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Interview of Pascal Pariaud – English Abstract

The text of the article is extracted from the recording of an interview of Pascal Pariaud realized in November 2016 by Jean-Charles François and Nicolas Sidoroff. Pascal Pariaud is a clarinetist, and he teaches at the National School of Music at Villeurbanne (a suburb of Lyon, France). He supervises workshops in which the practice of graphic scores is an important component. He is a member of the improvisation trio PFL Traject and of the collective PaaLabRes.

The author describes in detail practices developed with various students’ groups with the graphic scores by Fred Frith over several years. Each of these scores proposes a different approach to a particular sonic matter. The students are also asked to develop in parallel their own graphic scores.

Several projects involving graphic scores have been developed outside the music school that have taken place in urban settings : children making music accompanying street theatre, music designed by pupils in a primary school for a film, a work by Llorenç Barber with all the bell towers of Lyon sounding together with the participation of advanced students.

The relations between graphic scores and improvisation are explored in several pedagogical contexts. Their role in the recent history of experimental music is stressed. The use of recording students performance and listening back is explained. The special case of the clarinet class with a single timbre available to interpret graphic scores is addressed. The practice of “Sound Painting” is critically analyzed. Several examples of adding sound to a film are given.

In general the author in his exposition of his pedagogical practices explains how he considers all the complex issues related to the use of graphic scores.

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Reflections on Graphic Scores – English Abstract

Reflections on Graphic Scores

Etienne Lamaison (2017)

English Abstract

This article is a development of Etienne Lamaison’s doctoral thesis “L’interprétation des partitions graphiques non-procédurales” (Insituto de Investigção e formação Avançada, Evora, Portugal, 2013). The article is in two parts: a) “The Relations between visual and sound domains”; b) “The Graphic Scores”.

The comparison between artistic domains is a major preoccupation in Western thought. While there is a strict separation of the disciplines, for many artists the sources of inspiration for their imagination may often cross over boundaries. In recent time hybrid forms between artistic realms have been developed and many terminologies belong to two or more domains (color, timbre, nuance, harmony). However all the attempts to develop machines that would translate sound into visual forms or vice-versa have not been very successful. Some artists have developed ways of comparing parameters in one realm to their counterparts in their own realm (Klee and Kandinsky on the temporality of a tableau, Ferneyhough on visual images escaping the unfolding of time, the blank space and Cage’s silence). Colors are often used as code for timbre, visual spaces with temporality. In the relation visual plane / sound plane, notions of simultaneity and polyphony are explored. The concept of density can also produce useful comparison (Xenakis). The notion of splash, of touch, especially in impressionist painting can be related with vibrations.

The definition of “graphic score” is particularly difficult to make in view of the fact that most of them do not constitute a viable notational system. Five forms of graphic scores are presented:

  1. Propositions that define a succession of events.
  2. Propositions in which the total duration of the performance is fixed by the composer.
  3. Propositions that are orientated towards pitch organization (registers, boxes with indicated pitches).
  4. Mixed scores combining graphic elements with standard notation.
  5. Propositions that are strictly non-procedural (with no specified ways of interpreting the visual elements).

Each of the five categories is accompanied with examples of graphic scores. The author explains his own approach to the non-procedural idea (the fifth category) and offers different methodologies for interpreting these various written forms, similar to those of improvisation. Historical and philosophical perspectives of experimental notational practices since 1945 are provided. In the conclusion, Lamaison stresses the necessity for institutions to include more development of the interpretation of graphic scores in their curriculum.

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Encounter with Xavier Saïki – English Abstract

Encounter between Xavier Saïki


Samuel Chagnard & Jean-Charles François



Discussion about the project developed by the Ishtar Collective on Treatise by Cornelius Cardew

English Abstract

The collective Ishtar has evolved from having a large number of members of dancers, performers, musicians, actors (1993-1999) to a more limited group of musicians interested in free jazz and improvisation (2003…). They like to call their activity “noise music” as part of the field of sonic arts : the world of making music with objects and modified instruments. Improvisation for them is a way to question listening, time unfolding, space and public participation. They mix acoustical sources with electroacoustic ones.

The interest of the collective for Treatise by Cornelius Cardew stems, in comparison to other graphic scores, from its radical uncompromising approach to visual layout. They became acquainted with this score at the moment in which they wished to fix certain things in their improvisations. In a first approach to the piece, they decided to play the totality of the 193 pages with a clock, each page having a duration of 2 minutes. Immediately some graphics were more striking than others. They concentrated on very minimal lines. They selected the pages that interested them mostly and they applied their usual modes of playing to the strict temporality of the score.

