What is a Score?

A score is a representation of sounds using visual symbols. Learning to read and write music is no different from learning to read and write a foreign language.

Music notation is a sonic blueprint, like this blueprint that tells a shipbuilder how to build a ship:

olympic blueprint

Or you can think of it as a sonic roadmap, like this visual map of the SUNY-Broome campus. The symbols of music notation — lines, bars, staves, notepads — tell you in what direction to go, how far, and how fast.


Some unusual scores

A heart-shaped score by 15th-century French composer Baude Cordier:

Makrokosmos Book I: The Magic Circle of Infinity by George Crumb (1972)

Aria by John Cage (1957)


Which can sound like this (it is a sort of guided improvisation):

Helicopter String Quartet by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1995)


It sounds like this:

Here are two examples of scores by American composer and jazz player Anthony Braxton:

Braxton score 2

Braxton score








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: