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The Decibel Score Player - A Digital Tool for reading graphic Notation.

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In 2009, the Decibel new music ensemble based in Perth, Western Australia was formed with an associated manifesto that stated “Decibel seek to dissolve anydivision between sound art, installation and music by focusing on the combination of acoustic and electronic instruments” [1]. The journey provided by this focus led to a range of investigations into different score types, resulting in a re-writing of the groups statement to “pioneering electronic score formats, incorporating mobile score formats and networked coordination performance environments” [2]. This paper outlines the development of Decibel’s work with the ‘screen score’, including the different stages of the ‘Decibel ScorePlayer’, an application (App) for reading graphic notation on the iPad. The paper proposes that the Decibel ScorePlayer App provides a new, more accurate and reliable way to coordinate performances of music where harmony and pulse are not the primary elements described by notation. It features a discussion of selected compositions facilitated by the application, with a focus on the significance of the application to the author’s own compositional practices. The different stages in the development, from prototype score player to the establishment of a commercialized ‘Decibel ScorePlayer’, are outlined in the context of practice led investigations.
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UNIVERSITE PARIS SORBONNE / IRCAM
PARIS
First International Conference on Technologies for Music Notation and Representation
TENOR 2015
28-30 May, 2015
Université Paris-Sorbonne / Ircam
Paris
Proceedings published by :
Institut de Recherche en Musicologie, IReMus
2, rue de Louvois 75002 Paris
ISBN : 978-2-9552905-0-7
EAN : 9782955290507
Editors :
Marc Battier
Jean Bresson
Pierre Couprie
Cécile Davy-Rigaux
Dominique Fober
Yann Geslin
Hugues Genevois
François Picard
Alice Tacaille
Credits :
Nicolas Taffin (Logo design)
Nicolas Viel (Layout design)
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without the permission of the publishers or the authors concerned.
All copyrights remain with the authors.
Organizing committee
Marc Battier, IReMus Université Paris-Sorbonne
Jean Bresson, Ircam-CNRS UMR STMS
Jérémie Garcia, Ircam (Posters and demo chair)
Pierre Couprie, IReMus Université Paris-Sorbonne
Cécile Davy-Rigaux, IReMus, CNRS
Dominique Fober, GRAME
Yann Geslin, INA-GRM
Hugues Genevois, LAM UPMC
François Picard, IReMus Université Paris-Sorbonne
Alice Tacaille, IReMus Université Paris-Sorbonne
Student volunteers
Fabiano Araujo
Elsa Filipe
Martin Guerpin
Marina Maluli
Daniel Rezende
Thomas Saboga
Steering committee
The Steering Committee is responsible for guiding future directions with regards to the TENOR conference.
Its members currently include :
Jean Bresson, Ircam-CNRS UMR STMS
Pierre Couprie, IReMus Université Paris-Sorbonne
Dominique Fober, GRAME
Yann Geslin, INA-GRM
Richard Hoadley, Anglia Ruskin University
Mike Solomon, Ensemble 101
Scientific committee
ACarlos Agon
Andrea Agostini
Gerard Assayag
BKarim Barkati
Marc Battier
Sandeep Bhagwati
Andrew Blackburn
Alan Blackwell
Alain Bonardi
Bruno Bossis
Jean Bresson
CElaine Chew
Michael Clarke
Pierre Couprie
DCécile Davy-Rigaux
Frédéric Dufeu
ESimon Emmerson
FDominique Fober
Ichiro Fujinaga
GJérémie Garcia
Hugues Genevois
Yann Geslin
Daniele Ghisi
Jean-Louis Giavitto
Gérald Guillot
HGeorg Hajdu
Keith Hamel
Richard Hoadley
JFlorent Jacquemard
Guillaume Jacquemin
KMika Kuuskankare
LLeigh Landy
MThor Magnusson
Mikhail Malt
Peter Manning
Tom Mays
Alex Mclean
OYann Orlarey
PFrancois Pachet
François Picard
RPhilippe Rigaux
SEleanor Selfridge-Field
Mike Solomon
Marco Stroppa
TAlice Tacaille
Matthew Thibeault
VAnders Vinjar
ii
TENOR 2015
LeadsheetJS : a Javascript Library for Online Lead Sheet Editing 1
Daniel Martín, Timothée Neullas, François Pachet
Bigram Editor : a Score Editor for the Bigram Notation 11
Andres Perez-Lopez, Jose M. Alcantara, Bertrand Kientz
Expressive Quantization of Compex Rhythmic Structures for Automatic Music 18
Transcription
Mauricio Rodriguez
Computer-aided Melody Note Transcription Using the Tony Software : Accuracy 23
and Efficiency
Matthias Mauch, Chris Cannam, Rachel Bittner, George Fazekas, Justin Salamon,
Jiajie Dai, Juan Bello, Simon Dixon
Understanding Animated Notation 32
Christian M. Fischer
An Atomic Approach to Animated Music Notation 40
Ryan Ross Smith
Semaphore : Cross-domain Expressive Mapping with Live Notation 49
Richard Hoadley
The Decibel Scoreplayer - a Digital Tool for Reading Graphic Notation 59
Cat Hope, Lindsay Vickery
Spectromorphological Notation: Exploring the Uses of Timbral Visualisations in 71
Ethnomusicological Works
Mohd Hassan Abdullah, Andrew Blackburn
DENM (Dynamic Environmental Notation for Music) : Introducing a 75
Performance-centric Musical Interface
James Bean
OSSIA: Towards a Unified Interface for Scoring Time and Interaction 82
Jean-Michaël Celerier, Pascal Baltazar, Clément Bossut, Nicolas Vuaille, Jean-Michel
Couturier, Myriam Desainte-Catherine
A Sign to Write Acousmatic Scores 92
Jean-Louis Di Santo
Spatialization Symbolic Music Notation (SSMN) at ICST 99
Emile Ellberger, Germán Toro-Perez, Johannes Schuett, Linda Cavaliero, Giorgio Zoia
Accretion: Flexible, Networked Animated Music Notation for Orchestra with the 104
Raspberry Pi
K. Michael Fox
Single Interface for Music Score Searching and Analysis 110
Ichiro Fujinaga, Andrew Hankinson
Browsing soundscapes 117
Patrice Guyot, Julien Pinquier
iv
Copyright: © 2015 Cat Hope and Lindsay Vickery. This is an open-
access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License 3.0 Unported, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original author and source are credited.
