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Notating Deconstruction

What Can Ethnomusicological Transcription Learn from the Notational Practices of Contemporary Composers?

This article explores experiments with musical notation and asks how we might consider representing music differently.


Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s (1981) approach to deconstructing Platonic dichotomies, this article argues that any notational system is inherently structuring and should be subjected to deconstructive efforts. Further, my contention is that this deconstruction can be realized in how notation itself is used, in what I refer to as ‘deconstructive notation’. This article looks at how notation has been used by composers to deconstruct the categories of Western staff notation, opening up the ways in which music is studied as an invitation to all those engaged in notating music to make room in their work for deconstructive notational play.

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