Entries tagged with “Graphic Scores”.


Radiating Lines Performance Score
Radiating Lines performance score

For your consideration a new score and the first piece of music I’ve recorded since February. Radiating Lines is an example of a  Meta-Score in that it is a score that generates a unique score every time you use it. I made during the John Cage Centenary week though it is not specifically dedicated to him. It certainly owes plenty to Cage as I think he was he first to use transparencies and in the construction of the score one is completely free to use chance operations but it is not required. But certainly a Post-Cage and one’s whose debts are I hope are clear.  Anyway on to the score (PDF download).

Radiating Lines

For any instrumentation and any number of performers


• A circular background mounted on a square backing matte
• A square overlay the same size as the square matte
• Mounting hardware of some sort
• These Instructions
Constructing the score

The included background and overlay materials can be simply printed out and put together as described in section 3 below. However if one wishes to create a unique version of the score the following instructions will guide you through the process.

1) The background

Take a circular piece of paper and numerous circular objects. With a pencil trace around these objects. The placement of the objects should be roughly centered. Tracings should be done quickly and mostly partially. This process should be done as unintentionally as possible. Chance procedures can be used as a guidance but are not required.

Mount this circular on a square backing matte that is 25 to 30% larger than the circular background. This matte should facilitate the mounting of the transparent over ally so that it can spin. E.G. allow a push pin or other mounting device.

2) The Overlay

The overlay is a series of lines of different weights originating from a common center. The lines should extend to both directions of the centering at varying lengths. Again these can be created “by eye” without intention or via chance procedures. There should be 4 to 8 lines that extend both directions from the center (8 to 16 lines radiating from the center). At least one line should extend beyond the total size of the transparency (which is the same size as the backing matte). If more then one line is of this length they must be of different weights

The overlay should be printed onto a transparency which should be cut to the same dimensions as the backing matte.

3) Assembling the score

The circular score should be mounted to the backing matte perfectly centered. The transparent overlay should be also centered and mounted with a push pin or some other device that allows it to be rotated.


Performing the score


Radiating Lines can be performed with any instrumentation over the length of time required to get through all of the material. It can be simultaneously performed by any number of players each of which should have their own score and which should independently follow these instructions.


Each performer should take their copy of the score and rotate the overlay to an individually set position. This position can be set at the performers discretion or via some form of chance procedure.

Performance instructions

The longest, thickest line should be placed topmost and is the starting line for performance. The score can be read clockwise or anti-clockwise.  On beginning the material in between this starting line and the next line – referred to as a “wedge” – should be played. Only the material that is in-between both lines should be played.  That is if there is material above the length of one of the lines it should not be interpreted. All aspects of the material should be considered including spaces between material, overlapping sections, differences in densities, imperfections and so on.

After playing all the material in a give wedge the next wedge should be moved to in the direction chosen by the performer. This  wedge should be gone through silently in a manner corresponding to the length of time that a given wedge would take to perform the material. That is to say that every other wedge should be silent for the length time it’d take to perform it. The circle should be gone around twice in order that all of the material be either interpreted or considered silently.

All material must be played – the performance should continue for as long as this takes. When played with multiple performers the material should be played independently with no attempt to coordinate beyond the initial start. The piece concludes when all performers have performed all of the material.

 First Recording

For the first realization of this piece I played through the score several times with three different instruments: a pentatonic lyre, a Steim Cracklebox and a Prepared Piano iPad app. The latter uses samples made from John Cage’s preparations and is a great app available on several platforms (a perfect tablet app – worth the US$1). These three separate recordings were multi-tracked together as per the instructions – that is to say as if they were recorded live by three people. Each track is a different length, so they start together initially but end at different times generating an effect of a gradual thinning out of the ensemble.  The lyre is recorded open air so there is a bit of a field recording aspect in that layer. Anyway give it a listen for yourself and as always I reccomend downloading the uncompressed version from Soundcloud.

John Cage

Happy Birthday!

Below is a score I wrote in tribute to John Cage, in this his centenary year. I may not get a chance to realize this score so I’m posting it up here for anyone to utilize. If anyone does realize this score let me know via the comments or an email. I’d certainly love to see and/or hear anyones attempts.

