Local Time

(selected for performance at the June in Buffalo festival)

In the decade preceding the 1905 publication of Albert Einstein’s paper on special relativity, the Dutch Physicist Hendrik Lorentz developed what came to be known as Lorentz Ether Theory (LET).  LET suggested a separation between matter and “ether,” the medium through which electromagnetic and gravitational forces were thought to propagate, and relied on the concept of “local time,” defined as t’ = t – vx/c2, where t’ and t refer to the time coordinates of an observer at rest and those of an observer in motion, respectively.  By differentiating between the time experience of different observers, Lorentz defined time as a relative (rather than absolute) measure, contradicting the notion of absolute simultaneity and paving the way for the development of special relativity.  Henri Poincaré, a contemporary of Lorentz who further developed his theories, called local time Lorentz’s “most ingenious idea.”

Local Time approaches this concept from a musical standpoint, investigating the relativity of simultaneity and the inconstancy of velocity, duration, and the very experience of time.

”We have not a direct intuition of simultaneity, nor of the equality of two durations. If we think we have this intuition, this is an illusion.” – Henri Poincaré, The Measure of Time, 1898

Local Time was written for the Talea Ensemble and premiered in New York City in February 2014.