A Graphic Musical Score (R13+)

I’m looking foward to going to the COMA Summer School in August 2015 to enjoy a week of music-making and listenings as I have done since 2006. When I joined COMA it was an acronym for Contemporary Music for Amateurs (which is what I am) – the name has been changed to Contemporary Music for All.

Perhaps we’re all amateurs really… The need to go back into Beginner’s Mind…

Enjoying the challenge of concocting musical scores (mostly for my own amusement since they usually remain unperformed), this year, amongst other things, I responded to the following challenge:-

A project to consist of ‘…imaginative works of around 3 to 8 minutes duration for soprano voice and cello… fresh, exploratory, experimental approaches to this combination of voice and cello are welcome, for example, non-conventional notation, unusual vocal techniques and speech. Works that could be convincingly performed by competent amateur musicians will be especially welcome…’

I chose five of my own haiku to make into a graphic score. I tested out an early version of the score with a group of enthusiastic amateurs I have joined in with for nearly ten years – they are used to my graphic scores. The task of converting the early version into a score for soprano and cello was nicely challenging mostly to do with reducing the scope from several instruments to one.

Here are the guidelines for the players:-


These are the haiku which were chosen for their sad meditative quality and possible musical interpretation:-

curtain in a breeze –
the long tide
flowing into night

a gardenful
of moonlight – trees
bent into shadow

into the dark this night –
each one of us
our own candle

my reflection
in the midnight window
looks at me reflecting

final words
under a canopy
of sunlit clematis

And here are the final versions of the scores:-





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4 thoughts on “A Graphic Musical Score (R13+)

  1. I can see that you’ll have fun…… A final homage to Ed perhaps? Extremely poignant from where I sit. As a second hand second sop, I may well take up the challenge of interpretation. I just need to find a chellist. Wonderful combination of the two “voices”. I feel a lot of chest and belly voice coming through with deep resonance. lovely.

    The notes were really helpful.

    I don’t know why but it brought to mind seeing MacBeth at the SwanStratford, years ago, where there was a fantastic moment when simultaneous with the words “is this a dagger I see before me” (spoken by the fabulous and extraordinary Antony Sher), a percussionist played the symbol with a cello bow and made the most chilling sound I’ve heard ina long time. All sorts of overtones and resonances coming out.

    Absolutely unrelated, but none the less brought to mind. a similar thinking outside the box perhaps as the whole of that particular production was.

    Quite magical as I’m sure your peice will be when performed. Have a lovely time.


  2. I can’t read a bit of music (no less perform or compose it), but I certainly appreciated the colorful artistry of the scores, Colin. And I enjoyed reading the five haikus – four with nighttime images, and the last with one of sunlight, a progression of sorts, perhaps? Enjoy your week at COMA!


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