In recognition of John Cage’s frequent use of the I Ching for his ‘chance operations’ I chose to use it as a randomizing element for this score. I tend to not use the I Ching in my compositions; in the scores where I have used stochastic means I have only one other time used the I Ching (that was for Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) which like all of the Eleven Clouds releases was dedicated to an inspirational artist, in this case John Cage). For this piece this would require tossing coins, or yarrow stalks three hundred times (for this year only, +3n for each subsequent year).  However one could easily automate the generation of I Ching values in such a way to accurately capture the randomness of tossing the yarrow stalks. This page covers the mathematics quite well and there are definitely apps and webpages out there to get these values. If I get a chance to work on this (perhaps later in the far) I’d implement this in a spread sheet where one could automate the entire generation process. Then one could print it out or preferably use it as a guide to creating the performance score with brush and ink.

I’m definitely free to answer any questions in order to improve understanding of how to construct or perform the score. Comments on overall clarity are appreciated even if one isn’t going to perform it.

(for John Cage on the occasion of his hundredth birthday)


Composed in memoriam of John Cage in his centenary year.

Constructing the score

where n = the number of years since the birth of John Cage

1) Take a large sheet of paper, the larger the better, and mark from 1-64 on the left edge and top edge. The marks should be equidistant apart with the same spacing on the top and bottom. For instance each mark could be 1″ apart making for a 64×64 inch grid. The spacing that you choose is the scale for this score.

2) Using the I-Ching (or anything that captures the probabilities correctly see: http://www.dentato.it/iching/) generate four numbers for each value of n:  i.e.:

1 – 23, 42, 9, 17

If there are moving lines then you should generate both values putting the second into parenthesis. i.e.:

2 – 61 (37), 45, 19, 40

3 – 29 (54) ,12(19), 4, 8

4 – 8, 13, 49 (3), 36 (23)

5 – 26, 50 (38), 13 (2), 12

and so on

These numbers should be labeled x,y, z,w where the four numbers are: x, y: coordinates, z: orientation and w: magnitude.

3) Place a dot of ink, ideally with a brush, but at least in some way that they are not uniform, at the coordinates of the first two numbers as x, y. If there is already a dot here, proceed as if there isn’t perhaps creating a larger, darker, thicker or completely subsumed dot. If there is a parenthetical value for x, y or both x and y place a second dot at that those coordinates.

Note: If one were to automate this with software cast an additional I Ching value to be used as the diameter of the dot. You should map the the value in the range of  1-64 to 4 x your scale. Changes in this case should either be applied to the second dot if it exists or added to the diameter of this dot.

4) Next mark the angle from z using the following formula using 6 degrees for each count of the generated number. Values greater than 60 should have no angle marked. If there is a parenthetical value then mark a second angle following the same system for the first.

5) Finally draw a line using either pencil or ink (or both) from the center of the dot at the marked angle the length of which is determined by w using the scale set in the grid markings (see 1). If no angle has been marked, no line should be drawn. If there is a parenthetical value then there are two conditions. If there are two angles then the two magnitudes are used for them in a one to one correspondence (and on all dots if there are more than one). If there is only one angle then add the two values together. This may extend beyond the marked boundaries or even off the paper.


With a scale of 1=1″

Ex. 1: 23, 42, 9, 17

Here there would be a dot at  23, 42 with at line at 454 degrees extending 17“.

Ex. 2:  61 (37), 45, 19, 40

For this case there would be a dot at  61, 45 and at 37, 45 with at line at 114 degrees extending 40“.

Ex. 3:  29 (54) ,12 (19), 4, 8

In this example there would be a dot at  29, 12 and at 54, 19 with at line at 24 degrees extending 8“.

Ex. 4: 8, 13, 49 (3), 36 (23)

You would have a dot at 8, 13 and then two lines extending out  at 294 degrees for 36″ and 18 degrees for 23″.

Ex. 5:  26, 50 (38), 13 (2), 12

You would have a dot at 26, 50 and 26, 38 and then two 12″ lines from each dot  at 78 degrees and 12 degrees.


Performing the Score

If playing electronics the score should be interpreted as an Electric Score. For acoustic instruments it should be interpreted as a Pool of Sound (a Musical Pattern variant), for which see the specific instructions below. It can be play simultaneously with other instances of this score, for which each performer should generate their own score.  A duration should not be set for performance, the performance should continue until all the material is performed.


I. Playing as an Electric Score

  • For live electronics setup configured in response to the score.
  • Markings are not indications of sounds to played but of overall effect.
  • Whitespace must be taken into account
  • There is not a one to one mapping of length and duration; duration should be sufficient to realize the affect of the markings.
  • Always move in clusters.


