Towards an analytical framework for graphic scores, and a proposed typology

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2015) Towards an analytical framework for graphic scores, and a proposed typology. In: Putting the Graphic in Music – Notation, Analaysis & Performance, 30 November 2015, Senate House Library, University of London. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Graphic scores pose significant challenges for analysis, which is perhaps why systematic attempts to analyse – as opposed to simply describe – such notations are vanishingly rare. The weakest of weak work concepts means that the problem of locating the piece's musical identity is exacerbated far beyond this issue's extent in other music. Graphic scores are visually fixed, so analysing them as solely visual artefacts is conceptually straightforward. Yet music is understood as sound, and the musical sounds arising from graphic notations can be highly unpredictable. Nevertheless, performances of graphic pieces tend to share a distinct sonic identity. Where is this essential identity is to be located? And how is its nature to be discovered?

These are the primary questions faced by the graphic score analyst. In this paper I outline the challenges of, and rationale for, analysing graphic scores, addressing the question of ontology, and suggesting approaches to analysing the score itself, the sounding result, and the link between score and sound.

In the last section of the paper I introduce a typology of graphic score compositions, developing the pioneering work of Erhard Karkoschka (1966). Examples by Cage, Cardew and others from the classic period of graphic score composition – from the 1950s to the 1970s – are used to illustrate the typology, which can also be applied, however (like my suggested analytical methodologies) to more recent graphic score compositions. While sometimes considered of purely historical interest, graphic score composition has continued to flourish since its 60s heyday through both the impetus of specific performing groups and their radically democratising use in secondary music education.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 25905
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Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2019 12:10
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:21

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