THE DECIBEL SCOREPLAYER - A DIGITAL TOOL
FOR READING GRAPHIC NOTATION
Cat Hope
Lindsay Vickery
Edith Cowan University
c.hope@ecu.edu.au
Edith Cowan University
l.vickery@ecu.edu.au
ABSTRACT
In 2009, the Decibel new music ensemble based in Perth,
Western Australia was formed with an associated
manifesto that stated “Decibel seek to dissolve any
division between sound art, installation and music by
focusing on the combination of acoustic and electronic
instruments”[1]. The journey provided bythisfocusled
to a range of investigations into different score types,
resulting in a re-writing of the groups statement to
“pioneering electronic score formats, incorporating
mobile score formats and networked coordination
performance environments” [2]. This paper outlines the
development of Decibel’s work with the ‘screen score’,
including the different stages of the ‘Decibel
ScorePlayer’, an application (App) for reading graphic
notation on the iPad. The paper proposes that the Decibel
ScorePlayer App provides a new, more accurate and
reliable way to coordinate performances of music where
harmony and pulse are not the primary elements
described by notation. It features a discussion of selected
compositions facilitated by the application, with a focus
onthesignificanceoftheapplicationtotheauthor’sown
compositional practices. The different stages in the
development, from prototype score player to the
establishment of a commercialized ‘Decibel
ScorePlayer’, are outlined in the context of practice led
investigations.
INTRODUCTION
The Decibel new music ensemble is made up of six
renowned exponents of new music in Perth, Western
Australia. Three of these performers are also composers,
and one of the performers has a mathematical computer
programming background. The other two performers are
supportive of workshopping processes and a variety of
approaches to new music, including working with
electronics and improvisation. Decibel have sought to
support Australian, and specifically, Western Australia
new music practice, and have commissioned over eighty
Australian works since their inception. A large proportion
of these works are from composers within the group, but
many are from significant Australian composers,
electronic artists and songwriters. There is also an
international aspect in their repertoire, with the group
having presented monograph concerts of works by US
composers Alvin Lucier and John Cage, as well as works
by the late Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi and French
musique concrete artist Lionel Marchetti. All the Decibel
commissions feature acoustic and electronic components,
and the group perform these works without a standard
public amplification set up or live engineer. All
electronics are generated from the stage, and a collection
of powered monitor type speakers are used to present the
electronic components throughout, which may vary from
electronic playback to interactive and spatialised
electronics. The rationale for this approach is to enable
electronics to behave more like acoustic instruments, by
using directional monitor speakers on the stage, giving a
focus to the source of sound, and the way the sound is
controlled and manipulated created by an operator [3].
This approach has lent itself to music scores that use
graphic and extended notations, and included parts where
electronics are scored quite specifically, and often, read
on a computer. Decibel ensemble member Lindsay
Vickery calls these ‘screen scores’ - music presented on
and read from a computer screen. He classifies these
scores into four types: real-time, scrolling, mobile and
traditional [4]. Decibel engages all of these types of score
in their repertoire, with a focus on real-time and scrolling
scores - but also developing new categories.
In 2009, the composers within the group, Cat Hope,
59
Lindsay Vickery and Stuart James, worked together to
develop a solution that would enable the presentation of
screen scores for Decibel to perform. The entire ensemble
has been involved in a process of creation and
interpretation of musical works in where new ideas and
techniques are conceptualised, tested, evaluated, revised
and disseminated in performances, recordings and
archiving [5]. Through this process, the group developed
a system for reading scrolling scores that was prototyped
in MaxMSP. With the assistance of programmer (and
Decibel viola player) Aaron Wyatt, these systems
evolved into an iOS App, the Decibel ScorePlayer for the
Apple iPad. It is now available on the iTunes Store
internationally.
Decibel are of course not the first to engage with
screen scores - previous work by Dannenberg [6], Clay
and Freeman [7], Kim-Boyle [8] and others have
examined the possibilities for real time score generation
on computers, and a variety of propriety score generators
for traditional notation are available, two examples being
INscore [9] and MaxScore [10]. However the use of
graphic notation - newly composed and extant - in screen
scores has been limited, and often tied to traditional
notation. The digital format offers a range of possibilities
to develop graphic notation practice - through the
incorporation of aspects such as colour, real time
generation,videoandinteractivity.Decibel’sscoreplayer
investigations have focused primarily on this area of
development,andinprovidinga‘readingmechanism’for
performance, rather than a score generation tool.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SCROLLING SCORE
PLAYER
The iTunes store describes the Decibel ScorePlayer as
softwarethatallows for network-synchronised scrolling
of proportional colour music scores on multiple iPads.