II. Playing as a Pool of Sound

  • Pools of sound arise from the space in which they are set.
  • Each pool should be approached individually with common or connecting elements providing the structure.
  • The path through the score is up to the performer.
  • Spaces between the pools must be observed and should be also be a structural element.
  • A pool should be thought of as a system which can have multiple elements: a sound, but also its duration, repetition, dynamic and so on.
  • How the characteristics are determined is up to the performer but whatever structure is applied should form the basis for those that share symbolic features.


The Curve of the Earth Prelude

With the first performance of the The Curve of the Earth scheduled for late October (much more on this later) the Network Instrument setup has been finalized with only minor adjustments in progress. With the current setup the first recording of the score has been made which I’ve uploaded to SoundCloud for all to check out.

The Curve of the Earth [Prelude/00:00:00-00:43:30]

from the score:

At the opening performance of the piece a prelude should be played. This can be an expression of the network at startup as it is brought into readiness by the performer for the beginning of the score. Alternatively there is hard line on the score that marks the beginning of the score but prior to that is some material that could be partially (or fully) obscured by the scroll handle or some device for holding it into place. An impression of this material can be used for this prelude. The Prelude should be specifically indicated in records or recordings of the score, which would include the duration but not a length. i.e:

The Curve of the Earth [Prelude / 00:00:00-00:43:30]

This recording is my first attempt at playing from the score and while done in my apartment approximates a live performance in that it is a single take from material which, while I created it, had yet to realize. As discussed in the initial post on the score, it is an overlay upon live electronics, a Network Instrument in specific, and thus is inherently unpredictable. I’d imagine that the more one plays the score, especially with a static or mostly static Network that increasing familiarity would lead to a certain degree of expertise.  For this first recording it is about as raw and risky as possible as, while the parameters of this particular network have been explored, its behavior and limits are certainly only partially understood.

The scan from the score above is the entirety of the portion of the score that can be used for the prelude with a bit of the actual beginning of the score to the right of the hard line. As the score is a scroll and ideally would have scroll handles (currently it does not) this bit of the score would be partially or perhaps completely obscured by the handle. The hard line was put on the score to indicate material which absolutely must not be obscured in any way. The markings prior to that aren’t really representative of the score (and some of them were brush preparations) but are usable within the rules of the score to realize the prelude.

Also I put up all the current scans from the electric score onto Flickr; check em out if interested.

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt) 1

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt)


The Curve of the Earth
An electric score for soloist performing on a networked instrument with optional observations

The Curve of the Earth, is the new project that I’ve alluded to in a few posts earlier this year. This piece is a union of three elements: An Electric Score, a Network Instrument configuration and six optional Observations.

Electric Scores

An Electric Score is a score meant to work in concert with a live electronics setup.  Live Electronic configurations are rather score-like in and of themselves, in that a particular setup has it’s own characteristic behavior which the performer interacts withs.  They tend to be self-activating to some degree and can operate independently (though often predictably) without much user input.  Electric Scores are thus designed to influence this user input but are far from the strict guidelines of a traditionally notated score in which symbols require a consistent reaction. Electric Scores are a metascore that is to say it is a set of rules used to generate scores. It has few prescriptions on what the scores should be as they depend on the associated live electronics setup but it does describe a set of parameters that insures that the generated scores are all still an Electric Score.

The Curve of the Earth is a graphic score constructed of brushed ink on a long scroll of rice paper.  The scroll is quite long -30 or 40 feet long. The ink is usually quite lightly brushed on and the folds, wrinkles and other imperfections in the paper are a vital part of the score.  The score is meant to influence the live electronic setup, so it is not that case that you are turning a knob, or moving a slider in reaction to any of these markings. They are there to influence how you are trying to guide the setup. How this is done is left to the performer, but it definitely behooves the performer to be pretty familiar with both their instrument and the section of the score they are to play.

A Network Instrument

The Network Instrument in questions


The Network Instrument

I’ve written about the Network Instrument quite a bit in these pages (primary articles here and here) so I won’t delve much into the theory. I used various network instrument configurations in the Eleven Clouds project and as I stated in the interview I took part in w/r/t that project, I learned a lot from that project about how I’d setup a network for extended performance. This network is the direct result of that experimentation and experience. There were several elements that I felt I wanted to add into the setup and since the conclusion of that project I’ve made a lot of progress in finding and integrated those components into my base configuration.  In general I tried to use existing items where I could adapt them as opposed to just acquiring new objects, as that way I was able to test my theories without accumulating more stuff.

