Author

Andrew Paulin

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Date Information

May 2015

Department

Music and Dance

First Advisor

Peter Kvetko

Abstract

How does one learn what the symbols in a written piece signify? Is there a "best way" to learn? How can they mean the same to everyone who reads music? Is written music only a supplement to aural expression, or can it be an art and craft in itself? Questions like these are useful if one is to acquire an active, nonlinear view of the study of music, and more are presented here.

This exhibition consists of a series of artworks, each done on a piece of music staff paper. Each one deconstructs and reformulates the European notation system, and is partially an expression of the processes involved in learning the "musical language." Reading and interpreting a piece of written music involves abstract thought, and playing in groups or to an audience requires fast synthesis of multiple levels of auditory, tactile, and stylistic considerations. The expert musician can even blend the lines between performance from memory and on-the-spot composition.

The topics of each are usefully viewed in the light of the three kinds of music, as described by Deems Taylor in introducing Fantasia: "First, there's the kind that tells a definite story. Then there's the kind that while it has no specific plot, it does paint a series of more or less definite pictures. And then there's a third kind...that exists simply for its own sake." Put another way, there are pieces here whose underlying concepts are at the forefront. In the second category are those which ask more questions than they answer, and the third category is self-evident. While not at all a central tenet of this collection, this division into three types is a way of stating that art serves varying social functions. Meta-cognition and pedagogy are recurrent themes in that first category, wrapped in the artist's conviction that learning is a constant process of growth, which requires attention, care and upkeep. This belief is manifested in a tendency to turn notated symbols into objects from nature.

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