Systems for Non-Linear 
Instruments and Notation
by Dan Senn


Linear notation when applied to sculptural, or nonlinear instruments is mutually obstructive. Take for example a sound sculpture which has been designed to link the visual and aural arts in a balanced representation -- how does one score for an instrument where the pitched elements may only be a by- product of visual and timbral or even logistical considerations; where sound parameters do not operate along a convenient continuum; where resonators are not presented in panel format for easy access; where traditional percussion mallets may be wholly unsuitable? The symbiotic nature of nonlinear instruments is the stuff of compromise as the spatial position of resonant objects, relative to human limitations, impose a set of physically possible or convenient musical gestures. These considerations extend beyond the limits of traditional notation and bring to the fore the question as to whether new systems should be devised or whether, perhaps, it is best for such performances to remain within an improvisational context.

Systems for Non-Linear Instruments Notation, Journal of New Music Research, Vol. 23 (1994), pp. 209-23, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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