In their realization of Treatise, the ensemble tried to combine a very strict approach to time organization determined by the layout of graphic elements on the pages, with their usual approach to free improvisation. In the Ishtar collective, each player is independent from the others, there are no decisions in common. For the realization of Treatise, they might have been working on the same page and the same time frame, but each player interpreted the graphics in his own way. Some players strictly respected the signs on paper, others had a more general loose way of translating the visual graphics into sound.

The question of the central line or “time line” has been discussed in relation with Cardew’s Handbook. Difficult choices had to be made between the possibility for the musicians to choose individually what pages to be played and what duration they might last, or on the contrary to use the time line as a common point of time unfolding. The work on Treatise had an important impact a lot on the group’s own practice of improvisation, especially concerning the relation to time.

The collective has also organized workshops for amateur musicians, or young students from music schools and primary schools, in which graphic scores played an important role, and Treatise was often used in this context. The use of graphic scores allows inexperienced players to access improvisation, the score is used as a pathway towards sound production not completely determined by some kind of notation. Pieces like Treatise are at the same time “works” in the traditional sense, and open to modes of playing independent from visual structuring. Treatise is a tool to fabricate possible worlds, to make music in the large sense of the word. But from the graphic point of view, the score presents itself as a sacred object, something fixed, untouchable. There is a very precise continuity in the piece, there is a real graphic development.

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English reference: I / O + IOU

I / O + IOU: The original text by Ben Boretz, « I / O » was published in Open Space Magazine, Issue 3, Spring 2001, Red Hook, New York. The text IOU by Jean-Charles François was written for Ben Boretz’s 80th birthday and will be published (alongside with Ben Boretz’s text) in the next issue of Open Space Magazine, under the title « I.O.U.A.lot, ComplE/Imentary to I / O by Benjamin Boretz ».

You can access these two texts in two different ways :

1) A video composed by a slide show of the texts accompanied by the recorded voices (in French) of:

  • In the role of Ben Boretz: Jean-Charles François
  • In the role of Jean-Charles François: Monica Jordan
  • Titles of works in Boretz: Nancy François
  • Non-titles in François: Dan Haffner

2) A pdf version of the two parallel texts (in French).

The two texts in French (12p, landscape format, 175Ko)

English abstract: Musique, Recherche et Politique

Musique, Recherche et Politique: One of the principal preoccupations of the collective Paalabres is the concern with the role of the artist in today’s global (or eminently localized) society, which is perforce political in nature. With the emphasis on practices rather than on the result (the works of art), the political characteristics of the interactions between participants cannot be avoided: especially the issues of access to artistic practices, to hierarchies, to participation in a democratic process, to the degree of self-determination of groups, etc. What is at stake is not to develop the communication of political postures, or to consider to overturning existing structures, but rather to be aware of the political and social nature of artistic acts. In this text Karine Hahn and Nicolas Sidoroff basically describe Karine’s research on musical practices in French rural contexts, and Nicolas’ work on popular education and its possible applications to musical practices. Some illustrative vignettes, more or less lengthy, more or less anecdotal, accompany the main text, bringing some elements of reason/resonance.

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English abstract: The Artistic Turn

The Artistic Turn: Summary of the book The Artistic Turn, A Manifesto, by Kathleen Coessens, Darla Crispin and Anne Douglas, published by the Orpheus Institute, Ghent, Belgium (Leuwen: Leuwen University Press, 2009).
Here is the text of the book’s cover:

The emergent field of artistic research remains controversial, and is accepted with varying degrees of enthusiasm in academic institutions. The challenges and opportunities presented by this discipline may be better understood by re-emphasizing the centrality of the artist through a fresh paradigm — an ‘artistic turn’. The aim is to create a field of meaning that may illuminate the most promising, though correspondingly problematic, aspects of artistic research: the essential ineffability of artistic creativity, and the consequent insufficiency of verbal and written accounts. The discourse articulated charts a constellation of ideas that outlines the new discipline and points to its manifold and open ended possibilities.

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English reference : George Lewis « Afterwords… »

George Lewis, « Afterwords to "Improvised Music after 1950": The Changing Same », was published in The Other Side of Nowhere, Jazz Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue, eds. Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble, Middeltown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2004, p. 163-172.

The original essay, “Improvised Music after 1950”, was published in Black Music Research Journal in 1996 by the Center for Black Music Research – Columbia College, Chicago.

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