Reflexions on Notating " -New Music" -

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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Reflexions on Notating " -New Music" -

Post by bergmann » Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:34 pm

Next week I'm going to meet a young composer, who has written an interesting piece of contemporary music. You can hear it performed by the Danish guitarist Jacob Bangsø following this link: ... -less-more

I’m starting to engrave a new exciting piece, which uses a lot of alternative notation. The composer and I are going to meet next week. As preparation, I have read a little about how to notate new music, and I have looked at solutions from others. I made me think about how it should be done to make it readable and interesting for other musicians. Below follows the approach I will suggest:

Music consists of different layers. The first five describes the music:
1. Time – or rhythm. The most important of them all.
2. Pitch (or the sound of pitch) – next most important.
3. Tone (or the tone of the pitch, timbre, color, etc.) –
4. Dynamics
5. Expression
(In some music 3, 4, and 5, can be omitted, combined or have a different order)

Then there is a sixth layer, which do not describe the music, but how you technically can produce the sound described in the other five layers:
6. Technique

The sequence of layers also describes how you should learn a new piece. You should master time and pitch before you master the tone, and so on.

It also describes how trained musicians read scores prima vista: When things become difficult, they hang on with time and pitch but drops the other layers.

And it describes how engravers and composers can help the performer to read the music:
1. Make the rhythm and the general timeline as easily recognizable as possible. I say recognize, which means that we use existing, proved ways to write the timeline whenever possible.
2. For pitch goes the same rules as for rhythms – keep it a simple and as recognizable as possible.
3. The tone of a particular instrument can often be described in well-known terms – use those. Only introduce new ones when necessary. And use the terms rather than peculiar noteheads.
4. There is a well-proven and covering system to write the layer of dynamic – it is very seldom you need to tweak that.
5. There are many terms to describe expressions, and the great thing about using those terms is that it gives the musician room for interpretation.

Try to think this way: If you remove layer 3-5 – is the music still readable and understandable. If you can answer yes to that, musicians will probably feel comfortable with you score.

The last layer – Technique – are the one that messes up much modern music. Sometimes the scores are one long description of different techniques. It is a pity because it changes the focus from music to technique. Whenever possible the technique should be handled as what it mostly are – a layer in the bottom of a priority list!

(This is copy/pasted from my blog:) ... ary-music/

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