Network Instrument detail

The Network Instrument detail


In this case here I’m using the Nord Micro-modular primarily for EQ which with the Doepfer controller I’m able to make a fairly fine grained adjustments to the overall sound. This has worked well enough that I could see adding a dedicated unit for this, thus freeing up the Micro-modular for other uses.  The Rat Shack Mixer I’m using more or less as a matrix mixer and I definitely would like to replace it with the real deal – it’d be a lot smaller for one and could easily add a few more patch points. The major addition to this setup is the Jomox T-Resonator – this device is almost like a physical manifestation of aspects of Network Instrument theory.  The unit combines filters, some simple effects, internal feedback and most importantly it can modulate between it’s two channels.  It has a nice degree of unpredictability to it and after months of experimenting with it, it has really added to this setup. This network is highly (though far from totally) connected and that has really added to the possibilities.

This network allows for a variety of adjustments both in patching, connections and interfaces which I can utilize for varying parts of the score. This is vital as the score, in its section about the electronics, specifies that the network should not be fixed, that it should evolve along with the score.

Each performance of the piece should have the network especially considered for it. Which isn’t to say it should be a new network for each performance but that the section of the score that is to be played should be considered in what is to be played. Likewise the previous portion should be considered and a small section of a recording of it could even be added as a sound source at the beginning of a new section.


Observation 3

Observation 3 (for percussion) (excerpt)


Optional Observations

There are six “observations”  that are separate one page scores that can be performed simultaneously with any portion of the score. In the course of a complete performance they can be performed any number of times in concert with the primary score. At any given time no more than two ‘observations’ can be made. Over the course of a complete performance the tendency should be for the bulk of the time to be without observations and of course none need be made.

Observations can be made from any sound source within the specified constraints, but a network instrument, If two of them are occurring simultaneously they should be different instruments.  The material on the pages should be interpreted as a Musical Pattern in that a duration for the page should be determined in advance (in collaboration with the Electric Score performer) and that the silences between material should be consistent within this time. The observations are printed on clear transparencies which should be overlaid onto the Electric Score (the same scroll that the primary performer is used, unrolled to where the observers are. If there is not enough score left to do this, then no observations can be made). The observations are interpretations of the intersection of the primary score and the material on the transparency. Material is not to be repeated.

Observation 1 – for a stringed instrument
Observation 2 – for any sound source
Observation 3 – for percussion
Observation 4 – for any sound source
Observation 5 – for bowed strings
Observation 6 – for percussion


The Curve of the Earth (excerpt) 5

The Curve of the Earth (excerpt)

Performance and Recordings

[The Curve of the Earth] should be performed sequentially, that is to say each performance takes up where the last one stops. Each performance should perform as much of the score as the allotted time allows but the overall pace should be sedate.  Each section should be then marked and dated with the performance.  Any recordings of any parts of the score should include the length and time of the score played. I.e.:

The Curve of the Earth [00’00”-05’30” / 00:00:00-01:09:47]

As the above excerpt from the instructions indicates, The Curve of the Earth, is meant to be played in its entirety as opposed to choosing a section to play. However it is not required to be performed in one single occaison, though of course if one could devote the time to it, one could.  It is meant to be played at a deliberate pace, to allow the network instrument to reveal itself.  For as I stated above, this score is a overlay on top of this network – the network is the score. And the network should shift and change as the score shifts and change. So really it is expected to be done in multiple performances, picking up where one has left off. It is hard to determine how long it would take to perform at this point, since it is unperformed and of course this will vary by performer. In the end I don’t think it is important, except that it is meant to be played at a rather sedate pace. It should live.

From the perspective of a listener perhaps the details of these elements aren’t important and there is also a risk of the music, once finally experienced, not really living up to any sort of lofty claims.  But as I stated from the outset I want to more or less document the entire process of this project, to lay out what it is that is trying to be done.  This post describes the score and some of the process; look for further posts that describe more of the ideas and concepts behind it.  Ideally also performances should begin at some point, but life events may put those off for some time.  A performance of this piece is pretty liberally defined and recording in ones living room qualifies. So perhaps I’ll try to get a recording of the first few inches made before I have to pack everything away for a forthcoming move – keep an eye out for that to be posted here. But ideally in the future the bulk of the piece will be performed live. Hopefully more on that later.