What's in a Song? Between the Song and the Silence: Graphic Score
Images and video thanks to Emma Campbell, the Banff Centre
Open Studio at Banff! I had students who had been studying graphic scores with artist Lindsay Dobbin come to Open Studio prepared to give my graphic score a whirl...
When I had gone to select instruments for the Open Studio, I decided to select instruments that I thought would encourage people to pick them up and try them out. Naturally, a Flex-a-tone had to be one of the instruments, along with a ratchet, some jingle-bells, two small singing bowls, and a set of small rattles.
The dynamic graphic score consists of 23 small paintings which can be configured to suggest conversation – a structured improvisational piece for musicians. The individual panels may even be moved around as the piece is played, much like tangential discussions.
I explained that each panel was a phrase. it was like a conversation between people - sometimes you may speak slowly, other times more quickly, and you may even step onto another person's sentence.
There were five parts: each colour represented the flight path of a bird. The background represented atmosphere – in the same way that we may interpret the expression on someone’s face, so too was the background of each panel indicative of the emotional tone. The flight paths wrapped around the sides of the paintings, indicating where the conversation could lead next.
I listened to the students as they worked out how they were going to proceed. They were excited by the idea that it could never be played the same way twice… that they would be making, as one of them put it, a work that was “one of a kind”!
I have been interested in how different people have approached the work: a couple of composers had a gander at it, and one played part of it at an experimental music symposium. They expressed to me that the piece felt like a conversation, that it had the tangents and rhythm of a talk “between friends”. I found that aspect of it to be most interesting - no one, yet, has intimated that there is anything aggressive in its tone. Like conversation, one may have a phrase which is more passionately declared than another.
There is a concert pianist who would like to try to play the score as well, and I look forward to that instrumental interpretation.
For Berlin, there will be two vocalists and three musicians. They will also be provided with a lexicon of sounds for vocalization, which I will also be posting here shortly.
It will be presented and performed at the TENOR International Conference on Technologies for Music Notation and Representation in Montréal, Québec in May 2018.
An expanded durational version for a symphony orchestra will be performed at a festival/conference on art, science, and the environment in Berlin in 2019.
it was like a conversation between people - sometimes you may speak slowly, other times more quickly, and you may even step onto another person's sentence. ...
Between the Song and the Silence : Graphic Score Installation views
Photos Rita Taylor, the Banff Centre