Second Square To None

Interesting new paper by Shane McKenna talking about graphic notation as a teaching method. Anyone who has taken part in his compelling performances in the Bernard Shaw or previous SSTN events, where he encourages group participation in extemporaneous music creation, will have an idea of what he is talking about here. He facilitates these group performances with inventive graphic video cues, giving structure to the piece yet encouraging individual interpretation and experimentation.

As a music maker and music teacher the main aim of my work has been to create genuinely accessible musical experiences, which invite participation based not on musical experience or training but on a simple willingness to take part. This approach arises from the view that music is a fundamental human activity, which forms a part of all known human cultures past and present[i] and which not only satisfies our creative urges but plays an important role in our personal and social development just as it has in our evolution and survival[ii] as a way of promoting cohesion through collaborative experience. In western art music the development of notation lead to a gulf between those who take part in music - performers and composers - and those who simply listen - their audience. This has been reinforced by a music education system which concentrates largely on music and notation of the past without giving due attention to the development of musical ideas in contemporary music and to notational reform. The use of graphic notation in education has been shown to encourage creative thinking, collaboration and ensemble performance, while also dealing with general musical concepts, which apply across many genres and styles of music.[iii] From my own experience of using graphic notation in the classroom, and as a compositional device I began to develop a system of animated notation, which would further serve the idea of creative collaboration and accessible music making.
Read the full paper here.

Pulsing Shapes Colours - graphic score for orchestra - NYOI from Shane Mc Kenna on Vimeo.
Piece recorded with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland - Symphony Orchestra during their 2009 Summer course featuring soloist Evelyn Glennie

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