Dr. Robert Davidson

updated 10.12.2013 by rrs


Earlier this year I sent out a brief questionnaire with several questions regarding the use of animated notation in one's work. Here are Dr. Robert Davidson's responses:

RRS: When did you first start using animated notation in your work, and can you describe this early work?

DrRD: I started playing with Flash-based animations in 2005, and created several works for public performance, including an outdoor site-specific work, "AWOL" for the Queensland University of Technology. I used animated notation for several reasons:

1. to allow non-score-reading musicians to play.

2. to synchronise widely-dispersed players (spread over a large area of 1km square) without needing to see each other, or a conductor. There were several screens.

3. to give the audience a way into the music visually.

4. to make a tightly synchronized visualization of the music.

5. to foster complex polyrhythms.

6. to allow audience participation (they can play events in time by watching the projected score)

RRS: What led you to start using animated notation?

DrRD: It was mostly practical concerns, but particularly the polyrhythmic aspect. I was fascinated by seeing Nancarrow's piano rolls as they ran through the player piano, with the duration of notes, and their onsets in complex polyrhythms, and thought that could be a kind of score that would allow precision without musicians needing to know about how to play polyrhythms.

I also was attracted to visualization of musical structure, to let audiences have a strong connection with musical elements that may be less obvious without visual correspondence, and because I enjoy experiencing music in a visual way.

RRS: Where do you see your work with animated notation going in the future?

DrRD: I'd like to explore further the possibilities with polyrhythm. This to me is exciting as it's possible to create complex polyrhythms that don't require the performers to be counting and being rhythmically virtuosic."


"Dr. Robert Davidson is a prolific composer, bassist, lecturer and founder and artistic director of Topology, ensemble-in-residence at the Brisbane Powerhouse and a Key Organisation in the Australia Council's funding structure. Davidson studied composition with Terry Riley in California before completing a composition PhD at the University of Queensland, included on the Dean's list of outstanding PhDs in 2003. "[1]

1. "Bio," uq.edu.au, accessed November 30, 2013, http://www.uq.edu.au/music/dr-robert-davidson.


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