Much music is written down in musical notation. And musical notation, just like any other writing, is a set of agreements about how we notate music in such a way that you or someone else can perform it in the same way. A graphic score is a variant that serves the same purpose, but without the fixed agreements of the traditional notation. This free notation method can be applied for and by children at every level, from very simple to complicated.
A simple score with colored boxes or dots already helps to write down rhythm and pitch. This can be used, for example, in combination with color-coded instruments such as the Orgelkids Flute Box, the MeloPipes or the Boomwackers.
An example of a complex graphic score is the piece Treatise by Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). He wrote it between 1963 and 1967, consisting of 193 pages with symbols, abstract shapes, numbers and figures. He came up with his own music notation and gave no instructions for the performance. In the accompanying manual he wrote that the performer may develop and write down his/her own rules for the interpretation of the symbols. The score itself looks like a visual work of art. (At the right: two sample pages from Cardews Treatise.)
Below an interpretation of the piece.
Not only work that is intended as musical notation is suitable, other visual arts (such as abstract graphic works) are also suitable for a musical interpretation. For example, take a look at work by Kandinsky and other Bauhaus artists. Children can create free graphic notations themselves at all ages. They can make (abstract) drawings, which can be converted by the organist into real music.
W. Kandinsky, Thirty (1937)
Activities with graphic scores can be elaborated in different lessons or in a coherent series, for example in a one week project. It serves different purposes:
The order of activities is free. For example, first look at art and graphic notation forms and then let children draw themselves. But the other way around is also possible.
This topic is suitable for a longer series of lessons. Or for an intensive short period, for example during a one week project.