This is designed to facilitate the reading of scores
featuring predominantly graphic notation in rehearsal and
performance”[11]. It works best for music that needs to
becoordinatedina “timed” way, withproportionalpitch
structures. It is particularly useful for music that is
pulseless, or requires pulse to be removed from the
reading mechanism. The Decibel ScorePlayer is very
good at presenting scores that in the past would have
required a clock to coordinate multiple performers.
The Decibel ScorePlayer began as a bespoke solution
to the problem of reading certain graphic scores,
specifically those by author Cat Hope, who is a composer
and ensemble director of Decibel. In 2008, before
Decibel had began, Hope’s Kingdom Come (2008) for
laptop duet featured A graphic notation read from left to
right. The image was put in motion in a movie program,
and the performers read the score at the point just before
it passed off the screen. This was not particularly accurate
but provided an approximation of coordination that
facilitated the performance. The score had been created
on a computer, and did not exist in any real “physical”
dimension. In preparation for the first Decibel concert in
September 2009, Hope presented a score consisting of a
computer print out of ten landscape A4 pages stuck
together, a kind of coloured line graphic score for five
instruments - one of which was a turntable - again with
the problem of how to read the music in a coordinated
manner.
Figure 1.CatHope’sscoreIn The Cut (2009).
This piece was In The Cut (2009) for violin, cello, bass
clarinet, bass guitar and turntable with sub woofer and is
shown in Figure 1. The piece does not treat harmony or
meterinany ‘traditional’way,adoptinggraphicnotation
as a way to better reflect a proportional approach to
music composition [12].
A solution to the problem of reading In the Cut was
provided through the creation of a MaxMSP patch, where
the digitally created score file (a JPEG or PNG) was read
by passing under a vertical line over a pre prescribed
period of time, in the case of In The Cut, seven and a half
minutes, as shown in Figure 2. A control panel was built
to adjust specifications for each performance, and was
shown on the same screen as the score.
Figure 2. Lindsay Vickery’scontrol panel forthescore playerbuiltin
Max MSP.
60
This vertical line came to be known as the playhead,
referencing the tape head on tape players. Musicians
would play their part as it passed by the playhead,
providing an accurate way of coordinating the performers
together by reading the same part in the score at the same
time. The playhead was placed slightly in from the left
side of the score image, so that the performers could see
the material approaching the playhead in advance, but
also so a small amount of material already performed,
which would often assist in referencing the upcoming
material. The coloured parts provided easy identification
for the different performers, and the piece itself was
proportional in its representation of pitch across all the
instruments. The score presents each instruments part as a
long, slowly descending line, representing a very smooth
sound quality that uses glissandi to move between
different pitches. Simply, the score looks very much as it
sounds, and this is supported by a number of audio
spectrograms made of different performances, such as the
example provided in Figure 3.
Figure 3.SpectrogramofaperformanceofCatHope’sscoreIn The Cut
(2009) [13].
Vickery built the MaxMSP patch in consultation with
Hope and ensemble. It usually required the performers to
have access to a full version of MaxMSP to run the
program, though it was later made workable on Max
Runtime. A number of works were written for this
software player prototype, some for other ensembles, and
some without electronics. One example is Hope’s
Kuklinski’s Dream (2010) for instrumental trio, carving
knives and electronics. Like In The Cut, the work is
characterised by a lack of pulse, proportional pitch
relationships, colour representations for different
instruments and unusual instruments (in particular,
carving knives bowed and amplified). A notated
electronic part was also featured, required programming
by the ensemble’s electronics operator prior to
performance. Another work by Hope, Wolf at Harp
(2011) for four drum kits, used blocks of notation to
describe fields of activity on certain parts of percussion
kits, in this case the bass drum, cymbals and toms. The
scrolling nature of these scores effectively communicate
the composer’s intention a kind of pulseless music
characterized by long sustained sounds. They also allow
careful ensemble interactions enabling an accurate
reading of the proportional nature of the score.
READING AND NETWORKING
The first Decibel scrolling scores were projected onto a
screen in the performance space, to facilitate musicians
reading the score in performance. Whilst providing a
straightforward solution to coordinating a performance,
the performers mostly had their backs to the audience,
hardly a desirable performance presentation format. The
score was also a very predominant feature in the space.
Many audience members would comment on the nature
of the score and follow it intently during the performance.
Whilst this brought a new audience to our concerts
seekingto ‘understand’ thepracticeofnewmusic,it had
become more of a focus than the music itself. To
overcome this, Decibel member Stuart James added
networking capacity, so that multiple laptop computers
could be connected and coordinated over cabled Ethernet.
This meant that each performer had their own score
player coordinated with the others in the ensemble. The
patch was further developed by Vickery to fast-forward
to different parts of a score, and to slow the speed of the
piece for rehearsal purposes.
These developments made the software more workable
in rehearsal situations, and some fifteen works were
composed for this version of the player. The ensemble
alsobeganadaptingarangeofothercomposer’sscoresto
be read by the ensemble using the patch, including Earl
Brown’s December 1952 for open instrumentation and
Giacinto Scelsi’s Aitsi (1974) for piano and electronics
amongothers.Works from Percy Grainger’sFreeMusic
project, namely his Free Music No. 1 (1936) for four
Theremins and Free Music No. 2 (1937) for six
Theremins were put into the player. The pages of
Grainger’s hand drawn score were joined together and
scanned into a single file, the different parts traced over
in different colours and a playhead designed to include
the list of pitches represented by the undulating lines that
are a feature of this composition, as shown in Figure 4
[14].
