Link - article by Avi Abrams

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Music

In Part 1 we saw music notation from hell, from the fringes of sanity and straight outside of this mortal coil... Music written by aliens to be played by aliens (who will have a few extra limbs to spare).

We did not exhaust this subject by any means, however, as new examples of this highly-ordered and extremely sophisticated madness (a secret vice for many a composer, perhaps...) kept popping up.

Pavane of the Reconstituted Visigoths

Andy Fielding sent us his new creation (he says "I do this kind of thing each time I change notation apps"):

Starting with a "Plagiarismo" tempo, the notes are increasingly bizarre: you are advised to play it -
- "fast enough to impress other musicians..."
- "condescendingly"
- slow down to "nauseoso" tempo...
- "keep wallet away from trombonists"
- emitting blood-curdling screams from time to time.
- keep repeating some sections to relieve the painful itch
- and even include a special "Pop Music Section", details of which are mercifully withheld.

Gotta love his copyright / disclaimer note:

(score credit: Andy Fielding, Musician, Composer, Music Editor, Richmond, BC)

Be careful when performing this piece, you may find that your audience will start climbing up the walls, so aim your instrument gradually toward the ceiling to improve acoustics.

Simplicity itself!

Sometimes less is more, and the absence of notation could be even better, when accompanied by the moonlit night:

(image via)

A Tribute to Serge Gainsbourg

Remember the highly sublime and scandalously sensual song by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin Je t'aime... moi non plus? This is how it translates in appropriate notation (which might take a little longer to play) -

(image credit: Scary Ideas)

Yoko Ono's "Voice Piece for Soprano":

(image via)

Music notation makes up a map of the world in an unusual design by World Beat Music - I wonder what kind of melody would it produce, if played? (click to enlarge):

(image via)

James Tenney invents a note for percussion (left), while a very strange note structure convulses in death throes on the right (taken from Sylvano Bussotti's "Pour Clavier", 1961):

(images via)

Christmas time is here!
(Stockhausen, "Die zehn wichtigsten Wörter", 1991)

(image via)

Nikos Skalkottas "Four Etudes [No.2](1941)" - (check out these chords... powerful!)

(image via)

Speaking about even more cryptic notation, here is "Play II" for harpsichord and synthesizer, from John Stead (with just a hint of spermatozoids in there, dancing) -

(image via)

OK, so how would you play the "Syncopated Texture" shown on the left image below? No wonder it's been called the "Imaginary Music" (though I suspect I may like it... may sound somewhat like spring, grass growing, etc.). But then, there is an even more puzzling score: Takehisa Kosugi's "+ -" (1987), shown on the right:

Tom Johnson "Imaginary Music", No. 65. "Syncopated Texture" ; Takehisa Kosugi "+ -" (1987)

Trying to perform the next piece may result in something loosely described as a "musical train crash" -

Dieter Schnebel: MO-NO. Musik z.Lesen (1969)

This is not notation, but certainly a creative use of the favorite media of nostalgic fans of Jimi Hendrix: a bunch of good old tape (art by iRI5, Erika Iris Simmons):

"Ghost in the Machine" - art by Erika Iris Simmons)

In the meantime, good old Johann Sebastian Bach sends his regards across the centuries and musical styles:

(image credit: Worth1000)



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! These are funny and would certainly seem a challenge! Although the majority of them are not really designed for serious performance, one that is (and has been performed) is Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet, from the first series. It's actually a part of an opera 'Wednesday from Light'.
See here:


for an explanation by the composer himself, and here:


for part of the first performance.

I watched a fascinating documentary of the rehearsals and first performance. Classical music now officially has no bounds!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Perpetual Music Student (hope you mean "perpetual" in a good way)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't that Handel?

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

No, Handel seem to look a bit different - link

Blogger Jns1986 said...

Check out this one: http://www.dofoundation.com/images/pvh.jpg

At http://www.jurriaan-andriessen.nl/index.php?pageID=11 You can listen to this music under "portret van Hedwig beluisteren"

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Jeroen - fantastic! can't wait for next part to include it.

Blogger Zen Porno said...

Some of this notations- Yoko Ono's "Voice Piece for Soprano", a note for percussion, Takehisa Kosugi "+ -" - were performed by Sonic Youth on their SYR4 "Goodbye XX Century" album


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