Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1100 20211120T1150 America/Chicago Politics of Notation AMS 2021
Musical Indeterminacy as Critical and Affirmative Play
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 17:50:00 UTC

Musicians involved with experimentalism enact modes of play that can take both critical and affirmative forms. From altering conventional wind instruments to inventing new systems of notation, artists have found myriad ways to take part in playful practices. In fact, the malleable constructs of experimentalism in the mid-to-late 20th century trouble the fine line between work and play: they typically demand significant investments of time and energy, yet they also explicitly allow for the fun of creative engagement and, often, humor. 

As scholars in the developing subfields of ludomusicology and digital-media studies build new theoretical models about gaming and play, we in experimental-music studies are also well-positioned to illuminate the aesthetic and philosophical stakes of these practices. In this paper, I draw on archival materials from performances associated with the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo, NY in the 1960s and '70s to demonstrate both critical and affirmative forms of playfulness within experimentalism, and the ways in which these practices provide insight into present-day creative industries, such as video games and social media. Such connections invite inquiry into the creative labor involved, particularly through the lenses of "modding" and "user-generated content." I explore these two concepts in conjunction with both gaming and music-making, through a set of interrelated case studies: indeterminate works by artists affiliated with Fluxus, the Creative Associates, and the Sonic Arts Union. I further demonstrate how these forms of engagement can mask the labor underlying their production and thus embody the concept of "interpretive labor": the effort required to translate experimental scores into an auditory musical experience. While this suggests the possibility of exploitation (tied to critique), it also points to the value these ideas hold for their participants, through affirming their acceptance in the shared creative economy.

Presenters Kirsten Carithers
University Of Louisville
The New, the Useful, and the Non-Obvious: Notation Patents and the Pursuit of Progress
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 17:50:00 UTC

With over 1,500 entries, the European Patent Office [EPO] is the largest international archive of idiomatic music notation systems in the world. To this day, it continues to aggregate methods of notation-in the last decade, over 500 applications pertaining to musical inscription were processed in the United States alone.    

Since the early 19th century, music notation has been patented as a type of mechanical process. Each patent is evaluated on the core institutional [EPO] standards of originality, functionality and non-obviousness which in turn contribute to the certification of the notation as intellectual property. This process inherently challenges the traditional understanding of notational evolution and use as defined by a central, Western archetype. Significantly, patent assessments are not based on specifically musical criteria. In addition, the prioritizing of mechanical functionality, uniqueness, and intellectual property runs counter to a music-historical narrative that prioritizes Western notation's organic, authorless development and unregulated ubiquity. Situated within a proto-Darwinian model of notational evolution, however, as supported by publications like Gardner Read's _The Source Book of Proposed Notation Reforms_ (1987), alternative notations, like patents, are dismissed as ineffectual attempts at reform. 

In this paper, I will argue that the impetus for notational innovation and intervention is less motivated by a reformative impulse in relation to standard practices than by necessity in musical communities of practice where the standard proves insufficient. Using the criteria and aggregated data from the EPO as a frame, I will outline an egalitarian understanding of notational difference that proposes a more reciprocal, as opposed to hierarchical, relationship between standard notation and its idiomatic satellites. A methodology based on patent criteria facilitates the decoupling of analysis from methods that continue to prioritize, both implicitly and explicitly, Western notation's role as master signifier. More importantly, as a collection of heterogeneous ethnographic data spanning centuries, the patents reveal unique communities of musical practice that developed in tandem with, rather than ancillary to, standard pedagogies and practice.  


Presenters Ginger Dellenbaugh
Yale University
World Graphic Scores: Between the Notes of a Transpacific Avant-Garde
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 17:50:00 UTC

What can graphic musical scores tell us about sounds yet to be heard, as well as the stories about their creators and their worlds? In this paper I will discuss two exhibitions of graphic scores, both held in Tokyo in 1962, and offer a historical perspective on the important role the graphic score format played in locating Japan as a meeting place for a transnational avant-garde. The first exhibition, titled _4 Composers_, took place at the Tokyo Gallery. The second, held at the Minami Gallery, was the _Exhibition of World Graphic Scores_, which co-organizers critic/artist Kuniharu Akiyama and composer Toshi Ichiyanagi planned to coincide with John Cage and David Tudor's visit to Japan. Not only did both exhibitions demonstrate active engagement with the contemporary international avant-garde, they strikingly foreshadowed experimental artistic practice today. The two exhibitions attested to the cultivation of a new transnational avant-garde that challenges the dominance of Western Europe and North America as the uncontested sites of origin and invention in narratives about experimental practice. At the same time, however, the music created by the Tokyo avant-garde resulted in erecting its own hegemonic structures of power and omissions. Revisiting the two exhibitions, I propose an imaginary exhibition as a process of historical projection. Looking between and beyond the documents of the 1962 exhibitions, what are the possibilities afforded by an exhibition of "world graphic scores" organized today? What are the limits and possibilities of the exhibition format and the graphic score as a medium? The imaginary exhibition is in part inspired by Saidiya Hartman's notion of "creatively disordering" the archive as a way to imagine a different account--one in which practices rendered unregistrable under institutional narratives might now have a place to be seen and heard on their own terms. The imaginary exhibition recognizes the silencing and disappearance of certain scores from institutional narratives. And yet, it proposes new possibilities from the themes that emerged from the two shows, both of which provided frameworks for thinking about a transnational avant-garde from the vantage point of Tokyo, 1962. 

Miki Kaneda
Boston University
Yale University
Boston University
University of Louisville
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