The Chantilly Codex (Chantilly, Musée Condé MS 564) ca. 1350-1400 contains a number of scores with unconventionally shaped staves such as circles and hearts. The manuscript was produced during a period in which the playful transgression of apparent borders between text and image had not yet been shut been down.
filled with letters
entwined in insects
transforming into flowers
In this image from the ‘The Breviary of Queen Isabella of Castille’ c. 1497 from the Netherlands a kneeling female figure reads from a book of psalms while her free hand grasps a further length of liturgical text with which she scores her hours of prayer in relation to the passing of time.
Meanwhile caterpillars, butterflies and other insects emerge around her enacting their own life-cycles, disrupting the demarcations of the page.
of a fly
The score "Tout par compas suy composés" ("With a compass was I composed") by Baude Cordier from The Chantilly Codex (1350-1400) also breaks with conventions of notation in ways that foreground the conceptual relation of materials to music and language.
mobile transparent strip
This is a circular score which is ‘activated’ by the placement of the mobile transparent strip (the refrain) which is swung round to highlight the parts of the score to be interpreted by the musicians at each interval. Bertrand Chamayou, Vanessa Benelli Mosell and Florent Jodelet performed this piece in 2019 When the piece was first performed it featured David Tudor on piano and Cornelius Cardew on celesta. David Tudor was already known as a collaborator with the musician John Cage and Cornelius Cardew would go on to write his own graphic score Treatise (1963-7) a page of which (183) would in turn be reinterpreted at the end of the century by the band Sonic Youth
Stockhausen did not begin to develop his interest in music until his demobilisation from the army in 1945 and during his studies at Cologne he played the piano in dance bands in order to support himself.
The shape of Stockhausen’s score is in some ways reminiscent of the radar dials and scans developed in WW2.
A coincidental shape in repetition or an ongoing cross over between the cultural imagination of a particular time and its available technologies of imaging as developed through its military capabilities?
The Met Office has long ago repurposed the technology of the radar for its own reading of the weather and is only occasionally overwhelmed by other species interference mostly such information is lost and discarded. The Biodar project engages with the reinterpretation of meteorological radar scans to monitor insect diversity.
Other species interference ….