Eye Music: The Graphic Art of New Musical Notation

Serpentine South Gallery 26 Jul — 31 Aug 1986 Free

This was one of the largest surveys of musical notation undertaken and included scores by more than 100 composers from Britain, Europe, America, and Japan.

The exhibition looked back over some 25 years of musical innovation through to the early 1970s.

Composers had increasingly experimented with new ranges of sound that could not be described by traditional notes on a five-line stave, and the arrival of electronic music demanded entirely new means of notation. Composers began to look to painting and the graphic arts for inspiration to devise new graphic forms of notation.

The exhibition included scores created by visual artists, a 20-foot square floor piece, and a score which was issued as a postage stamp. Most prominent among the British works was Cornelius Cardew’s nine-hour Treatise (1963-67). Sections of the original score were displayed in the gallery.

A recorded audio-visual programme was played regularly throughout the day, and events at the Serpentine included new works for Eye Music by performance artists and musicians, and performances of scores shown in the exhibition and related pieces.

The exhibition was an Arts Council of Great Britain touring show devised by Hugh Davies, Julie Lawson, and Michael Regan, and was accompanied by a publication. The exhibition was also presented at the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, and the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.

 

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