From time to time we musicians struggle with interpreting the symbols on a page of music. It can feel like a mysterious secret language. Which gets me to thinking about the who, what, when, where, and why of musical notation.

Much of our music notation system got its start in European monasteries in the 9th century. Notation practices evolved over the next few hundred years and became standardized as music publishing technology developed. And still today, the two-dimensional representation of sound can feel inadequate.

At April’s group class we made a quick time travel from the earliest notated Gregorian chants to the modern graphic notation of R. Murray Schafer.