediate flow of events and comes to stand apart, measuring, scanning, aware of itself in a 'speculative time-space' of dimensions different from those appropriate to the musical discourse in and of itself. 
Static music naturally lacks teleology; the narrative of musical experience is not engraved in the score. Instead, the narrative (or at least, chronology) is transferred to the listener, made up of momentary experience where one might zoom in and out of a score, observing minute details in the sound or being more aware of the physicality of the space the music is being performed in. The British composer Bryn Harrison’s work actively engages with implications of temporality on musical composition. James Saunders describes his music as being concerned with “the passing of time, exploring how it might operate in a non-teleological way, trying to slow it down, or suspend it momentarily.”  Harrison’s work Surface Forms (repeating) engages with “the exploration of time through the use of recursive musical forms which challenge our perceptions of time and space by viewing the same material from different angles or perspectives”.  His music seems to engage with both the passing of time as momentary, both on a small and large scale. The use of repeating cells, as seen in Figure 1  in the appendix, establishes a continuity, allowing the listener to engage with the piece’s structural elements on a more casual basis and in their own time. However, on a larger scale, the piece is formed out of blocks of material that recapitulate, playing with the listener’s memory and recollection of previous material.
The Italian twentieth-century composer Aldo Clementi similarly engages with repetition, gradually distorting the perception of time by slowing the music down after each repetition. His 1977 composition for organ Sigla involves four melodic lines which are rhythmically displaced in canon by four and five crotchet beats. The performer is then instructed to play the music for as long as they desire, gradually slowing down over time, with a minimum duration of approximately 10-minutes. It may be speculated that the idea of a gradual decrease in tempo comes from the physicality of the piece. Due to the congestion of the player’s fingers on the keys, the player may experience a natural slowing down of tempo due to the decrease in stamina. His music follows the logical inner narrative of temporal experience; the further time passes across a piece of music, the more fluid our distinctions between our different levels of perceptions.
A semiological implication of repeating sounds come in the way that context alters our perception of that sound, individual to the listener. The painter Wassily Kandinsky says in his book The Art of Spiritual Harmony, “frequent repetition of a word deprives the word of its original external meaning…Sometimes perhaps we unconsciously hear this real harmony sounding together with the material and later with the non-material sense of the object.”  In psychology, semantic satiation is described as the phenomenon of words losing their meaning after repetition. Repetition for a phenomenologist raises the implication that the sound itself does not change, but the meaning does. It could be argued that this is due to a change in the context of the sound, something which is global to all listeners, or a change in approach and understanding the listener has to that sound. Either way, the music of composers such as Bryn Harrison suggests that the use of repetition and actively engaging with a phenomenological approach to compositional practice would indicate an acceptance of music meaning stemming from the inner experience of the listener rather than something inherent within the music.
There are times at which one may argue there is objectivity in the surprising elements of musical composition. As the American philosopher, Bruce Ellis Benson says, “an essential ingredient in having a genuine experience (Erfahrung) is the element of surprise: it is precisely when we do not expect something that it affects us the most.” However, the listener’s perception of what is fortuitous is still affected by their experience and character. Furthermore, these surprises are always characterised as ‘moments’ which is, in itself, problematic. The German philosopher Edmund Husserl talks about “immanent time” , noting “the intuiting of a time-point is possible only within a nexus” . From a phenomenological perspective, the experience of time passing is not only a subjective experience but unique to an individual, shaped by the person’s characteristics and eccentricities. David Clarke suggests that this is in part due to there being an ambiguity in momentary experience. He asks the question in the book Music and consciousness “how do we make a robust distinction between the moment of perception and the beginnings of memory?”  If a composer has an awareness of phenomenology, especially when investigating temporal implications of musical perception, it seems that on any level, time perception has an innate fluidity. Each listener’s levels of perception may differ within a piece of music. Furthermore, even if a listener is fully engaged with a particular element of the music at a point in time, the perception of that moment may not be distinct due to the obscurity between the experience of the present and recollection.
Benson, Bruce Ellis, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Card, James, ‘Descartes’ View of Sense Perception’, Jdcard, 1997, p. 1 <http://jdcard.com/descar.htm#fn0> [accessed 2 January 2020]
Clarke, David, ‘Music, Phenomenology, Time Consciousness’, in Music and Conciousness, ed. by Eric Clarke and David Clarke (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 8
Deacon, Terrence William, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain, 1st edn (New York City: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997)
Ferneyhough, Brian, ‘The Tactility of Time’, in Collected Writings, ed. by James Boros and Richard Toon (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Press, 1995), p. 43
Harrison, Bryn, Surface Forms (Repeating) (University of Huddersfield, 2009)
———, ‘Time, Memory and Recursive Structures’, Speculations in Sound, 2015, p. 1 <http://speculationsinsound.squarespace.com/bryn-harrison-1> [accessed 4 January 2020]
Husserl, Edmund, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, ed. by D Welton (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991)
Peirce, Charles Saunders, The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. by C Hartshorne and A Burks (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press)
Saunders, James, ‘Confined Spaces: A Short Profile of Bryn Harrison’, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 2008, p. 1 <http://www.brynharrison.com/writings.html> [accessed 4 January 2020]
Tarasti, Eero, Signs of Music: A Guide to Musical Semiotics (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2002)
Taruskin, Richard, A Myth of the Twentieth Century: The Rite of Spring, the Tradition of the New, and “The Music Itself”, 2nd edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
Figure 1 - Bars 53-56 of Surface forms (repeating)
 Richard Taruskin, A Myth of the Twentieth Century: The Rite of Spring, the Tradition of the New, and “The Music Itself”, 2nd edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995).
 Charles Saunders Peirce, The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. by C Hartshorne and A Burks (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
 Eero Tarasti, Signs of Music: A Guide to Musical Semiotics (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2002).
 Terrence William Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain, 1st edn (New York City: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997).
 James Card, ‘Descartes’ View of Sense Perception’, Jdcard, 1997, p. 1 <http://jdcard.com/descar.htm#fn0> [accessed 2 January 2020].
 Brian Ferneyhough, ‘The Tactility of Time’, in Collected Writings, ed. by James Boros and Richard Toon (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Press, 1995), p. 43.
 James Saunders, ‘Confined Spaces: A Short Profile of Bryn Harrison’, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 2008, p. 1 <http://www.brynharrison.com/writings.html> [accessed 4 January 2020].
 Bryn Harrison, ‘Time, Memory and Recursive Structures’, Speculations in Sound, 2015, p. 1 <http://speculationsinsound.squarespace.com/bryn-harrison-1> [accessed 4 January 2020].
 Bryn Harrison, Surface Forms (Repeating) (University of Huddersfield, 2009).
 Bruce Ellis Benson, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
 Edmund Husserl, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, ed. by D Welton (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991). p. 5.
 Husserl. p. 198
 David Clarke, ‘Music, Phenomenology, Time Consciousness’, in Music and Conciousness, ed. by Eric Clarke and David Clarke (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 8.