Music with Context: Audiovisual Scores for Improvising Musicians

Thesis Venn Diagram 2.0 - New Page

Last May I completed my MFA in New Media at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. A good stretch of my time at the college was spent working on my master’s thesis. Here’s the abstract:

This paper explores the idea of mutable, audiovisual scores for improvised musical performances through the description of personal perspectives, practical examples, proposed projects, and research. The author postulates that an audiovisual score can be a useful tool to connect improvising musicians to each other and their audience through the insertion of a mediating audiovisual layer within the work. These systems are used as a primary influential agent for an ensemble of improvisers, providing them with a context for a musical conversation. In contrast to traditional notation and graphic scores, audiovisual scores embrace the chaotic ambiguities of environmental influences giving the music the context of unpredictable everyday events. Presenting an unpredictable audiovisual score parallels the indeterminate improvisation of the ensemble. It activates the last vestige of what remains immutable within traditional forms of notation driven performance inserting it into a mutable layer within the work.

Recently it occurred to me that many AudioCookbook readers will find the subject matter in my thesis interesting. There are detailed, conceptual explanations for many of the projects that I have shared here over the last few years. There are also references to work by many other artists who have provided inspiration to me. If you’re interested please click the link below to view or download the document.

Music with Context: Audiovisual Scores for Improvising Musicians by John Keston

5 thoughts on “Music with Context: Audiovisual Scores for Improvising Musicians

  1. Wicked paper man :) It’s been a minute since I’ve read something this interesting.

    Do you have any more examples of how semiotics could be used to analyze music.

    Scopes, outcomes n all that shit.

    Thanks in advance man.

  2. I have always called it “P.I.C.H” –
    Primary Elements of Creativity are:

    On your chart, that would translate as
    Improvisation = Inspiration
    Sound Synthesis = Craft
    Phonomnesis = Humanity

    Inspiration, Craft and Humanity are the Primary Elements of any creative work. Outside budget of course : )

  3. Thanks, for the note, Abood. By far, the most in-depth research into semiotics and music that I came across was from Guerino Mazzola. Mazzola is a mathematician as well as a piano player, so his approach is rooted in maths. I was intrigued by his cube of musical topography and did my best to summarize my understanding of it in my paper. For more details you should be able to find a link to his work in my bibliography.

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