I just spent an amusing evening watching a football match with the sound turned off on the TV and some experimental compositions by George Ligeti playing on my sound system. I thoroughly recommend playing music instead of listening to the commentators, by the way; it’s much more fun! Anyway, a piece that worked particularly well was the pioneering electronic composition Artikulation (1958). Having a look on Youtube I found this wonderful video which adds an even more appropriate visual to Ligeti’s extraordinary sound world than a football match, in the form of a graphical score (created by Rainer Wehinger) which you can follow along as the music plays.

To quote from an explanatory article I found on the web:

In order to capture the dynamics of the performance Rainer abandoned the conventions of standard notation, concluding it was ineffective in dealing with compositions devoid of regular meter and harmonic scale. The alternative system he developed relied on color, shape, width and position to capture Ligeti’s work. Color in the score was used to denote pitch or timbre, combs represented noise, dots marked impulses and the width of the elements indicated their duration. The video below maps Ligeti’s compostion on to Rainer’s graphical score to demonstrate how effectively it describes the performance.

I imagine many readers of this blog won’t agree with me, but I find the result absolutely fascinating. The visual score has an abstract beauty on its own, but together with the music it creates a particularly interesting effect; each page of the score had me trying to imagine in my mind’s ear what was going to happen next….

2 Responses to “Artikulation”

  1. Bryn Jones Says:

    … and some experimental compositions by George Ligeti playing on my sound system.

    What! Not Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony from the BBC Proms?

  2. telescoper Says:

    I think Bruckner would go better with cricket than football…

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