DIMC 2000, Rudme, Denmark. Discussion on conference theme "notations"

Present were: Kumi Wakao (JAPAN), Anne Steen (DK), Hans Schüttler (D), Karin Schou (DK), Lene Ravn (DK), Henrik Rasmussen (DK), Rufat Khalilov (Aserbaijan), Helene Jerg (DK), Bent Jensen (DK), Frank Hiesler (D), David Golightly (USA), Tytte Buus (DK), Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen (DK). - Participants have different backgrounds such as professional musician, improvisor, composer, music therapist, visual artist (Tytte).


Carl (acting as a moderator): What can notation do?

Karin: give some structure

David: following the experience of earlier today, it seems that notated form will give a focus to a piece, cause performers to do something different from when improvising freely

Anne: notation causes another way of perceiving - more physical, concrete

Tytte: one can share it with someone else

Karin: when we did the improvisation from Lene's composition I felt more mentally involved, somewhat less intuitively

Tytte: working from a notation can be difficult

Carl: did anyone have especially strong experiences with notations?

Helene: once I was playing from a picture I got really chocked by what a fellow player did - because we were playing from a picture.

David: I understand that

Karin: at one situation at an exam there was a solely verbal notation which was complicated, that was frustrating. There is a balancing to be made between simplicity/complexity.

Carl: sounds like several people had overload experiences!

Karin: I like to have only very few rules

Hans: some composers make free pieces and yet expects them to be played exactly as they thought. A good free notation must be a very good picture and it must have some order, showing what I can do and must do.

David: maybe composers like to be surprised

Tytte: it's the same thing with abstract paintings - I can control what's on the canvas, NOT what you see. Else I should make a horse or a house etc. It is a silly idea to control something which is not absolute

Lene: are we realising the composers' idea or are we given a gift as musicians

David: you have to be willing not to be too possesive

Hans: professional musicians hate graphic notations. I try to mix it with other kinds so that it may function for them

Tytte: don't they get upset because they're lazy - should not the composer change musicians? It's too easy for them, they want not to invest themselves

David: it's like working in a factory

Carl: I admire those other kind of compositions which are beautyful and new and advanced structures to play and transcend the big limitations of the old notation. Like "Schwingung" ("Oscillation"), a text piece by Stockhausen which is really difficult and a breathtaking experience. Or the music of Christian Wolff which notates reactions, not just this sound, next sound etc.

Frank: I don't like the split between those musicians who improvise and those who do not

Hans: I've seen many bad graphic notations. Is it possible to find new universal signs?

Carl: I don't believe in one system

Helene: often the composer wants the music played in one way, and it takes a lot of time

Carl: so written-out music seems to be highly ineffective!

Henrik: I think musicians do not only reproduce whar they read - they use the small microcosmic ways to make it their own

Lene: a good graphic notation should belong to the musician and feed the imagination

Anne: it becomes a means to explore the instrument

Frank: graphic notations have the aim not to play the piece but to live with the piece

Anne: I wonder whether it's the notation itself or the music coming out of it which make the musicians so frustrated

Carl: they can have a double frustration because they cannot use what they are educated to do

Tytte: graphic notation gives the musician a chance to be active and you can see it as a gift

Frank: you have to

Anne: it's a contradiction to play music you don't like

Henrik: it depends on how

Carl: aren't we being a bit defensive?

David: notation does not have to be an enemy of free improvisation. Graphic notation is a very specific sort. It allows you to do things by keeping you from doing that which is not relevant

Carl: seems to me notation should be a means to make discoveries. The rest might be a communication problem. I'm so much against those widespread textbooks which presents an encyclopedia of additions to traditional notation in a parasitic way without respecting contexts. They try to deny that history is an ever ongoing process that ever develops and so should notation, they try to erase history

Tytte: I think sorrow and joy will communicate even when the notation systems are different. In this way there will be an universality across systems. - Everything becomes normal during time. In 100 years people will wonder why we spent a lot of time discussing this

Hans: music is regarded as more conservative than visual art

David: there's still something exciting about Beethoven's Heroic Symphony and Strawinsky's The Rite of Spring

Henrik: we have a very important mission, we should not expect thousands of people

Lene: we have no mission

Anne: it's still fantastic so many people came to hear us in the old church

Bent: there is a big difference between composing and collective improvisation. The development in our society is towards teamwork, not one man's work. Team-composing could develop


(Resume by Carl)

Some graphic compositions and a painting from DIMC 2000

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