Graphic Scores by Students

Collaborative graphic scores are extraordinary vehicles for teaching composition in the classroom.

Graphic Score by Cheryl Leonard, Photo courtesy of Charles Kremenak

A graphic score is a non-traditional form of notation that expresses sounds through visual images. Avant-garde composers including Ligeti, Stockhausen, and Xenakis pioneered the practice in the 1950s and 60s.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Michael Colgrass developed a graphic notion composition program for middle school and high school students. Here is an outline of Colgrass’s program.

Listen to some extraordinary music written by middle school students:

Yesterday I experimented with teaching with Colgrass’s methods with a high school jazz ensemble. The kids had a blast:

This is a profound teaching tool and I look forward to facilitating more student compositions and following Colgrass’s wider educational project.

– ST

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