Empirical studies of ConDiS Conducting (part2)

The extended flute technique notation is based on the notation Kaija Saariaho uses in her compositions and has somewhat become a universal way to notate this kind of flute playing. I like using it since it is directly evolved from the traditional notation system and therefore a logical extension causing the performer as little needless extra steps and makes reading the music more “natural”. It is always a question how far composer should go when notating his/her compositions. In the sixties, there was a “period when every new piece had to have its own notational system”. (Dick, Robert. “Notes.” Notes, vol. 46, no. 1, 1989, pp. 236–237., www.jstor.org/stable/940783).Since then “…there has been a sensible trend toward directness in notation and its plethora of notations discarded in favor of traditional noteheads with simple, direct instructions printed in the plain language above them. (Dick, Robert. “Notes.” Notes, vol. 46, no. 1, 1989, pp. 236–237., www.jstor.org/stable/940783.)
I must confess that I do agree with Robert Dick that there is a limitation how “innovative” one comes when comes to music notation. The classical notation has survived all sorts of new musical trends or styles and does not need any drastic changes. Therefore it is my intention to use the classical notation system to its utmost, adding “approved” external notation and plain written text.

Excerpt from the flute part of Kuuki no Sukima 1st. movement

As shown in the above excerpt from the flute part of the 1st. movement of “Kuuki no Sukima” the use of extended flute notational technique that I use here can be traced to Kaija Saariaho’s notation (Laconisme de l’Aile, 1982 ) and even further back to Luciano Berio’s proportional notation first used in his work Sequenza I for flute (1958). It is worth noting that Berio originally intention was to use precise and detailed, metered notation. When he found out that the conventional notation was a way to complex for the flutist he decided to use proportional notation. (Benedict Weisser, Notational Practice in Contemporary Music: A Critique of Three Compositional Models (Luciano Berio, John Cage, and Brian Fernehough) (Ph.D. dissertation, City University of New York, 1998), pp. 37-76. In an interview with composer Benedict Weisser Berio stated:

Usually, I´m not concerned with notation itself. When I´m concerned, that means there´s a problem. The issue of notation comes out, at least in my own musical perspective, when there is a dilemma, when there is a problem to be solved. And that pushes me to find solutions that maybe I was never pushed to find before.

Berio later revised the notation and that version published by Universal Edition in 1992.

Once again the importance of simplicity and relation to the classical notation heritage. For the same reason, I found that the extended note writing of composer and double bass player Stefano Scodanibbio for Double Bass useful and appealing. In my first version of Kuuki no Sukima I copied his notation more or less to get the same or similar sound that he was using.

During that process, a very interesting discussion came up about copyright. It would be possible to write a full-time dissertation on the subject but in short, the discussion was about copyright to a sound or sonority. Let´s look at one example.

Stefano Scodanibbio – E/Statico

in this example taken from Stefano Scodanibbio´s composition e/statico for solo Double Bass. Here the open string E should be plucked with a right hand and thereafter there is a knock on the instrument with the left hand. Finally, the bow is put on the E string with the wood of the bow touching the strings while moving the bow vertically upwards from the bridge to the fingerboard.

To get that combination of sounds there is only one way. The E string is the lowest string on the Double Bass so if you want a very low pizzicato on an open string the E string is the only, knocking sound on the instrument is a knocking sound, and striking the wood of the bow down the open string is an sonic effect that only can be done this way. Therefore I do look upon these short combined fragments of three distinguished sounds that should only be notated like that there to say if you are using Stefano´s notation system.

I transcribed Stefano´s notation system to the other string instruments with a mixed feeling of success. Since things that work very well on the Double Bass do not work at all on the smaller once there was a hectic work ahead. With an assistance from Halldis and especially contrabassist Michael Francis Duch we managed during that day to go through most of Stefano´s extended bass technique plus much more. With assistance from flutist Trine Knutsen, the extended flute technique notation was realized and adjusted to Trine suggestions as well as she contributed some sonic alternatives.  With assistance from percussionist Espen Aalberg, we looked at extended percussion technique its writing and sounding. This whole section with the performers, all members of Trondheim Sinfonietta and NTNU was video recorded and soon to be added to this article.

A long working day with conductor Halldis Rønning and selected performers of the Trondheim Sinfonietta left me with fewer uncertainties, fewer “unanswered questions”. (Quotation to a title to a musical work by the American composer Charles Ives).”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *