Asemic Music?

Following my recent ‘outing’ as as an asemic writer, I would like to post this about an image I’ve had knocking around my WTF files for a few years. It is the sheet music to what can only be described as asemic music.

John Stump was an American music engraver and is largely only known for his ‘unplayable’ works that contain instructions to the musicians not to play softly or loudly and other practical notations, but more bizarre things such as ‘release the penguins!’ amongst other things:

If we view the visual quality of the sheet music (for those people who cannot read music, all musical notation will be asemic) we can recognise the visual language of musical notation in the layout and symbols; there are rhythms and patterns that we can understand as the instruction for sound, even if we cannot ‘hear’ it in our heads as we read (as someone who can read music – albeit very basically – I have some understanding of the complexity and contradictory nature of this composition.)

There is also another composition titled “String Quartet No. 556(b) for Strings In A Minor (Motoring Accident)” of which the above image is page 2. This is a little more deliberately visual in it’s arrangement, and I feel more effort has been put into the visual effect of the musical notation, but it loses some of the effect that the Faeries Aire has. It seems to be a little more visually forced to me. That is not  a critisism, just an observation – I include it here as a model of invention. Plus, I have always admired those who have dared to dance to their own tunes…

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

I just wanted to share this. There are some good links via the Wikipedia page, especially the Colarado Music Teachers Association attempt on Youtube and the excellent informative blog by Stump’s nephew. There’s even a Facebook page, but I won’t go that far.

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