The following interview was conducted via an email questionnaire in mid-2013 by Ryan Ross Smith.

RRS: What was the first piece you created using animated notation?

JP: Present Time 1 for acoustic guitar (player 1), theremin (player 2) and accordion (player 3).

Click HERE for the score. Click HERE for documentation.

The score is notated using a graphic piano-roll type notation metaphor where the note-events (in guitar and accordion) are represented by colored balls that move from right to left hitting a "play head" represented by a vertical red line. The balls travel on and between three lines that defines five discrete pitches (a,b,c#,d,e).

The theremin is playing glissandos following the green lines.

Dynamics (for all three players) are defined by a yellow "sun" that rises and sets.

RRS: What led you to start using animated notation? [This could be aesthetic/artistic concerns, technological experimentation, a bet and/or dare, etc.]

JP: First time I saw a piece using animated notation was the piece by Icelandic composer Aki Asgeirsson performed on ICMC in Copenhagen 2007. From then on I was hooked because I had seen "the future." It ended up with me moving to Iceland to learn from the composers of the S.L.A.T.U.R. collective who had been developing animated notations since around 2005.

RRS: Where there particular compositions/notational approaches/technologies/video games/etc. that exerted any influence over your [early and/or present] work?

JP: In general I develop a new notation for each new piece. Often the notations are very specific in what the performers have to do and when. I usually color code different sonorities and/or actions.

My first three animated scores (Present Time 1-3) all use the same graphic notation engine. Where as Present Time 1 and 2 both are "locked" scores, Present Time 3 is composed in realtime.

After that I changed notational approach and started developing notations that are closer to choreography and are often highly instrument specific. I became interested in merging the instrument and the notation by either projecting the score onto the instrument or using arduino controlled LED arrays placed in front of the strings of a harp, etc.

I almost exclusively work in the software package Pd/GEM and the tool itself have had a clear influence on the primitive look of my scores. The tools and medium always seems to shine through somehow.

RRS: How would you describe your current work with animated notation, and where do you see it going in the future?

JP: The latest piece I did (Seascape) used a notation that was purely practical and didn't explore the visual aspects of the notation. I have also experimented with animating standard notational symbols (Helmut, Q-A, Q-B) using music fonts.

I hope to develop more complex notations that at the same time also can be enjoyed as visually interesting. I'm also hoping to developing the integrated notation/instrument further.

Education: I've written for music school kids and animated notation seems to be a great way to open the door to experimental music in a fun way.

Collaboration/Interaction: Real time animated notation as a strong medium for interactive and collaborative works were e.g. performers from different fields collaborate, and further development of new music in general.


Jesper Pedersen is a composer, performer, independent researcher, and teacher. He is currently based in Reykjavik, Iceland, and is an active member of the composer collective S.L.Á.T.U.R.

  • Visit Jesper's website
  • Visit S.L.Á.T.U.R.'s website
  • You can find Jesper's scores here