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The compositional use of numerals in music notation

Glover, Richard (2010) The compositional use of numerals in music notation. In: Music and numbers 2010 conference proceedings. Canterbury Christchurch University, Canterbury, UK. ISBN ISBN 978-1-899253-76-0

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The use of arabic numerals as the main carrier of content in musical notation is common in certain forms of early European and contemporary experimental music. The central aim of the paper is to survey this use and discuss why some experimental composers work with numerals over other forms of notation. Does the abstract nature of individual integers communicate something extra-mathematical to the reader, something that would bring about a particular approach to performance? Do numerals possess inherent qualities which express the objectivity desired by particular experimental composers?

Early Spanish and Italian forms of tablature employed arabic numerals to indicate fret numbers, and recent research has uncovered English keyboard tablature designed for amateur players which uses numerals to represent keys on the keyboard which had previously only been though to exist on the continent. The instructional nature of these scores is compared with that of recent experimental music which employ only numerals in the main body of the score. Often intrinsically related to the compositional concept, this usage is explored in works by Michael Pisaro and Antoine Beuger, and younger composers Taylan Susam and Joseph Kudirka, addressing various methods of this 'numeral-only' approach. Just Intonation notational systems, which employ numerical ratios, and composers' approaches to their employment in scores, are also included in the discussion.

The notion of a score appearing more 'instructional' than 'interpretational' is explored, and by noting similarities in documented reports from performers on approaches towards playing this music, tentative conclusions can be drawn as to what a numerical notation communicates - opening up various creative possibilities for the future.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
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Depositing User: Richard Glover
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2012 11:06
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 20:24


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