61
Figure 4. Percy Grainger Free Music No. 1 (1931) adapted for the iPad
Decibel ScorePlayer. This image shows the playhead replaced by a
chromatic meter, and the scrub function along the bottom of the image,
with the time elapsed on the right.
Other screen scores were being developed within the
ensemble that included variations on the theme of
scrolling presentation. Vickery’s Ghosts of Departed
Quantities (2011) for bass flute, bass clarinet, cello,
keyboard and live electronics, for example, features
music notation that subtly appears and disappears to the
reader as it passes a playhead. Figure 5 shows the
presentation of two instrumental parts, bass flute and bass
clarinet. The musical information passes from left tor
right across the playhead.
Figure 5. Lindsay Vickery’s Ghosts of Departed Quantities (screen
shot) excerpt.
In Ghosts of Departed Quantities, each performer has
unique score activity, unlike Hope’s scores, which
required a tightly coordinated presentation of fixed
materials. Vickery’s screen scores presented materials
that would arrive in a different order and quantity each
time the piece was performed. Scores such as In the Cut
provide performers with the possibility of choosing
different starting notes for each performance, but require
them to maintain the same pitch relationships each time.
The score player patch continued to be adjusted and
developed to incorporate a range of new behaviors,
including changes in the direction of the score. Hope’s
Liminum (2010) features a score that musical material
goes backwards and forwards, and the play head jumps to
different parts in the score at certain points. Again, each
player’sscoreisindependentinthisprocess,whilstbeing
coordinated to start and finish together. In Juanita
Neilsen (2012)these‘jumps’ are coordinated tooccurin
random places, but coordinated with all players. These
scores have been categorized as ‘Variable Scrolling
Scores’. In a collaborative work between Hope and
Vickery, Talking Board (2011), circles traverse a larger
than the screen image, serving as the guide for musicians
to read said image, as shown in Figure 6. The
movements of the circles provide information to an
electronics operator for generative, interactive and
spatialised electronic parts. Talking Board was a radical
departure from the scrolling score format used on the
score player up until that point, completely breaking
away from the linear, left to right presentation and
reading of the score. The circles have a series of different
behaviors, including swarming, following, getting larger
and smaller, appearing and disappearing [15]. It also
required the transmission of data generated by
movements on the score to another sound generating
computer, signaling the need for the score player to send
more than score data, leading to investigations around the
incorporation of Open Sound Control (OSC).
62
Figure 6. Cat Hope and Lindsay Vickery, The Talking Board (2011),
screen shot of score excerpt. Here, two circles are visible - one at the top
of the score, the other to the left - each half off the screen.
EXTENDING THE PARADIGM
The score player project involved a number of other
developments for reading scores other than graphic
notations that are worth mentioning here. Automated
page turning and synchronised click tracks were adopted
and used in performances of pieces such as Thomas
Meadowcroft’s Pretty Lightweight (2001) and Lindsay
Vickery’s Night Fragments (2011). Mauricio Kagel‘s
Prima Vista (1967), is a piece designed to feature slides
shuffled and presented in a slide projector at random
order.This‘scoreplay’techniquetoowasautomatedina
MaxMSP patch.
Decibel also performed other MaxMSP generated
screen scores written specifically for the ensemble. Sam
Dunscombe’s West Park (2010) provided a range of
changing score slides that would connect with the live
electronic processing. In David Kim Boyle’s Point
Studies No. 1 (2011), a beautiful spiraling colour video
score produces sine tones as a result of the generative
activity in the patch producing the score [8]. Between
2010 and 2012, a number of pieces were written for the
scrolling score player by a range of composers, often
characterised by the inclusion of non traditional
instruments, that would otherwise be difficult to notate
using conventional notations.
From laptops to tablets
Despite moving to wireless networking in 2011, the
laptop presented a number of limitations for presentation
of the scores. Most performers laptops were used for
other purposes than score reading - leading to issues with
different operating systems, networking protocols and
personal settings. Despite the development of a network
utility developed in MaxMSP to monitor network
activity, the collection of IP address and constant
monitoring of who was on and off the network provided
ongoing problems. A European tour in late 2011 featuring
Decibel repertoire in the prototype score player provided
a turning point in the development of the score player. It
was decided to move the score player project to portable
tablet computers. Funding was secured in early 2012 to
purchase five iPads and to develop the score player on the
iOS platform.
Decibel members Aaron Wyatt, Malcolm Riddoch and
Stuart James set about developing what was to be called
the Decibel ScorePlayer for iPad in early 2012, and the
first release was issued on the Apple App store later that
year. This release come with packaged with two scores
each by Hope and Vickery, and provided a link to a free
desktop application, the Decibel Score Creator,
developed by Wyatt to enable users to create their own
scores in the format required for uploading to the player,
a .dsz file. The Decibel Score Creator is where important
elements of the piece are assembled and stored into the
file, and the interface is shown in Figure 7. In addition to
naming the piece by title and composer, the length of the
piece, the position of the play head, extra (separated out)
parts and any instruction notes for performance can be
added. Any instructions would appear in a drop down
menu on the ScorePlayer when the piece is selected from
a menu listing all the compositions in the player. These
elements all constitute the .dsz file
63
Figure 7. The Score Creator interface built by Aaron Wyatt and
designed by Decibel composers in conjunction with him.
The iPad Decibel ScorePlayer provided a number of
benefits over the laptop version. A much easier
networking facility, native to iOS meant each iPad user
could join any network agreed on by the ensemble, and
users could see who else was on the network at any time
using a network tab [16]. Once .dsz files are created,
users can add scores to the Player by uploading them in
the sharing facility of iTunes, as seen in Figure 8.
