What is a Graphic Score?

Roman Haubenstock Ramati
Roman Haubenstock Ramati

Most of us would recognise the above image as music. The traditional system of placing musical notes across a 5-lined stave to denote different pitches, rhythms as well as instructions on how each of those notes should be played. Are they quiet, or loud? Slurred or detached? All of the information is provided to ensure the music is performed in the exact way that the composer intended.


Though it may not seem like it, this image is also a piece of music; a piece of music represented through a Graphic Score!

A Graphic Score is a representation of music through the use of visual symbols outside the realm of traditional music notation. This can include symbols, shapes, illustrations, sketches, anything else you can imagine which act as the instructions for the piece of music.

Due to the abstract nature of graphic scores, each performer creates their own interpretation of how the score will sound, this means that most of the time the music produced from one graphic score may be totally different with each performance!