XIII (2019)

Notating electronics

Carl Faia
Brunel University, London

Published 2019-12-15


  • Music notation,
  • Enchiriadis,
  • Electronic music,
  • Electro-acoustic music,
  • John Cage,
  • Jonathan Harvey,
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen,
  • Vladimir Ussachevsky
  • ...More

How to Cite

Faia, C. (2019). Notating electronics. Musica/Tecnologia, 13(1), 43–65. https://doi.org/10.13128/music_tec-11162


While we have always had the need to represent music — ephemeral and abstract in every sense of those adjectives — a special need has been more recently, and acutely,  expressed in notating electronics and electro-acoustic music. This has presented composers and copyists with a certain number of problems, including how to notate these new sounds in the context of adapting a preexisting notational system, or with a purpose designed scheme to respond to the perceived needs of the medium. After an overview of the history of notation in the context of contemporary needs, the article presents the merits of using the traditional system compared to creating new system(s). In conclusion, moving towards a different system of notation is pitched against using what we already know and use with some suggestions on moving forward towards a common practice in notating electronics. Solutions are illustrated with real-world examples taken from collaborative projects with composers Jonathan Harvey, James Dillon and others over the last 20 years.


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