An Ocular Score is a visual musical score drawn using data generated from the analysis of complex sounds. Eventually, Ocular Scores will be a reliable and precise tool to document sounds that have never been reliably notated before.
Ocular Scores will also be used as a teaching tool for notating extended technique and for young musicians to practice and learn these new techniques with the help of a feedback image of the sound they produce.
Ultimately, it will be a creative tool for composers who wish to push the boundaries of expression for instrumentalists.
Ocular Scores is being developed in collaboration with designer Joseph Browne. The project is in residency at Matralab, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada, Sandeep Bhagwati, director.
During the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with brilliant improvisers while I created multimedia projects. It was inspiring to work with such creative musicians, and it made me want to be able to notate our unique collaborations in such a way that they could be repeatable by other musicians.
I wanted a notation that conveyed a sense of immediacy and was familiar and intuitive. The images had to be replicable, created from the interpretation from the sound analysis. Images had to be a reliable interpretation of a complex sound. This graphical notation needed to contribute something unique to our already sophisticated and precise musical notation system.
- In Ocular Scores™ black lines are drawn on a white surface, interpreting data from the analysis of complex sounds.
- Using TouchDesigner to interpret the data from the analysis, the image appears as if a pen is drawing an image.
- We also have the option to use a white line drawn on a black surface when we want to project in a theatre space.
- Eventually we added a few colors to express density of sound.
- We kept the traditional conventions of time on the x-axis and frequencies on the y-axis.
- We have the option of tracking main pitches on a separate line, but we can take off that line if we do not need it.
- We have created three iterations of the Ocular Scores Tool, each performing multiple functions:
- The ability to draw an image from the analysis of complex sounds that can be used as gestural elements to compose new works or to compare a complex sound against another complex sound
- The ability to draw full transcriptions of a performance for future interpretations.
- The ability to draw images in real time and to manipulate those images to create interactive projected scores to be performed live by multiple performers.
- Ideally, we will create an interface for Master Improvisers to document their unique sounds in a reliable manner and in such a way that young musicians can use the same tool to learn and test these extended techniques.
- Ultimately, it is designed to be a composer’s tool to dependably notate complex sounds and to inspire and push instrumentalists into new sonic territories.
Ocular Scores™ is developed in collaboration with master improvisers who test each prototype and give us their expert feedback. Ocular Scores™ is in development and there is still a lot of work to be done, but there are elements of poetic expression and precision in those images that continue to inspire the work forward.