Score at the library

A significant exhibition of graphic scores will take place this spring at the Library of Birmingham.

Co-curated by Joe Scarffe and Beth Derbyshire for Frontiers Festival, SCORE includes beautiful examples of visual music, musical graphics and eye music from from pioneering composers such as Robert Ashley, Pauline Oliveros, Elliott Sharp, Carl Bergström Nielsen and others, as well as new and recent work by Janet Boulton, Claudia Molitor and by young people from Birmingham.

The exhibition explores how composers, musicians and artists have reimagined how music can be represented through notation and text. In the 20th century, the established framework of music notation exploded, with composers inventing their own systems. Greater collaboration and improvisation was encouraged, these new scores allowing performers greater responsibility for the musical outcome. As a result, there is now an overwhelming variety of notation systems and graphics, which range from penned graphics by the Beatles to interactive architectural structures.

SCORE includes a number of these graphic scores, many of which exists as works of art in their own right. Accompanying the exhibition are performances and public events, including a big band improvisation of Elliott Sharp’s extraordinary score, Foliage and Christian Marclay’s Shuffle. The Thallein Ensemble also perform Earle Brown’s seminal December 1952.

The exhibition forms part of Frontiers: Extraordinary Music from Downtown New York & Birmingham, a major festival of music presented by Birmingham Conservatoire and Third Ear. Artists including Robert Ashley – dubbed ‘the David Lynch of Amercian music’ – Elliott Sharp, Carl Stone, Pauline Oliveros, David Lang, Rhys Chatham and Object Collection will perform in Birmingham.  Frontiers looks to the collaborative and do-it-your-own-way traditions of New York and the sounds, ideas and iconic moments from that city which have fuelled music culture. Birmingham’s own vibrant music scene, with its strong young voices and bold new work, adds to the programme.

Frontiers begins on 22nd March when Sarah Farmer performs Laurie Anderson’s As:If, a special violin performance outside the Library of Birmingham – the violinist wearing skates encased in ice.

Frontiers is curated by Ed McKeon (Third Ear Music), developed by Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University, and supported by Arts Council England.

Full programme and ticketing information will be available on from 3rd February 2014.