Figure 8. Screenshot the sharing facility in iTunes, showing the Decibel
score player (red for testing version, black for current commercially
available version) and the place to add scores.
Whilst the lengths of each piece were set in the Score
Creator, they could be altered for rehearsal purposes, and
would reset to the original speed if the score was re-
opened. A scrub button along the bottom of the screen
provided easy access to any part of the score, and an
information tab provided a drop down note for any
instructions required for each individual score, as in
Figure 9.
A User Guide is provided on the App to explain how it
works, how to set up network, and how to create your
own scores for the App. This includes a contact email for
any enquiries or bug fix suggestions to be made, and
point the user to a web site where instructional videos are
provided [17]. On the iPad ScorePlayer, you can choose
to see the score as a whole, or as individual parts. This
function was first used on Hope’s piece Juanita Nielsen
for two violas, two cellos, piano, electric guitar and
electronics, at the premiere performance of the Decibel
ScorePlayer in September 2012 at the Perth Institute of
Contemporary Arts. It became evident in rehearsals of
Juanita Nielsen that the complex nature of the diagrams
in the piece required magnification to be read accurately,
and so the idea of providing separate parts was born.
These can be added in the score creator in addition to a
master score. The parts are coordinated with each other,
even when you use the finger drag up and down on the
screen to change between different parts.
Figure 9. The‘UserGuide’popup,asseenoverthelistofworksinthe
player (screen shot).
64
Figure 10. Hope’sJuanita Nielsen. The top image shows the full score
in the player. The lower image shows one part - in the same point of the
piece, visible. The playhead is in the middle of the screen as the score
goes in different directions. I red light in the top right flashes twice as a
warning that the direction is about to change.
Figure 10 shows one of the parts at the same part in
and next to the master score on the Decibel score player.
Early testing versions of the Decibel ScorePlayer were
deployed using a program entitled Test Flight [18], which
enabled Decibel to test new developments to the App.
The composers for the ScorePlayer could make a
standard scrolling score and parts in the Score Creator
and test these in the player themselves. Whilst all the
scrolling scores for the prototype player were adapted for
the iPad player, new types of scores continued to be
createdforthePlayer,withthegroupusinga‘developer’
version of the App as new works, and updates to the
player, could be tested before updates to the App on the
iTunes store would be made.
Some scores were designed to read up and down,
rather than left to right. This is useful when an instrument
or group of instruments needs to be referred to spatially
in the score. The shift can be done by simply locking the
rotation on the iPad and turning it to a portrait, instead of
landscape, view, so the score flows upwards, rather than
from left to right. The Hope’s piece Broken Approach
(2014) for solo percussionist is read across a horizontal
playhead, reflecting the spatial arrangement of the
different percussion instruments in the performers set up,
and is seen in Figure 11.Likewise,Hope’spianoworks
Chunk (2010) and Fourth Estate (2014) use the playhead
to reflect the horizontal presentation of the piano
keyboard to the performer, the latter providing a shuffling
mechanism that presents the composition differently each
time, with eight different score images joining seamlessly
in a different order each time the piece is opened on the
ScorePlayer, using a ‘tiling’ approach for the different
images.Thesescoreshavebeennamed‘verticalscrolling
scores’.
Figure 11. Broken Approach (screen shot). Note the presentation of the
kit on the horizontal access, which is how it should be read.
Score Materials
The scores that can profit from being read in the Decibel
ScorePlayer on the iPad are quite diverse. These include
pieces that feature some elements of traditional notation,
suchasJames Rushford’s Espalier (2012) (also featured
at the premiere concert of the ScorePlayer), featuring a
stave and pitched note heads throughout, as shown in
Figure 12.
65
Figure 12. James Rushford’s Espalier in the Decibel ScorePlayer
(screen shot). Note the times on the top of the score - rendered
superfluous by the ScorePlayer.
Figure 13. Lindsay Vickery's Silent Revolution (screenshot) showing
pictorial elements that are not read literally as part of the score.
An interesting development has been the use of
pictorial imagery in the scores. Vickery’s Silent
Revolution (2013) includesimages that are not ‘read’ by
the musicians as such, but still provide useful information
to the interpretation of the notations, as shown in Figure
13. These scores have come to be known as ‘poctorial’.
Hope’s ‘Miss Fortune X’ (2012) uses the photocopy
‘noise’ from an old copy of a model aircraft plan as
notation for radio static, as shown in Figure 14.
A variety of techniques have been engaged to generate
the actual scores images - from Computer Assisted
Design (CAD) software in Joe Stawarz’s Cells (2012),
coloured pencils in Mace Francis’s When Traffic Rises
(2012)andshadesofgraphiteinLyndonBlue’sDecabell
(2012). Chris Cobilis’s Forever Alone Together Or
(2012) features freehand text and interspersed with hand
drawn colour shapes and written pitch suggestions, as
shown in Figure 15.
Figure 14.Hope’sMiss Fortune X score excerpt, (screen shot) showing
the first issue Decibel ScorePlayer’s welcomescreenforthepiece.This
information was later replaced with an information dropdown tab. Note
thecopy‘noise’ontherighthandsideoftheimage.
Figure 15. Chris Cobilis Forever Alone Together Or score excerpt
(screen shot). Showing chords, notes and textural information.
