Non-traditional notation teaser

Something to spur imagination while I’m working on a new part of the arranging guide: Non-traditional notation. While sheet music is super-handy, and provides a common language to communicate music, sometimes people just don’t speak Wookie, and you have to think outside the box.

~How would you write out parts for someone who doesn’t read music?

~How do you teach an Alto2 if they don’t understand how quarter notes work?

~How do you put together an a cappella arrangement without writing down any notes?

Ponder that while I’m on a boat.

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So, I’ve been thinking about this question:

“How would you write out parts for someone who doesn’t read music?”

The easy answer is to record it and them learn it by ear – but that feels like *such* a cop-out. Do that once, and you’re stuck doing it for all time. So I thought: I’d sing the part to them – and make *them* work out a way to notate it that they could use. Sure, it would take longer, but it might stand some chance of motivating a desire to learn how to use everyone else’s notation.

Written By liz garnett on March 21st, 2009 @ 5:54 am

Just you wait until I can pump out this post- I’ve picked up some interesting forms of graphical notation, location-based vocal landmarks, and references out of other parts. A lot of what I picked up was when I tried to teach a part, and had them notate in their own way, and I’ll be writing about what they did.

So yes, it did motivate people, though not so much to understand traditional notation as to invent their own.

Written By Dan Newman on March 21st, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

Oh, that’s so interesting – get onto writing that post without delay, okay? ;-)

Do you find these personal notation systems are mostly about mmemonics (as indeed the neumes our traditional system developed from were), or can they be used to learn a part by someone who’s not heard it before?

Written By liz garnett on March 21st, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

There’s lots to be said about this, but if we’re getting into issues of on-the-fly arrangements, there’s a proud tradition of this in the form of both Barbershop groups and Doowop groups. Also, horn sections in New Orleans-inspired funk and rock have long improvised their backing parts on the spot. Often there would be a leader of the section who would make up a lick for a section, and then the others would follow it without missing a beat. I’d love to make a post on this in the near future. More on the way!

Written By Yuri Broze on March 25th, 2009 @ 10:55 am


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