Experimental music notation resources

Just had a great experience following along with So What, thanks for sharing that

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Wow I’m really glad I found this post. Great stuff!!

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Peter Vogel speaks of creating a score for one of his pieces in this video (21:48).

It seems like there’s this sort of underlying tension that might exist between an artist and the exhibitor. Some of the work in this thread has a slight undertone of artistic defiance.

On the topic of interpreting experimental music scores, I think it would be really interesting to pick the brains of the members of Sonic Youth about their experiences creating SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century. That album contains pieces from several of the composers that have been mentioned in this thread.

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thank you very much for sharing this video. i didn’t know peter vogel’s work. i find it very beautiful, and deep too. (i’m sorry i’ve missed it from the mechanical sound sculpture thread.)

what do you mean ? or : could you elaborate about this ?

I meant that, to me, it feels like some of these scores are intentionally difficult or impossible to understand/interpret. As if to say that even though you may hold in your hand a blueprint for this particular piece of art, you will never actually be able to recreate it. At best you would be producing a piece that is as close as you can get to the original but is actually an entirely new piece of work. Which I guess is really interesting in and of itself.

A copy of a copy of a…

I agree. Many of these scores are art in and of themselves, but they resist interpretation using conventional means. Is a score that has to be explained by the creator really a score in the conventional sense of the word? If you don’t have the creator explaining to you how the marks on the paper are to be played or interpreted, how is the score to be performed 200 years from now, if at all?

I’m working my way through this whole thread. Thanks so much for sharing all of these score excerpts! This post appears to be mislabeled. The top image is from Christian Wolff’s Burdocks. The bottom image seems to be a diagram from a particle physics paper.

The first image here is a Gordon Mumma score. I think on the Once festival box set it is performed by Ashley and Mumma.
Mumma has some more scores on his website.

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A couple others from around the web.

Monoskop has full scan of Notations

and on ubuweb An Anthology of Chance Operations


Thank you for your notes.
I would like to correct these attributions, but the editing functionality seems to be gone for older posts. @tehn is there some way I can have access to editing older posts?

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I’ll admit that I’m not a formally-trained musician apart from one Music Theory course in college. Growing up on rock and then experimental electronic, I never saw how a music score could possibly convey everything that I hear in my favorite music. There just isn’t enough information on the printed page.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a score is only a fraction of a human musical performance. Could we agree that a musical performance is worth at least a hundred traditional scores?

I like the idea of breaking from traditional music notation - particularly because it always seemed insufficient to me - and the pieces in this thread are works of art. However, it seems that they’re pretty much all hopeless at conveying what it should sound like to anyone who hasn’t already heard the piece of music. In other words, an even greater amount of information must be communicated before the notated piece can be performed. Folks have already mentioned this in the thread above, so I don’t think I’m saying anything new here.


Just came across videos of a conference on notation at Wesleyan University in 2013. The first roundtable is composers talking about their reasons for using alternative notation, the second roundtable is performers talking about interpretation of notation. I just watched the bit in part 3 where Ron Kuivila talks about alternative notation as a pedagogical tool that has the potential to generate a wider community of contemporary music practitioners/experiencers by inviting amateur performers into a particular composer or community’s musical investigations.


My alma mater / department of study. Learned from some of these folks. A beautiful place!


Aha, I guessed you were an alum when I saw those Braxton scores. When were you there? I was class of 02 and 07.

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12! I’m a baby (relatively speaking). Got the tail end of Braxton and Lucier, and at the very end the first look at the new music dept headed by Kuivila and Matthusen, who was brand new as I was leaving.

The second document is in fact a reaction track from a collider event in a particle physics experiment. However, given this community, that does not mean that it is not also musical notation for somebody. :slight_smile:

hi there! do you have a link to this artist/s? I can’t seem to find it on Google and I would very much appreciate any info about this piece. Thanks !

There’s an installation in the Boulder Public Library art gallery asking viewers to contribute to a graphic score that will be played by musicians at a future date. Artist is Nathan Hall, maybe he’s here? I walk through the library every few days, was excited to see this installation.


https://twitter.com/GraphicScoreBot is fun.

New graphic score every hour.


He’s a CU alum! I graduated from the comp department there in '10, and he started his masters shortly after I left.

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