Cobilis is an experimental electronics/singer
songwriter who does not read or write traditional
notation, and who created a work by recording it on a
homerecorder then‘drawingit’outovertime.Hiswork
provides an excellent example of the wide variety of
approaches to the design of scores that are featured in the
Decibel Score Player, and potential it offers musicians
who do not read or write conventional music notation.
ONGOING DEVELOPMENTS
The ScorePlayer paradigm has served as a springboard
for other works. Decibel celebrated the centenary year of
John Cage’s birth by creating a score player for their
‘Complete John Cage Variations Project’ in 2012. This
began as a laptop prototype, but was soon adapted to the
iPad as a stand alone App. The score player involved the
development of score generators for Variations I, II, III,
66
IV, V and VI and packaging them with the remaining two
Variations into the John Cage Variations App, in
consultation with Cage’s publishers, Peters Edition, and
the John Cage Foundation in New York. Scheduled for
release in conjunction with the groups recordings of the
eight Variations on US label MODE in 2015, the App
takes aspects of the Decibel ScorePlayer and applies them
to the Variations, creating graphic scores by following
and automating Cage’s detailed processes. The result is
very accurate and easy to read notations for each of the
Variations, an example of which can be found in Figure
16. This example shows the graphic representation
selected by Decibel of the data generated according to
Cage’sspecificationsaroundthe placement of dots, lines
and other shapes. 1 It also shows the similarity of the
presentation on the iPad to the Decibel Score Player.
Figure 16. John Cage Variation 1 score excerpt (screen shot) showing
the graphic representation that scrolls in the Decibel ‘The Complete
JohnCageVariations’ScorePlayer.
Australian sound poet Amanda Stewart’s Vice Versa
(2001) is a one-page text for live performances. Decibel
adapted the work as a variable scrolling score by
typesetting the text in the score player, facilitating
reading from different directions, at different times. A
range of differently coloured parts are provided, and
occasionally text would appear scrubbed over, leaving the
instruments to play the resulting shapes. Figure 17 shows
the original score in the player, beside and a screen shot
of how scrubbed over version. Experiments such as this
one highlight the number of ways the simple reading
1 A more detailed discussion of the implentatoin and the other Cage
Variations can be found in a paper in the 2013 Malaysian Music Journal
[19] and papers by Lindsay Vickery [20] and Cat Hope [21].
device of the playhead can be used to create readable
scores for different kinds of composition.
Figure 17. Amanda Stewart’sViceversa (excerpt screen shot). The top
image shows the score part (a different colour for each performer. The
lowerimageshows the‘scrubbed out’text forinstrumentstoplay.The
image goes left to right, and right to left in the player.
There are ongoing updates and bug fixes to the Decibel
ScorePlayer, but the most recent developments have
included the ability to create score files that embed a full
quality audio track into the .dsz format, opening the
possibilities for a huge range of works for instrument and
tape that could be adapted for the Decibel ScorePlayer.
Vickery created a score player for his 2009 performance
of Denis Smalley’s piece Clarinet Threads (1985) for
clarinet and tape that enabled the score to be read
accurately alongside playback [22]. Hope’s Signal
Directorate (2014) for bass instrument/s and prerecorded
sounds, prototyped in MaxMSP by Vickery, is the first
piece to use the iPad ScorePlayer to deliver the score
synchronized with audio playback from within the iPad,
and contained within the .dsz file. The Score Creator will
67
be updated to enable the most recent facilities enabled by
the player. The next release will feature OSC
compatibility and extra options for the Talking Board
circle reading paradigm, allowing users to insert their
own image and select the number of circles required for a
performance, as shown in Figure 18. OSC will enable the
data required to drive the electronics in this piece to be
sent to another computer running the audio manipulation
software.
Figure 18. The ‘circleselector’forThe Talking Board, available when
pressing the options tab.
In 2012, the first survey of Australian graphic music
notation was curated by Cat Hope in two Australian
cities, and featured a number of the scores for the
scrolling score player presented as movies on a screen in
a gallery [23]. These movie representations of scrolling
scores are a fixed alternative for the reading of the scores,
when a single projection is desirable. Synchronised with a
live performance, they can also provide useful
illustrations to how the works may be performed.
However, in for larger ensembles or more complex parts,
it is sometimes difficult to see the required level of detail
and no variation of speed is easily possible.
CONCLUSIONS
Without any marketing support other than a few
Facebook posts to the DecibelNewMusic page, and
showcasing though tours, the Decibel ScorePlayer has
sold 140 copies to date at AUD$2.99, not including the
free copies the Decibel composers can access for the
performances of their works. A visit to Malaysia by
Decibel performing the ‘John Cage Variations Project’
using the bespoke application brought into sharp focus
the need to make an Android version of the application,
as Android appears to dominate the tablet computer
market in large areas of Asia. However, funding for this
development is yet to be found.
The potential for the Decibel ScorePlayer is
substantial. There has been a recent resurgence of
interest in graphic notation with some detailed
examinations of practice [24] [25] [26] and an awareness
of animated notations disseminated by online services
such as YouTube and Vimeo. Yet it is quire remarkable
how few of these developments engage with the full
potential of digital representation. Further negotiations
with publishers could result in a number of approaches
for digital publication of extant works, and currently any
composer can put their work in the ScorePlayer and
publish it.
Research into the impact of reading different kinds of
screen scores has recently commenced. Using eye-
tracking equipment, Vickery has been comparing
traditional paper notations and the different kinds of score
formats developed in Decibel [27], leading to detailed
examinations of the way readers process colour and
movement in music notation.
