Writing it down

There is no need to write down music. Most of the world’s musical traditions are passed on by ear and have never been written down. But notation in some form can:

  • Provide an ideal solution to remembering music from one session to the next.
  • Provide documentation of either individual or group work.
  • Help in the planning out of a piece of music that you are making up.
  • Give a link between music and the visual arts.
  • Help in teaching children to read and write.

Graphic scores

There are several ways to use the different styles of graphic score:

  • You can prepare scores for pupils to interpret. This is often best in the early stages.
  • An individual pupil can prepare a score for a group to interpret. This helps develop a sense of structure and compositional skills.
  • Groups can prepare scores and exchange them, interpreting each others’ work.

Here are three types of graphic score. You may find one particular type fits your needs or you may want to design your own type of score that gives the information which you require.

Graphic score 1

Graphic score 1

Divide a large piece of paper into four sections and draw a motif in each. Make sure the motifs are as contrasted as possible.

The score works with someone to point at the sections.

While they are touching a section, a corresponding sound is played. You may want to fix these sounds in advance or leave it to improvisation and fix them later on. Perhaps you will allocate particular instruments to particular sounds.

Graphic score 2

Graphic score 2This score is best used to control one musical element, most obviously volume. The thicker the line, the louder the sound.

Graphic score 3

Graphic score 3This score is very similar score in 1, but it gives the opportunity to arrange the musical elements in the form of a composition. Any range of elements can be used.

Making your own notation

Devising more specific ways for writing down music can be enormously productive. You may or may not be able to read music yourself. It doesn’t matter. The vital thing is to work out how to show the following:

  • Which instrument or voice is playing?
  • When do they start and stop?
  • How high or low are they (ie. pitch)?
  • How long or short (ie. duration)?
  • How fast or slow (ie. speed)?
  • How loud or soft? (ie. volume)
  • How does everyone fit together?

Here are photos of a couple of scores quickly created on one of our staff training courses. They were made on paper from a flip-chart pad.

sample score 1

sample score 2

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