Monday, February 02, 2015

Music Education Monday: What's the score?

The original idea for this week's "Music Education Monday" was to point out some online resources for free sheet music, but in putting the post together, there was so much material that it really needed to be a two-parter. So, without further ado, here's part one...

* Many jazz musicians and students also include some classical pieces in their practice routines, both for general knowledge and as way of working on specific ideas or techniques.

And if you're looking for music like that to play, one useful source for free sheet music online is the International Music Score Library Project/Petrucci Music Library, which contains more than 300,000 free scores for public domain works in downloadable form, as well as recordings of some of those scores. Similar libraries of public domain resources can be found at and the Mutopia Project.

* If you write music by hand, but never seem to have blank score paper handy when you need it, or keep running out, bookmark, which has free downloadable and printable formats for everything from simple lead sheets to full orchestral scores.

* And for those times when conventional notation just won't do the job, perhaps graphic notation will. The idea of representing music with visual symbols outside the realm of traditional notation originated in the years after World War II and was developed by John Cage and other contemporary composers to convey new ideas and create new modes of expression by combining aspects of visual art with music.

To understand the basics, you can read a brief history of graphic notation and see some some famous examples, courtesy of Smithsonian magazine, here, or read this introduction to the idea, taken from Theresa Sauer's 2009 book Notations 21, along with another gallery of examples like "Celestial Spheres," used to illustrate this post.

There's another interesting gallery of works using graphic notation here, and the 2008 New Music Box article "Picturing Music: The Return of Graphic Notation" has a useful overview of recent developments.

Next week, it's part two, with fake books, Real Books, and more...

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