activity page will offer:
opportunity to understanding musical notation
arena in which to use creative thinking skills
Most people are familiar with standard musical notation. Some people,
especially guitar players, may also be familiar with tablature,
or tab for short. In this activity, you'll have the chance to go
beyond these traditional representations and create your own method
of musical notation .
of art materials
device (tape recorder, CD player, computer, etc.)
- Think of any one note. In your mind, have that same note repeat
every second. Now, draw a shape and/or pattern that would communicate
this repeating note. Be creative in your use of colors, shapes
and patterns. You can even use art materials and create a 3D representation
of this sound pattern.
- Now, think of a slightly higher note playing the same pattern.
Based upon the language you are developing, write down the musical
notation for this note pattern.
- Think of a third note, much lower than your original note. It
too plays the one-second pattern. How would you communicate the
pattern of this lower note?
- Now, let's bring all three sounds together and have them play
the same repeating pattern. How would you represent this? Can
you think of any shortcuts or icons that might effectively communicate
- Think of the tune "Jingle Bells." Using the language you are
creating, write down the patterns and symbols that would communicate
this tune. Remember that notes are not only different in pitch,
but they also differ in duration. Make sure these differences
are communicated in your language.
- Suppose a bass drum joined the melody instrument. How would
you add a drum beat to your musical notation?
- Suppose another instrument joined in, but played the same melody
an octave higher. How would you represent this in your notation?
8. Keep increasing the complexity of your musical creation. As
it expands, extend your set of rules and representations to compile
a language that can communicate all of the elements of this musical
- In standard notation, how is a note's pitch represented?
(By its vertical placement on a musical staff.)
- What kinds of tools and strategies might expand the communication
of standard musical notation?
(Accept all reasonable suggestions such as colors, additional
shapes, designs and positions, a 3D staff, tactile elements, etc.)
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of standardized notation?
(It is helpful in communicating musical concepts to a wide
audience. However, it may be limited, less creative, and kludgey
in how it presents some musical concepts, especially when applied
to hyperinstrument compositions.)
Obtain a guitar or other string instrument. Compare and contrast
the appearance of standard musical notation for guitar with guitar
tablature. Which type of notation visually represents the guitar
fingerboard? Explain. What are the advantages and disadvantages
of tab? Once you are familiar with tab basics, create a guitar tab
for a simple original melody composed on guitar.
Language of Dance
Could you create a language to communicate dance and movement? Begin
with a basic walking step. How could you record this on paper? How
might larger, smaller, softer or stronger steps be communicated?
Change the step. Skip. Hop. Spin. Jump. Add more dancers. Have your
performers move individually and then in unison. As you expand the
choreography, extend your language to include all of the elements
of your dance composition.
Definition in Music
Using a piece of software such as Hyperscore, compose a musical
piece that suggests the contention between traditional instruments
and hyperinstruments. Identify themes and melodic motives that are
associated with instruments and contrasting playing style. When
the piece begins, use your musical language to identify the basic
sounds and instruments. As it evolves, integrate the rivalry of
styles. As a finale, build the composition into a crescendo in which
the styles compete head-to-head. Which style of music survives?
As the composer, you get to select the winner and communicate the
A site that explains the brain opera
The Hyperscore program and information. It only plays on PCs with
a MIDI sound card and Direct3D graphics acceleration.
to Standard Musical Notation
A primer on standard musical notation