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Interestng article I found.


Morivou
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Ok, no. This guys is one of those artsy-fartsies that most performers hate. Music notation is a standardized lexicon of instructions for performing a piece of music. That's it. It is not a painting to be hung up in the Met. The "art" is in the *sound* of the music, not its gimmicky notion of how its presented on the page. I absolutely agree with DeSantis' "manifesto" for simple notation. "Eye music" is absolutely ridiculous to me. If that were presented to be as a performer or conductor, I would shove it back in the composer's face and say "you've GOT to be joking!" or "give me a normal one" if I particularly like the guy.

I suppose this sentiment comes from be growing up in the large ensemble world where rehearsal time is precious. My scores, no matter their forces, are optimized for the most efficient communication of information. This often means I have to remove unstandardized notations because of this, but I know it is for the good of the performers and quality of performance.

DeSantis' manifesto should be read by every composition student ever. The only thing I would disagree with him is that "Notation is not art." Now, I may be thinking of it being art in a different form than he is but I've always had the notion that the process of notating a work is an art form. I mean that figuring out how to get exactly what you want in the simplest and cleanest way very much requires a bit of artistic creativity in order for notation to be useful to the performer. Sometimes it may require some juggling of notation elements to get what you want. It is rarely scientific in these cases and will be subject to the tastes and whims of the notator.

But let it be known, that there are correct and incorrect uses of notation. That circle piece by the writer could have been very simply written as a single line with a repeat barline. But this isn't "artistic." I say its sensible, devoid of any stupid notions that the audience (who really matters anyway) cares.

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Fascinating article, thank you for sharing!

I have several minor contributions to make to the conversation. I personally find some of the art scores discussed to be pretty ridiculous, but I accept his argument that they're differently functional (and not as a euphemism for retarded), and I would argue that Justin's denunciation of them entirely is perhaps a bit hasty in light of the fact that most of those scores are not intended for the kind of performance situations that he's used to. So while the traditional large ensemble world would find it a useless headache, any modern music ensemble (large or small scale) would find it normal and may even, with a good conductor, have a great time puzzling through the weird directions. And we have to remember that, however misguided we feel it may be, that uncertainty was intentional on the part of the composer. Introduce a little anarchy, right? I have no problem with that.

I live in the world of media scoring, where rehearsal time for orchestras is zero and therefore scores need to be stupidly clear (no Italian bullshit, just straight up "do this" style instructions that can be grasped at a glance). The funny this is that several film score situations have made use of non-standard notation to describe invented techniques or to make use of aleatoric effects. In those cases, the markings are always explained conceptually, but it's still essentially nonsense notation. Seems to work out fine.

On a parting note, I believe that a properly engraved piece of music is among the most beautiful things in the world, which is part of the reason I spend entirely too much time on engraving things on the few occasions I'm called to do so. Takes me forever because I'm bloody meticulous about getting it all perfect and beautiful. But then I also stop in the street to admire tasty typography so maybe it's just a disease or something.

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On a parting note, I believe that a properly engraved piece of music is among the most beautiful things in the world, which is part of the reason I spend entirely too much time on engraving things on the few occasions I'm called to do so. Takes me forever because I'm bloody meticulous about getting it all perfect and beautiful. But then I also stop in the street to admire tasty typography so maybe it's just a disease or something.

I'm with you there, although "properly" is rather subjective. I spend a ton of time on engraving, probably more time than writing the music. Yes, I want to get the music across as clearly as possible and I consider a score a set of instructions, but I also consider engraving to be a huge part of the musical craft of composition. Not every composer needs notation, but when it's there I most definitely think of it as art, so I have to disagree with DeSantis. Is typography art/craft? You better believe it.

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My two cents;

As far as music that actually uses distinct tones, there is no reason to use anything other than standard notation. If you want to create whale music (no offense to anyone who does, haha), go ahead and use graphic notation.

I've heard a lot of people talk about the flaws of standard notation, (within the realm of distinct tones, I assume) but they never exactly say how it is flawed. Can anyone illuminate this for me?

I guess maybe Schillinger's point with his graph notation was to remove the confusion of enharmonic notes, but that isn't really a problem with standard notation, but a built in feature. Our notation wasn't conceived under equal temperament.

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For everything there is a season?

I dunno. I think the heart-shape is cute, and a great way to show the music off. Somehow, though, I don't think that score would be used like a piece of sheet music. As for something like Crumb, I always felt that part of the point was to obscure and to make stuff more difficult.

Whatevs. I've done it. I've not done it. I liked using non-standard notation for the Controlled Noise pieces. I liked using regular notation for the Piece for Western Gamelan. Made sense to me in both cases.

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