Notation as Process: Interpretation of Open Scores and the ‘Journey Form’


The performances which inform this discussion of graphic, text, and open notation took place between 2010 and 2014, and primarily from February to May 2014. Since 2010 I have commissioned and performed twenty new works for the organ, and for the organ and fixed media or organ and live electronics, with a special focus on scores which contain some element of open notation. In addition to new commissions I have also performed a number of works suitable for organ (and electronics) which have been composed during this time, primarily by British composers. This has allowed me to become highly involved in the process of the creation of the music from the point of the commission to the performance, including the possibility of discussion with the composers before the composition of the work, collaboration during its composition and in preparation for the performances, and ongoing evaluation throughout the process. The nature of organ performance is that radical differences in instrumental sound, construction, and concert space and acoustic are experienced from location to location and this has encouraged constant re-evaluation of the music and its performance as the music has travelled; this aspect of the experience of performing these pieces has encouraged further reflection, and it is from these experiences and this reflection that this discussion draws its information. Although the individual process of preparation and interpretation of open notation may be seen to be personal and individual from performer to performer, I wish to address the ways in which repeated performances of open scores reveal something about the compositions themselves and the interpretative process of engaging with the notation. It is the contention of this chapter that interpretation, in the context of this notation, is not a singular and linear process which begins when the performer first comes into contact with the score and ends with the performance, but an ongoing and iterative process, and a process which involves the composer, performer, and the score at every instance. This discussion will, then, seek to address the ‘work concept’ in the case of music, and to define the ‘work’ as a proces

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