The Decibel ScorePlayer embraces the possibilities of
colour and graphic notations in digital score reproduction,
as well as the interactive possibilities inherent in digital
score creation and composition. Whilst currently a
relatively simple device, the possibilities for its
development are considerable. It does not claim to solve
problems for all types of graphic notation, but makes
certain types more efficient to read. Screen scores are in
their infancy, and the way we understand colour and
shape as musical information, as well as our ability to
process moving information on computer screens requires
further investigation [28]. The Decibel ScorePlayer
represents the potential of group projects where
composers, musicians, programmers and music curators
can work together to extend the possibilities of available
technologies.
68
Acknowledgments
Decibel new music ensemble consists of Cat Hope
(artistic director, flutes, composer), Lindsay Vickery
(composer, reeds, programmer), Stuart James (composer,
piano, drum set, electronics, networking, programming),
Aaron Wyatt (viola, violin and iOS programming),
Tristen Parr (Cello, testing), Louise Devenish
(percussion, testing). Lindsay Vickery created the first
score player prototype. Stuart James built the Network
Utilityand leadtheteamfor theDecibel‘CompleteJohn
Cage Variations’ ScorePlayer. Aaron Wyatt is the
programmer the iOS iPad Decibel ScorePlayer. The
Decibel ScorePlayer project, and the Complete John Cage
Variations Project were funded with assistance from
Edith Cowan University.
REFERENCES
[1] C. Hope (Ed), Audible Designs, PICA Press, 2011.
p. 6
[2] Decibel (n.d.). Decibel CV
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(accessed 24 Jan, 2015).
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[4] L. Vickery, “Screening theSco re”in C. Hope, (ed)
Audible Designs, PICA Press, 2011, p. 86.
[5] H. Smith and R.T. Dean, Practice-led research,
research-led practice in the creative arts, Edinburgh
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[6] R. B. Dannenberg, “Music representation issues,
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[7] A.Clay, & J. Freeman,J. “Preface: Virtual Scores
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[8] D. Kim-Boyle, “Real-time Score Generation for
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[9] D. Fober,Y.Orlarey,S.Letz,“INscore:anEnviron-
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[10] Maxscore for MAX/msp and Abelton Live.
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ibel-scoreplayer/id622591851?mt=8
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Journal, Murdoch University, 2012.
[13] C. Hope, A. Wyatt, l. Vickery, “Reading Free
Music”Australasian Musicological Jounal, 2015, in
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[14] L. Vickery, "The Evolution of Notational Inno-
vations from the Mobile Score to the Screen Score,"
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[15] C. Hope, L. Vickery, “Screen Scores: New Media
MusicManuscripts”, International Computer Music
Conference. Monty Adkins, Ben Isaacs. Hudders-
field, UK. The International Computer Music
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[16] A. Wyatt, C.Hope,L.Vickery,S.James,“Animated
Music Notation on the iPad (Or: Music stands just
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[17] The Decibel Score Player
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[18] Test Flight,
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[19] C. Hope, L. Vickery, A. Wyatt, S. James,
“Mobilising John Cage: The Design and Generation
of Score Creators for the Complete John Cage
Variations I - VIII”.Malaysian Music Journal, vol.
2 no. 1, 2013, p. 34-45.
[20] L.Vickery,C.Hope,S.James,“Digitaladaptionsof
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tion, 2012, p. 426-432.
[21] C. Hope, S. James & L. Vickery, “New digital
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[23] C. Hope (Ed.), Drawn from Sound, Tura New
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69
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My practice as both musician (drums and percussion) and spatial designer (architect) provides a unique perspective from which to explore cross-domain design research. Through a sustained critical enquiry, I explore a continuum of practice that reveals rich territories for investigation within and across the musical domain, the spatial domain and a nascent ‘musico-spatial’ domain. The research follows two main trajectories: an exploration of the ‘infinite art’ (Berliner, 2009) of improvisation and, working synergistically with this, an exploration of cross-domain representation (XDR). I have based initial research investigations on the development of a methodology of performance of large numbers of drum-based improvisations across representative musical contexts. Curation of these hundreds of musical artefacts reveals the complex polyrhythmic ‘referent’ (Pressing, 1987) patterns and phrases that define my ‘polyrhythmic idiolect’ (Garner, 2017). Alongside improvisation as methodology, I explored XDR through the development of a flexible parametric framework for a three-dimensional spatial drum notation (3D-SDN) that represents the dynamic note events-in-time of polyrhythmic drumming through a notational representation based on the spatiality of the drum kit and informed by the principles of architectural representation. The ‘affordances’ (Norman, 2002) of the 3D-SDN enhance understandings of polyrhythmic drumming, thus mediating a theoretical musico-perspectival hinge between the music and the understanding of music through notation. From this foundation, I conduct design research investigations into the XDR of curated drum improvisations as spatial prototypes. Through this series of parametric workflows, I reveal a capacity to generate complex and intricate spatial representations of improvised drumming as polyrhythmic space. These spatialisations act to inform a cross-domain creative practice, but also provide further affordances for the understanding of the complexities and nuances of polyrhythmic drumming. These affordances of the 3D-SDN and spatial prototypes are tested on my own drumming improvisation and in a pilot study using a cohort of drummers of varying styles and expertise. As a musico-spatial cross-domain practitioner, I explore modalities of drum-based musical improvisation through a series of experimental Digital DrumScape musical pieces and discover the concept of augmented musical improvisation. Moving beyond the ‘known world’ of drumming (Bruford, 2015), I develop new spatial design processes through ‘spatial improvisation’ where the digital drum kit is employed as a generative design tool for the actuation of dynamic note events-in-time and space. Adapting improvisation as methodology for design research, I reveal a capacity for the real-time design of polyrhythmic space through spatial-thinking-in-action as thinking in space while playing in time where time becomes a critical determinant of spatial design output. I bring these two trajectories of design research together as musico-spatial improvisation in and of polyrhythmic space through a virtual drumming environment (VDE). This integration of live drumming performance, virtual instrumentation and virtual reality forms the foundation for a new augmented musico-spatial improvisational practice. This dynamic musico-spatial environment forms a counterpoint to static cross-domain representations and, together, these provide a repertoire of workflows to inform cross-domain design research through analytical, creative and speculative practice.
