How Graphic Scores Can Unleash Your Inner Musical Genius 

Source: The Guardian

When musical notation failed the great avant garde composers, they drew a picture instead. Now, a new project hopes everyone else will follow in their footsteps

Something had to give, and when composers like John Cage, Morton Feldman and Karlheinz Stockhausen began to look beyond traditional instrumentation and form – creating works that were no less eccentric, but fun – they found they had to create new systems for notation. Take John Cage’s Water Music from 1952. To perform it, a musician must pour water from one vessel to another, shuffle a pack of cards and switch stations on a radio, among other things. These actions are plotted pictorially, but precisely. Others, like British composer Cornelius Cardew, went in a different direction in the 1960s – writing scores made up of abstract, geometric designs open to wildly different interpretations, depending on who’s playing the piece.