• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"A notation should be directed to a large extent towards the people who read it, rather than towards the sounds they will make." (Cornelius Cardew, 1961) Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


"A notation should be directed to a large extent towards the people who read it, rather than towards the sounds they will make." (Cornelius Cardew, 1961) Discuss. The endeavours of some Experimentalist composers in the 1950s and 1960s, including Cornelius Cardew and John Cage (parenthetically, Cage's own quote, 'Let the notations refer to what is to be done, not what is to be heard'1 , has resonances with the title quote) were a purposeful reaction to the determinacy of the Serialists. However, the notions of integral serialism and indeterminacy shared common elements in some eyes: There is really no basic difference between the results of automatism and the products of chance; total determinacy comes to be identical with total indeterminacy....2 The way a piece is notated allows us to come closer to understanding 'the musical culture within which [notations] operate, and of the ways in which our modes of thought are influenced by the nature of the systems we use'3. This relates to the societal view that the composer is the one who has something to say, reducing the status of the performer to that of interpreter. However, this is not a view that has always existed; composers such as Mozart and Beethoven often expected performers of their works (including themselves, to which I shall return) ...read more.


Transcribing one's ideas in such a manner as to enable the performer to comprehend your directives, and even involve the player in decision-making, is a performance-perspective oriented view, having the added benefit of lending greater objectivity to the compositional task. '...A paradigm that grew up in the early twentieth century...saw the composer as some kind of absolute genius capable of imagining a perfect performance of a piece'9 The 'tendency towards greater explicitness'10, which this comment infers, is part of a paradigm of composition far removed from the way composition was historically defined. Yet, the morphology of every new notation, and the consequential absence of a 'norm of common notational practice', meant that immediate recognition of a composer's intentions became impracticable.11 One underlying issue to be addressed in greater depth is that of the relationship between composer and performer. Hugo Cole states that 'notation evolved to meet felt but inarticulate needs'12 When new methods of notation are devised in response to the need to articulate a newly developed style of composition, composers move the hypothetical goalposts further away again from the performer, as they have to once again learn the new language, interpret again the new signs and work out what the piece (or the composer) ...read more.


we have seen, 'simple' notation does not necessarily equal many possible interpretations, and on the same line, an elaborate notation such as Cardew's can permit varied interpretation. The psychological impact of how the music looks on the page invites varied readings; the printed page is a storage medium where an inevitably incomplete representation of 'notateable' ideas can be retained for the future. The fact that this aspect of the work does not change over time, like a painting or a book, does not mean that the piece will not change and evolve. Art's ability to carry societal properties, to evolve and reflect changing times is surely part of its value. The search for greater notational control led to greater complexity, yet the early influence of the possibilities of electronic music must have contributed to this pursuit. Peter Zinofieff spoke of an early ideal, satisfied by electronic composition, where 'we can each have our own private language specially tailored for our own machines and individual needs or frustrations' 21 Ultimately, though, the performer's job is 'to make the relationships and patterns in the music clear to the listener's mind and ear'22. This hope, though, displaces the enduring problems which lie between composers and those who are employed to realise the work, be they human or otherwise. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Music section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Music essays

  1. The kitchen, a 'realist text' is written by Arnold Wesker, a 'naturalistic writer'.

    Most of what we see in terms of a story is where Monique and Peter are flirting or arguing. The rest of the plot seems to consist of work related talk. Whilst the exchange goes on we were keen to make sure the rest of the kitchen continued work as normal.

  2. Beethoven and his influence on Schubert

    of the development section in the finale, have similarities with the bars 51-55 of the first movement from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2. Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio have some parallel passages with Schubert's B-flat Sonata, namely the opening of B-flat Sonata, the theme of the first movement.

  1. Mimesis - Is music an imitative art?

    We can identify what is being expressed through the signs we hear, since our senses are able to translate this universal language into our own and also into our very own and personal language of feelings, which is different and essentially unique to each one of us.

  2. Discuss ways in which the first movement of Beethoven's Third Symphony 'Eroica' is revolutionary

    The instrumentation for the two symphonies is the same, but they are used in different manners. The First symphony tends to have the strings as the leading part of the orchestra, at times, for example bars 78 - 81, consist of strings and oboe only.

  1. To what extent can The Rite's innovations be boiled down to rhythm alone?

    Rite is composed of independent blocks, grouped together to form motifs, and that any harmonic progression can only occur between blocks. Van den Toorn then identifies two rhythmic types: the former characterised by an irregular metre and groups of blocks which 'alternate with one another in constant and rapid juxtaposition';

  2. To what extent did the composers of symphonies in the Soviet Unionmanage to comply ...

    highlighting crucial events and a general background to the process of enforcing socialist realism in music. The battles fought by Shostakovich and Prokofiev for the right to compose freely are well documented. Whilst their integrity was repeatedly compromised by Stalin and the dogma of Socialist Realism, and their personal lives

  1. Defining music is as difficult as defining art.

    western historical musicology, which is mainly concerned with analyzing "works", that is music in its abstract form as written down in a score or other mode of notation. The languages of many cultures do not include a word for or that would be translated as "music".

  2. The Haas Effect - Echoes and Location

    It has a feel for the different values in a primitive lookup table which explains why a person instantly knows where a sound came from, they do not hear it and then work out where from. Experiments into shared source pulses arriving with delay.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work