The list will be updated as I update my bibliography in Zotero.
Alden suggests that Brown's early study in medieval music may have influenced his notational process for his work in the 1950s. Brown's focus was on multiple readings of a work, and bringing in the influence of the performer - in essence Brown is translating the medieval practice of musicians using idiomatic devices to expand upon a given musical setting (and in this view I think I am settled - a tonary can be seen as a collection of transcribed idiomatic devices) into musicians using their own improvisational practices to expand upon a minimal set of directives within his score.
Apel surveys diastematic notation from the ninth and tenth centuries (p. 9). This was a revelation as this is essentially the system that I use to write music. The information on neumes is also relevant - these markings were used to control the melodic line. In a freer sense I can use this, but relating my symbols to ones that exists in the International Phonetic Alphabet, or similar symbols. Although I am writing the music by hand currently, it would increase adoption if they can be rendered in type.
Apel's examples of early notation would certainly be called "graphic" in a contemporary context - thinking about Coussemaker's rendering of Dasian notation (p. 207), even though it may not have been used in the context of performance (I read an entry on Wikipedia and it referred to William Hoppin's book: although I am unsure how anyone could know that it was never used).
The diverse range of notations in the medieval period would seem to reject Sauer's notion of the 1950s being the "age of the self-invented score". Perhaps a truer interpretation would be that the 1950s allowed composers to express their ideas using a visual language related to the music, but not specifically functional to it.
In Wulf Arlt's contribution, The 'reconstruction' of instrumental music (p.75) he discusses the modern interpretation of instrumental music notation from the middle ages and introduces ways of thinking about unwritten musical practice. He then goes on to analyze two pieces of the period. Arlt's model for confronting unwritten practice (Model B, p.80) has implications on thinking about modern improvised music, specifically jazz: if we consider that there is a largely idiomatic practice in modern jazz - even though it is documented and taught - then we can analyze jazz performance in terms of what is purely improvised and what is unwritten but common practice - what is idiomatic. Examining the tension between the idiomatic and improvised within modern "improvised" music could be a good indicator for critiquing modern music performance, which I can use for assessing the "success" of my work.
Berger stops short of talking about collective spontaneous composition, but her idea of "creating polyphonic structures in the mind", utilizing idioms learned and stored in the memory is in fact exactly that, or at least a part of it. If it's the case that medieval polyphony was performed from remembering common devices for a given text, then collaborative "compositions" would be an essential part of medieval music.
In simple terms, the model for performing in this way would be to have a melody that everyone learns thoroughly; then in performance, one of the ensemble creates a line derived from the original melody, using a common set of musical rules. Everyone is singing from the same sheet: there are no separate "parts", and all the information for extemporization/improvisation is contained with the melody itself. This is the main framework for new dark art.
Writing does not preclude memory or oral/visual transmission of information (Ch.2). The format of medieval learning was aided by writing, even though information was still passed on by hearing. Illustrations in this sense should not be seen as pictures - they were meant to be read and comprehended as we would words, to be recalled by the mind later. A key to the memorization was the page layout, and numerous examples of situations (we see this in Micrologus and other treatises on music). The examples were expected to be memorized. Thinking about the trivium (Seay, p. 9) this would have similarities to how grammar was taught.
In a larger section about the transmission of polyphony in the Notre-Dame school (Ch. 5), Berger makes clear arguments for the co-existence of oral and written transmission. What was written was to give a general outline of an already-composed piece, and it would be written in a way to trigger the memory: it wouldn't be a full representation of the piece. Through the use of rhythmic modal patterns, the performer would better remember how the discant sections of a piece sounded.
Notre-Dame was dark (environment, p. 48). Although I've been thinking about ambiguity, I've been imposing my prejudices [I don't understand notation fully]. Much like my letter notation, there is a chance that the various notation systems of the Medieval period were exact and fit for the purpose of the time.
The tonary (55+) categorised chant and provided formulae for singers to memorize chant. They can be seen as a collection of transcribed idiomatic devices This is no different from Parker and Gillespie's "exercise books"; or Braxton's "Tri-Axium Writings". In part, the notebooks in which I work out my ideas for harmony and melodies are a form of tonary for myself, but as they span several books they are disparate. So my main task is to write a tonary for new dark art that clearly expresses these ideas. The Harmonic Descriptive Style Guide could form part of this treatise.
