This week, I wanted to plan a piece of music I’m writing for my Dreams project. Now, I’m inexperienced (although not ignorant of) traditional music notation as I have always found it a little irrelevant to my needs and ideas. Of course, there’s no denying that it orders things nicely and brings about ideas just by it’s use but when you have an audio scratch-pad like Logic Pro, it’s not the best way to create. So basically, I create and organise using the sounds themselves and the computer visuals (as well as my mind of course). This week, I had various jobs to do so I thought I’d see if my efficiency in making music could be improved by making a more detailed plan than usual.
As I have written about before, my current interests include drawing sound from abstract ideas and creating atmosphere. I have been using a main theme and using descriptive words to describe that theme in the context I want to write about. I then translate these descriptive ideas and words into sound (through the filter of my own perception of course). Notes aren’t important so much as I rely on my playing instincts to provide those, although theory is used when layering and directing the textures.
So, what is a graphical score? Basically, traditional notation is a visual cue and organiser of music. Somewhere along the line, someone thought ‘why don’t we use any picture or symbol to elicit a feeling, note, series of notes, sound etc.’ As a graphical score also deals with atmosphere in an abstract way it seemed very relevant and natural to put my plan down on paper in this way. I had seen a couple graphic scores before although they weren’t accompanied by explanation, but in any case the great thing about them is they are pretty self-explanatory, meaning I felt comfortable trying my own. Just giving it a go also follows part of my ‘ethos’ where you should never be afraid to try something if it is doing it’s intended job.
The piece I worked on this week is called ‘Flying’ and is in the context of a dream (thought I’d start with something pretty obvious to make it easier on myself!). I started by making a list of ideas surrounding the theme. Usually I would go straight to designing the sounds for each theme and sort out the structure once I have those but this time I chose a symbol for each sound and created a structure and map of them interacting over time. This produced the graphical score below:
The next step will be to create sounds for each symbol/symbol section and start weaving them together!
A great thing about a graphical score is that some one else could also use it in their music, or anything else for that matter, allowing for individual creativity within the guideline of the score; making the work so much more than it could be otherwise. This is because, theoretically, it’s full realisation may never happen until every person on the planet has added their perception of it i.e. when there are still options open it remains unfinished. It therefore follows that one idea or score could (potentially) be absolutely huge with an incredible amount of depth after many many influences have contributed to it. You could say this about any score of course, but here the guidelines are far looser than the traditional score and it follows the results would be more varied and richer as a result.
I haven’t yet worked on the music for this score but am very much looking forward to it. It feels very natural and comfortable so I have a feeling the results will be better than usual…. Hopefully I wont be eating my words…
Search the internet for graphical scores. Some of them are normal-looking photographs while others use parts of traditional notation, but they are all designed to the same end: the production of sound derived from abstract thought; or music, if you like…