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The Max Maestro-an animated music notation system-was developed so as to enable the exploration of artistic possibilities for composition and performance practices within the field of contemporary art music, more specifically, to enable a large crowd of non-professional performers regardless of their musical background to perform fixed music compositions written in multiple individual parts. Furthermore, the Max Maestro was developed in order to facilitate concert hall performances where non-professional performers could be synchronised with an electronic music part. This paper presents the background, the content and the artistic ideas behind the Max Maestro system and gives two examples of live concert hall performances at which the Max Maestro was used. An artistic research approach with an auto ethnographic method was adopted for the study. This paper contributes new knowledge to the field of animated music notation.
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The slow but steady shift away from printed text into digital media has not yet modified the working habits of chamber music practitioners. If most instrumentalists still heavily rely on printed scores, audiences increasingly access notated music online, with printed scores synced to an audio recording on youtube for instance. This paper proposes to guide the listener and/or the performer with a cursor scrolling on the page with INScore, in order to examine the consequences of representing time in this way as opposed to traditional bars and beats notation. In addition to its score following interest for pedagogy and analysis, the networking possibilities of today’s ubiquitous technologies reveal interesting potentials for works in which the presence of a conductor is required for synchronization between performers and/or with fixed media (film or tape). A Raspberry Pi-embedded prototype for animated/distributed notation is presented here as a score player (such as the Decibel ScorePlayer, or SmartVox), in order to send and synchronize mp4 scores to any browser capable device connected to the same WIFI network. The corpus will concern pieces edited at BabelScores, an online library for contemporary classical music. The BabelScores pdf works, composed in standard engraving softwares, will be animated using INScore and video editors, in order to find strategies for animation or dynamic display of the unfolding of time, originally represented statically on the page.
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In an attempt to uncover the strengths and limitations of web technologies for sound and music notation applications, driven by aesthetic goals and prompted by the lack of logistic means, the author has developed a system for animated scores and sound diffusion using browser-enabled mobile devices, controlled by a host computer running Max and a web server. Ease of deployment was seen as a desirable feature in comparison to native application computer-based systems – such as Comprovisador, a system which has lent many features to the one proposed herein. Weaknesses were identified motivating the design of mitigation and adaptation strategies at the technical and the compositional levels, respectively. The creation of music for a multidisciplinary performance entitled GarB’urlesco has served as a case study to assess the effectiveness of those strategies. The present text is an extended version of a paper presented at CMMR 2019, in Marseille.
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This paper examines the screening of music notations and the impact of this configuration in a live music performance situation. Before the development of graphical computing, Traditional music notation, was rarely shared with the anyone other than other musicians, composers and analysts; let alone displayed during the performance. However, some composers experiment with scores and their visual presence in performance by employing automated 'score-players' or actual films specifically developed to be interpreted by musicians. This paper raises some questions and possibilities for this new way of sharing musical qualities of composition and performance.
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the screening of music notations and the impact of this configuration in a live music performance situation. Before the development of graphical computing, Traditional music notation, was rarely shared with the anyone other than other musicians, composers and analysts; let alone displayed during the performance. However, some composers experiment with scores and their visual presence in performance by employing automated ‗score-players' or actual films specifically developed to be interpreted by musicians. This paper raises some questions and possibilities for this new way of sharing musical qualities of composition and performance.
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Western Australian new music ensemble Decibel have devised a software-based tool for creating realisations of the score for John Cage's Variations I and II. In these works Cage had used multiple transparent plastic sheets with various forms of graphical notation, that were capable of independent positioning in respect to one another, to create specifications for the multiple unique instantiation of these works. The digital versions allow for real-time generation of the specifications of each work, quasi-infinite exploration of diverse realisations of the works and transcription of the data created using Cage's methodologies into proportionally notated scrolling graphical scores.
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INScore is an open source framework for the design of interactive, augmented, live music scores. Augmented music scores are graphic spaces providing representa-tion, composition and manipulation of heterogeneous and arbitrary music objects (music scores but also im-ages, text, signals...), both in the graphic and time do-mains. INScore includes also a dynamic system for the representation of the music performance, consid-ered as a specific sound or gesture instance of the score, and viewed as signals. It integrates an event based in-teraction mechanism that opens the door to original uses and designs, transforming a score as a user in-terface or allowing a score self-modification based on temporal events. This paper presents the system fea-tures, the underlying formalisms, and introduces the OSC based scripting language.
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This article examines the evolution of music notational practices from avant-garde-era experiments in ‘mobility’ to the advent of the digital ‘screen score’. It considers the varied goals of the composers who initiated these developments and the dissonance between these goals and the practical possibilities actually afforded by the paper score.The advent of graphical computing is charted along with the consequent expansion of possibilities afforded by screening the score from a platform that also provides the potential for performer coordination, sound synthesis and transformation. The performative, interactive and formal implications of these possibilities are considered.