Earle Brown argues that the contemporary approaches to "new" notation have analogues to methods and ideas before 1600, and that new notation has to have some measure of representing that which cannot be done using standard notation, or at least releases the performer from a usual practice. This had to have a connection to reflect a sense of the contemporary - to "express our time".
In collections of notations by Young, Cage and Sauer, several examples of non-standard notation are given. To a lesser or greater extent, they all rely on the performer to make choices about how the interpretation of the notation. This can be framed in terms of ambiguity, and indeed Brown does exactly this is his article; but looking at Four Systems, he appears to aiming for more clarity from the notation in order to allow the performer to make a musical choice. Taking Brown's December 1952, the score is meant to be read in any direction. Alden relates this to Machaut's ma fin est ma commencement, a 13th century rondeau that can be performed in retrograde. Both notations have clear instructions to the performer about the work: the lines in December 1952 are no less clear than Machaut's notation. Brown stated that he was applying his compositional control to the process rather than the content.
Earle Brown stated that he was applying his compositional control to the process rather than the content. For new dark art, it's split between the aleatory and controlled in both form and content.
Cage's collection of modern graphic notation. This spurred me on to think about earlier collections of notations, notably the Chantilly and Modena codices from the middle to late 14th Century.
Cole sets why some things in notation fall by the wayside and how Western notation hasn't changed over centuries. It gives sense of perspective in terms of what information I want to convey using notation.
In "Contrafacts in Jazz" I presented a partially theoretical idea that centuries of music listening has trained the human ear to "assume" certain harmonic and melodic movements, and showed how I had used this idea in my piece "contrafact #1". Guido D'Arezzo hints at this idea (Ch. 11).
In thinking about emotional form, this study provides an evidence-based graph of emotions or affects which I can use for my tonary.
Using the I-PANAS-SF, I can develop a cross-cultural affective mode.
After reading Radano, I decided to follow up on Braxton's work to see if I was treading on similar ground, and also to gain insight into the ways he directs ensembles in his work. Braxton has successfully created a world and terminology for himself which pulls in a wide range of sources. His various notational systems are highly organised and associative (they relate to the musics from Braxton's past) and his arrangement of those parts is fluid with different lines and structures moving freely between the members of the ensemble. This bears some resemblance to my trio, except our music is composed spontaneously – so the pre-arrangement is idiomatic in our case.
Braxton's "Tri-Axium Writings" describe his systems and thoughts on music on practical and philosophical levels. This have analogues with the many treatises and tonaries from the medieval period (although it does not seem that Braxton is influenced by that period), although whether it's expected to memorize Braxton's systems depends more on the piece in front of the performer than a general condition.
Mayer Brown sets out the case for improvisation in the music of the era. This was done through ornamentation and diminution of melodic lines. There is a survey on the use and construction of passagi by Ganassi, Ortiz, Bovicelli and Conforto, who all wrote methods on the subject. Although the focus of the book is outside the time period of my study, this book has been useful in having a point to start.
The idea of these composers writing methods has a related idea in jazz: when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were working on a new form of music known as bebop, they formulated approaches systematically and studiously: the pianist Earl Hines commented in an interview with the broadcaster Charles Fox that the alto saxophonist and trumpeter used to share ideas they had written in exercise books: ornamentations, melodic approaches, things heard to be used later or never.
I am wondering if such a thing existed in earlier music: if so, then by examining my own processes of extemporisation, I may be able to create a similar "method book", which I can then translate into conducting directions or notation.
There are several examples of ars nova notation, and some from the ars subtilior period; this will help in my reading the Chantilly Codex. There are also plates of diastematic notation (writing letters organised in blank space rather than notes on a stave), which is something I have always done, but did not know I did. Through the book, I am able to find many resonances with my work to date as well as areas I had not considered.
In its plainest form letter notation removes a sense of vertical direction from the music; a writer has to annotate the letter to show register. This has an aesthetic appeal to me: a musician can choose to "explode" a line across as many octaves as they wish, or stay within a particular register. As long as a musician is literate, there is less to decipher than with other signs.
Also included is a table of neumes from different periods, with which I have started to experiment in a couple of sketches. The sketches need refining, but compositionally I was able to create a piece that can be varied in many ways, yet retains its melodic form. When I attempted to play the same composition as a tenor or discantus on the piano it was really effective.
Braxton is not a major influence on my work. My first encounter with Braxton's music was in pianist/composer Alexander Hawkins' group. However, as a contemporary composer it would be foolish to ignore the scope and breadth of his work; his use of graphic forms and holistic artistic sense.
In using this program/parser it became clear that I needed to not use an older representation. The idea behind new dark art is to learn from medieval ways of using and suggesting improvisation through transmission; not to copy those methods exactly. The syntax had a pretty steep learning curve, but has its roots in medieval didactic letter notation (the syntax is called GUIDO). After entering the syntax, the text file is parsed by Gregorio, which renders a TeX file; then the TeX file is converted into a PDF.
The main issue was that the program is specifically design to display plainchant scores. This is not quite the same as displaying medieval notation, which (as explained earlier) is diverse. Although I could achieve staffless notation, it was more difficult to set the layout of the neumes as desired: so I chose to not use this program to notate the music.
A modern collection of notations. I went to hear a selection of the pieces from this collection in Manchester. Without context, it was sometimes difficult to hear the connection between the score (which was projected on a screen behind the musicians) and the performance itself; some of the pieces could have been rendered by total improvisation without the score, and the musicians there were all highly capable of doing exactly that. This concert set me thinking about ambiguity and clarity in notation.
This book gives a handy summary of development throughout the period of interest. First, the notion of contrafactum which is forming the backbone of a shorter essay on jazz contrafacts, their evolution, and whether jazz musicians write them any more. Then there's a whole section on the Notre-Dame school which is leading to a better understanding of ligatures to indicate a rhythmic mode. I suspect (but do not yet know) that the use of ligatures may be more limiting than the ecphonetic notation (Wellesz, 1961). There are also very simple ideas around organising the liturgy (precentor → congregation) that have echoes in shout choruses. There are ideas of re-using and elaborating on melodic material through organum and discantus; although I would want to use this as a texture to apply as required, and interchange freely within a work.
Shipton spoke to many people to write this book - it's an essential reference when talking about jazz history. Of particular interest is the conversation he had with the pianist Earl Hines about Parker and Gillespie - their use of exercise books (the sort that you write in, not the sort that has technical exercises written by someone else) is telling - and very similar to the books of passagi from the 16th Century, and in fact further back.
It may be interesting to look into how bebop became the predominant voice in black American music at the time - after all, there is no reason why other musicians could not have considered other approaches to harmony, melody and rhythm that were both different from swing and also different from what we hear as bebop.
This study provides evidence-based measures of affect for music. With these I can better explain what I mean by an emotional form in music.
Libreoffice has a component for writing mathematical formulae called "Math". With this component, the user is able to build up a library of symbols to be re-used later. As I was creating a library of musical symbols, I found that the Liberation fonts had a section for Byzantine ecphonetic signs. I could use these symbols to denote contours in melody. Using the "Math" component had a shallow learning curve and allowed for a free layout on the page.
Late Byzantine chant was not only written down using neumatic notation, but conducted by hand (p.287) - the Domestikos used chironomy as a mnemonic aid, as well as controlling the inflections of the chant. In addition to this, there was another system of notation - the ecphonetic signs (p.249).
Ecphonetic signs are prosodic in nature: it comes from the study of grammar. The markings made reference to tone (rising or falling), syllable length, type of breath (rough or "smooth") and phrasing. These signs were applied to phrases in the solemn lecture part of a pericope. The solemn lecture was more chanted than spoken, and by the tenth century there is evidence that the use of neumatic notation and ecphonetic signs overlapped (p. 257). They look similar, but were applied differently: neumes give contour and timing to words and syllables, while ecphonetic signs give a contour, timing, and character to a phrase as a unit.
If combined with non-diastematic letter notation, these symbols (or symbols like them) could provide timing and character information to a musical line. General punctuation already gives timing information: these are the descendants of the prosodic markings. At school, I was taught that the full-stop had a time value of four; the colon, three; the semi-colon, two; and the comma, one. Looking at the roots of this system - it is something I have always accepted without questioning - it would seem to relate to a section of a poem by the writer Cecil Hartley, written in 1818:
The stop point out, with truth, the time of pause
A sentence doth require at ev'ry clause.
At ev'ry comma, stop while one you count;
At semicolon, two is the amount;
A colon doth require the time of three;
The period four, as learned men agree
Using these rules, a sense of meter can be developed in a phrase. Such a phrase would not have an set quantitative rhythm, but a "pulse"; a feeling of periodicity.
Neumatic notation adds a demarcation of rhythm. Through the breve and longa we are given two units of relative time.
La Monte Young's anthology of contemporary notations. Together with the collections of Cage and Sauer, they have made me think about why I have settled on certain forms of notation.