What is the one feature that unmistakably distinguishes Eastern from Western music? The answer: the use of the metronome, or a standard of regularity of “tempo.”
Unlike in the West, musical composition in the East is often “asynchronous,” or without reference to a standard, objective measure of time. Instead, Eastern musicians performing as a group will use each other’s body movements as cues for the next note of a melody, or the next beat of a drum.
The comparison of Eastern and Western music is a fascinating discipline to explore.
Aside from timing and the methods used to regulate rhythm, there is much to say about the difference in purpose and societal function ascribed to musical performance in the East versus the West. But, alas, as always, the real world calls for my attention: onward!