This is the second blog in the series about Graphic Scores and Music Therapy
Understanding how 20th century and contemporary artists have attempted to visualise music can create alternative ways of re-imagining music therapy. It can be useful to incorporate graphics into music therapy reflective notes. This can not only aid memory, but develop thinking and assist analysis.
As an example I would like to use a simple one minute extract of work with a 5 year old boy*.
Clinical Notes: ‘Seated at the piano side by side with John. I played a blues in C major and sang, ‘John and Becky in music now’. He turned round to look, giving direct eye contact. Brief pause of piano music. John seemed to notice the camera and then started sounding the piano using all his fingers at once. I continued playing and singing ‘music now’. He started to use loud vocal sounds such as ‘ra-ra’. I imitated his sounds. There was a real feeling of connection and playing together. After one minute John lost concentration, said ‘oh’ and turned away. He then quickly moved away from the piano.’
This can be illustrated in a box graphic:
Or on a time graphic:
Bergstrom Nielson (2010) discusses the idea of the simple ‘line sketch’. Drawing a single line to represent the individual and layering graphics over this to illustrate events and music.
In the extract with John it might look something like this:
The idea is taken from Klee (Duchting, 2016 ) who, when teaching at the Bauhaus, developed a theory of form and structure in painting related to music. Klee (1953) sought to visualise music, particularly it’s temporal and rhythmic elements. Single flowing lines for Klee represented the temporal in music, and showed movement from one moment to the next. In layering graphics over these lines, he was able to illustrate the polyphonic nature of music.
Drawing a ‘polyphonic’ graphic related to John’s session, allows me to immediately see the shape, time and structure of the session. The drawing shows there were two main points of interaction, the eye contact after I had initially played the blues introduction and the joint vocalising at the end. The relationships between the two flowing graphic lines illustrates the times of coming together and being apart. The blue background represents the holding and containing nature of the blues structure.
To think about this extract in a wider context, it was highly unusual for John to vocalise and give so much eye contact at this point in the therapy. The graphic score highlighted the closeness of the interaction. This demonstrates that its possible to use a combination of reflective notes with graphic scores which can inform thinking about the work.
I would like to invite you to try out simple drawings to accompany your sessions, and think about if you find the process useful. Please let me know your results.
*The extract is loosely based on actual clinical work, all names and identifying information have been changed and consent given.
Bergstrom-Nielson, C. (2010) Graphic Notation – the Simple Sketch and Beyond. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 19 (2), pp. 162 – 177.
Ducting, H. (2016) Paul Klee: Painting Music. Munich: Prestel
Klee, P. (1953) Pedagogical Sketchbook. Translated from the German by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. New York.
Guy, F., Shaw-Miller, S., and Tucker, M. (2007) Eye-Music: Kandinsky, Klee and all that Jazz. Chichester: Pallant House Gallery.