Graphic Scores – Introduction

Graphic Scores are a wonderfully useful and creative tool for use in composing activities with youngsters.

Tgrassfest graphic score cracoehey

  • show musical ideas in graphic terms using colour, texture, shape and line to interpret melody, rhythm, timbre, texture and structure in music;
  • serve as an aid to memory in composing activities, so that you can come back to compositions at a later date and resume composing straight away;
  • are fantastic for the “conductor” of the group who can just point to the music they want to hear;
  • are beautiful to look at;
  • provide a written record of a composition without having to read conventional music notation;
  • can be used to introduce elements of traditional music notation alongside other shapes, lines and phonetic spellings;
  • can be used by students and teachers who have no music-reading skills;11
  • can be re-interpreted by other groups in follow-up composing activities;
  • can be used as an art activity in their own right as well as music/art combined activities;
  • can be created as part of a listening activity;
  • are easily adapted and re-constructed if you use magnetic plastic shapes on a whiteboard, or felt shapes on a felt board;
  • work well on an interactive whiteboard with graphics software.

Many of the examples here are from a recent series of workshops Cheryl led at the Grassington Festival in June 2013.

After coming up3 with story ideas for a weather myth in a sort of creative relay, children at six primary schools in the Yorkshire Dales composed music and song to illustrate their two finished stories “Kilnsey Crag and the Planet Rainrocks” and “The Treasure At The Start of the Rainbow”. Two of the schools composed new lyrics to a rainbow song, and four composed incidental music, with their initial ideas being recorded graphically and rather scruffily by Cheryl at the point of composition. These scribblings were then turned into neater, more colourful scores to practise from, and then larger, textured scores were created for the final performance. Different c21 croppedolours are used to represent different musical sounds. Some actual music notation symbols were introduced to the students and they revelled in their use! After the workshop, the graphic scores were displayed like art works in the Grassington Town Hall for the remainder of the festival and the recordings of the two performances were played out on a loop!

Go to Graphic Scores: Fostering Literacy Skills Go to Graphic Scores: Starting With Art Go to Graphic Scores: Musical Structure and Development Go to Graphic Scores: Inspiration Cards Go to Graphic Scores: Aids To Listening
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