Notation in Contemporary Music: Composition, Performance, Improvisation


18 - 20 October, 2013, Goldsmiths University of London

Hosted by: Contemporary Music Research Unit (CMRU)

This symposium proposes to bring together composers, researchers and practitioners working in contemporary music, and musicologists studying the influence notation has had for composers and performers.

From the problematics of the score as music’s sound-image to the the (im)possibility of transcription, contemporary music has been challenging the role of notation on various levels. Several responses such as non-standard formats of open works, graphic or text-based scores, have today become standard practice. To the extent that new notation seeks to problematize traditional ideologies of music performance, the symposium seeks to address the limits that current notational practices wish to explore, and to throw open possibilities for future endeavours. As such, post-WWII approaches are considered to be part of standard performance practice, although past practices can prove fruitful today in unexpected ways. Especially after the deconstructive turn in philosophy and the arts, music notation has seen novel interpretations, which are particularly welcome, although the symposium is aimed at accommodating all current directions. Recent developments in composition, aesthetics, technology, or performance can inform this gathering, which hopes to constitute a space of thinking today’s notation at the intersection of current research in such fields.

Themes might include, but are not limited to:

• Graphic notation

• Relationship between notation and improvisation

• New complexity

• Aesthetics, philosophy, and notation

• Visual music

• Interpretation

• Word scores

Our keynote speakers are:

Richard Barrett, Institute of Sonology, Den Haag

Dr James Saunders, Bath Spa University

Dr Sam Hayden, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 

Keynote Performance: FURT (Richard Barrett, Paul Obermayer)

Facebook page (open to public) dedicated to the symposium here

Twitter: #NCMS2013

To download a pdf booklet of the extracts, click Notation booklet


Professor Roger Redgate

Dr Dimitris Exarchos

Alistair Zaldua

Tom Mudd