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, Spring 2017! Students who had been studying graphic scores with artist Lindsay Dobbin came to Open Studio prepared to give my graphic score a whirl...
When I selected instruments for the Open Studio, I decided to select ones that I thought people would pick up and try 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 - like a conversation between people - sometimes you speak slowly, other times more quickly, and you may even step onto another person's sentence.
There are five parts: each part represented the flight path of a bird, and was a different colour. The flight paths wrap around the sides of the paintings, indicating where the conversation could lead next. The background represents atmosphere – in the same way that we interpret the expression on someone’s face, the background of each panel is indicative of emotional tone.
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 people. 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. I may experiment with providing a lexicon of sounds for the vocalizations.
An expanded durational version for in Berlin in 2020.
it was like a conversation between people - sometimes you 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