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Symbols - Signs - Sounds

Conference paper
Authors Per Anders Nilsson
Published in Electroacoustic Winds 2017, Synchresis - Audio Vision Tales, University of Aveiro
Publication year 2017
Published at Academy of Music and Drama
Language en
Keywords experimental music, graphic score, improvisation, symbols, signs, sound
Subject categories Arts


In this talk Per Anders Nilsson will address questions about the relation between images, signs, and sounds. Interleaved with the talk examples of works and experiments in the area are showed and discussed. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote: “All that a symbol CAN express, it MAY express” meaning that, e.g. that the standard musical notation symbols is mereley a convention. Is is symbols that might be interpreted in many ways. Is there an obvious relation between symbols and signs on the one hand, and sounds on the other? I don’t think so. However, we humans tend to interpret higher up on the image equals higher pitch, and that bigger means louder. Cornelius Cardew’s seminal piece Treatise (1965-67) takes Wittgenstein’s remark as a as point of departure. The score consists of 196 pages of abstract graphics, and at the outset he gave no instructions or even clues of how to interpret and play the piece. One composer that is bounded to the invention of graphical scores is John Cage. One example is his Imaginary Landscapes no 5, were performers are asked to bring a number of favorite jazz records as sound sources. The score contains of a timeline with “channels” for each individual player, were presence of a thick line means “play”, whereas the absence means “be silent”. As Cage’s score was outlined on a paper, it allowed participant players to prepare upcoming actions in advance. What happens if we replace the score (on paper) with a real time video score that controls sounds and silences in the same manner, with the difference that information on next “open play window” is hidden. The Bucket System is an open structure of simple optical signs in the form of LEDs that either light, blink or are black. It is up to the participating musicians to make up rules what the given signs means in each particular performance. In this system, a player receives a new instruction where (s)he is forced to halt or change whatever going on, and since the participant musicians are interrupted all the time, no one will be able to develop things as usual.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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