Principles of Nature: towards a new visual language
Wayne Roberts © 2003

Musical notation reflects its intrinsic scale structures and syntax

The fact that music is notatable (able to be 'codified' in the form of a score that consists of signs for notes of various lengths, bar lines, key signatures, and time signatures, etc) is indicative of its logical underlying foundation of various interrelated scale structures. This stands in sharp contradistinction to the abstract visual arts (on the whole, and at the beginning of the twenty-first century), whose external surface forms have not, to this point, been founded upon covert scale structures common to the genre.

Choreography in dance is also conceptually closely allied to the notation of music and to the dynamic interconnections among scale structures in that it gives form to 'tempo' and the passage of time marked out rhythmically (or in some other lyrically-measured manner).

Notation as an 'attractor'

Unlike most 'foundations' designed to be immovable, many of the scale structures of music are quite accommodating of an elastic or adaptive and dynamic quality—tempo may speed up or slow down, notes may appear marginally ahead-of or just behind the 'metric of timing' (tempo) giving a humanized or slightly irregular and expressive quality to the musical stream. Similarly, the particular frequencies of notes that form the scale of a given key signature may serve as 'homing-in' resonances, for example, in the technique of vibrato in which the pitch of a note alternately oscillates slightly above and below the 'pin-point' pitch of a particular note of the scale in question— again the brain 'averages' these subtle oscillations of pitch upwards and downwards (in the technique of vibrato in music) and, if the musician is skillful, the note (when considered holistically over the time it is sounding) is nonetheless perceived as completely 'in-tune'.

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