Who & How: George Crumb

•George Crumb; alternative notations of music
American composer of contemporary music. He is a noted explorer of timbres and alternative forms of notation.
Below you can see a distortion of the typical sheet music, based upon numerology or the result of graphic layout – usually symmetrical or cyclical structures.
george-crumb-makrokosmos-ii-12
Above is George Crumbs “Agnus Dei”, as you can see the melody lines the cirumference and the more intricate solo’s make up the centre of the symbol.

In an interview with Robert Shuffett (Peters Corp.1986)* Crumb answers two particular questions about his notation:

RS: Your calligraphy and careful notation have occasioned much commentary over the years. Would you comment on notation in general?

GC: I endeavour to make my own notation as simple and conventional as possible, since I want to communicate clearly and economically all the necessary information to the performer. If a score is a “book of seven seals,” then the composer is working against his own best interests. Of course notation can also be imaginative and provocative – I feel that all good music looks beautiful on the page.

RS: One visually striking aspect of your scores would be your “symbolic notations” – those representations of spirals, circular shapes, and so forth.

GC: Every composer should be permitted an occasional flight of whimsy!”

 

A humorous and enlightening attitude inspires me to do something similar in my development. Testing out the distortion of your typical sheet music would be something I’m interested in, I also believe if each part was distorted according to the mood the outcome would show the songs expression as well as the original data.

One Comment

  1. what is this piece? Is it the Agnus Dei? Is that a CND symbol? Why? Research is about scratching down into a subject, becoming more curious about it until it becomes slightly obsessional…… Dig further!

    is what the composer says about his work important?

    In an interview with Robert Shuffett (Peters Corp.1986)* Crumb answers two particular questions about his notation:

    RS: Your calligraphy and careful notation have occasioned much commentary over the years. Would you comment on notation in general?

    GC: I endeavour to make my own notation as simple and conventional as possible, since I want to communicate clearly and economically all the necessary information to the performer. If a score is a “book of seven seals,” then the composer is working against his own best interests. Of course notation can also be imaginative and provocative – I feel that all good music looks beautiful on the page.

    RS: One visually striking aspect of your scores would be your “symbolic notations” – those representations of spirals, circular shapes, and so forth.

    GC: Every composer should be permitted an occasional flight of whimsy!”

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