Music, but not as you might know it…

Alexandra Palace’s Creative Learning programme has teamed up with the School of Noise to present….The Global Graphic Score Project. Dan Mayfield, from The School of Noise explains more:

A quick introduction

“One feature of many graphic scores is they can be played by any number of players, of any standard, on any instrument. No two performances sound the same, but all the players will be following the same instructions.”

What is a score?

A score is the name we give to music when it is written down. It usually looks like this:

This traditional way of writing down music can take a long time to learn. It has rules that a musician needs to follow. However this isn’t the only way we can write down music.

What is a graphic score?

In the 1950’s, composers began experimenting with new sounds and needed another way to write down their music. They developed a new way of visualising music known as graphic scores or graphic notation.

Graphic scores often look very different to traditional musical scores. Instead of lines and dots on a musical stave, graphic scores can use all sorts of different images and symbols to tell the performer what to play.

Stripsody by Cathy Berberian looks like this (below), and now watch Cathy’s performance


Below is John Cage’s Water Walk, while this is his performance

The Ally Pally – School of Noise challenge:

Taking inspiration from the likes of Cathy Berberian and John Cage, our project aims to bring together people from around the world using sound and art. Whatever your age, location or musical or artistic level, you’re invited to take part in this worldwide experimental sound art collaboration.

Between now and the end of October we are encouraging people to inspire each other’s artwork to create new sounds and pieces of music.

How does it work?

  • Individuals or groups of people design and upload their graphic scores
  • People view the online gallery of graphic scores and select one to download
  • These scores are performed and turned into music and sound art pieces
  • Recordings are made and loaded to our website for other people to listen to

You can choose to be the composer or the performer. Or maybe try doing both! You can find out everything you need via our project brochure and our website