Mapping or Choreographing?: Redefining Musical Notation

Elo Masing


This paper deals with aspects of musical notation in my compositional practice that cast the physicality of instrumental performance as one of the basic principles of compositional work. Choice of notation system relates directly to the process of musical creation; it defines the creative concerns to be dealt with in a particular composition. The composer has to determine the nature of information to be transmitted and the mode of communication to be applied in each case. Whether it is traditional notation or an alternative system that is found most suitable in the end, the composer today needs to be aware of the myriad possibilities available. It follows then that certain processes in composition centred on physicality can be seen as charting the instrument in different terms, choreographing the movements of the performer or mapping out new thought processes for him. However, defining the function of notation in this context is a more complex issue than simply deciding in favour of transmitting one or another kind of information.


notation, physicality-centred composition, instrumental choreography

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