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Audio-Graphic Substitution: a method and process



The two primary aspects of this work are the indeterminate creativity available to the performers in the initial stage and the predetermined fragments (colours) which are then substituted into the work during the performance. The process of ‘audio-graphic substitution’ aims to not only engage the performers and audience in the free creative process of play, but to also allow for a work that is fresh and ‘new’ in every performance. My goal in avoiding conventional notation and scoring was to bypass the ‘re-creative’ process that is so pervasive in classical art-music, where the score is a recipe or script to be followed either as precisely as possible or with the occasional liberty to add interpretive nuance. By utilizing a novel method and inviting the players (and audience) into the free-play process using visual, audible and tactile aspects I hope that every iteration of this piece is freely creative in that the work is spontaneously formed in a shared experience.


Performance Tools:


3x Rubber Stamps (Circle, Square, Triangle) 

1x Inkpad

1x ‘Canvas’ comprised of a white A3 size paper (preferably of a high GSM)

3x ‘Geometric’ music score fragments



Performance Guide:


Stage 1.


Performers are encouraged to use the three shaped stamps and inkpad to create a graphic artwork comprising any number or combination of shapes and outlines on the ‘canvas’. There is no time limit to this stage. When each performer feels they are finished then stage 2 may commence.


Stage 2.


The stamped ‘canvas’ is placed on a stand or easel where it is clearly visible to all performers. Any practical seating or standing arrangement may be utilised. Performers then take the ‘geometric’ music fragments from their envelopes and place them on individual or shared music stands*. Performers should familiarize themselves with the music fragments and discuss how they plan to perform the work as an ensemble before proceeding to stage 3.

* a performer may choose to have a single geometric fragment or two or all three.


Stage 3.


Performers use their instruments to ‘play’ the graphic work as an ensemble using the geometric music fragments as a reference to do so. There are no rules. The work is finished when all performers feel playtime is over.

Hints & Suggestions:



  • Geometric fragments do not need to be ‘played through’ every time they occur.


  • The Triangle and Circle fragments can be broken down into smaller shards separated by commas.


  • The Square fragment can start and stop at any location.


  • All fragments and/or shards can be played in any combination, repeated ad lib, and played backwards.


  • Tempo, dynamic, register, bowing, articulation, and technique changes are allowed.


  • In cases where stamped shapes overlap or group on the ‘canvas’ I would encourage the performers to ‘mix’ fragments or shards together i.e. playing the different fragments together (R.H. & L.H. on the piano).


  • The ink stamps will not make consistently dense shapes or outlines. Consider how the light/darkness of a shape might affect the way it could be realised in performance.


  • Try and be aware of how much empty space is on the canvas. If solid shapes indicate played sounds, then blank canvas could be ‘rests’ for some players or silence.


  • The individual performer’s approach to ‘graphic substitution’ while playing the canvas does not need to be consistent (unless previously agreed upon with the ensemble) i.e. realising a circle at the start of the performance could result in playing the entire circle fragment, while realising a circle at the end of the performance could result in a circle shard being repeated multiple times.

  • The ensemble may initially prepare multiple canvases in the form of movements which are then performed sequentially.

  • A performer may continue to alter and stamp the canvas if desired during the performance.

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