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9.3 Graphic Score

Graphic scores are a way of composing a piece of music without using traditional clefs, notes, rhythms etc. For an entertaining example which demonstrates this composition technique, watch the video below.

Composition Task

You are going to compose a graphic score piece of about one minute in length, for a neighbour to perform to the rest of the class.

What to do

Start by finding out how your neighbour wishes to perform: are they going to play the keyboard, sing, play their instrument?

Then decide whether you want to produce your score on the computer, or whether you're going to draw it by hand.

Things to think about

Use examples we've looked at for help, but bear the following in mind:

  1. You don't have to make every sound completely precise - symbols can have a loose meaning if you want.
  2. Repeating ideas to give your piece a structure is usually a good idea. It helps to shape your performance.
  3. Start by thinking about pitch and rhythm, but don't forget other musical elements, such as dynamics (volume) and tempo (speed) etc.
  4. Think about what your neighbour is capable and happy to perform. The keyboards don't have to be just set on piano - be creative. You don't have to write for traditional instruments. Music is organised sound, and this doesn't necessarily mean a traditional instrument.

Don't over-think your ideas at first - just get a general plan together and see what happens!

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