The Metaphysics of Notation

The Metaphysics of Notation

Music by the yard
Mark Applebaum
Charlotte Applebaum
Mark Applebaum
Molly Barth
Karol Berger
Chris Chafe
Paul Dresher
Brian Ferneyhough
Joan Friedman
Jaroslaw Kapuscinski
Charles Kronengold
Brian McWhorter
Ken Ueno
Erik Ullman
Patience Young
Sam Adams
Liz Allbee
Michael Berger
Beta Collide
Andrew Bliss
Dale Boland
Doug Carroll
Laura Chau
Ted Coffey
Christopher Costanza
Joshua Crumbly
Joel Davel
Cenk Ergun
Jonathan Erman
Tim Feeney
Corey Fogel
Blair Foley
Debra Fong
Heather Frasch
Philip Gelb
Matthew Goodheart
Anthony Green
Rob Hamilton
Ron Heglin
Ivor Holloway
Matt Ingalls
Graeme Jennings
Scott Jones
Julia Jurkiewicz
Ron Kohler
Fernando Lopez-Lezcano
Victor Lin
Alison Lowell
MC Lars
Andy Meyetson
Dave Mihaly
Be'eri Moalem
Tom Nunn
Noah Phillips
Pink Canoes
John Pobojewski
Vic Rawlings
Jane Rigler
Gino Robair
Dennis Shafer
Margaret Schedel
Adam Sheppard
Alan Shockley
Ed Silberman
So Percussion
Stanford MoPhO
Michael Straus
Sudhu Tewari
Josh Thurston-Mil
Catalog Number: 
graphic scores

Stanford, CA

Release Date: 
Oct 17, 2011
Liner Notes: 
One Sheet: 

Composer and sound-sculpture inventor (not to mention Stanford prof) Mark Applebaum refuses to be fenced in. This time his visually-obsessive music has emigrated from the concert hall to the museum gallery. Mark Applebaum's cryptic, painfully fastidious, wildly elaborate, and unreasonably behemoth pictographic score, The Metaphysics of Notation, consists of 70 linear feet of highly detailed, hand-drawn glyphs, two hanging mobiles of score fragments, and absolutely no written or verbal instructions. Installed for one year at the Cantor Arts Center Museum on the Stanford University campus it received 45 weekly performances from interpreters from around the world--solo artists and ensembles, acoustic and electronic musicians alike.

Participants ranged from New York's So Percussion Ensemble to former Arditti String Quartet violinist Graeme Jennings to the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra. This enhanced DVD includes Metaphysics Mix, a continuous 45-minute compilation of one-minute excerpts from each of these 45 extraordinary performances in glorious 5.1 DTS surround sound.

It also includes "There's No Sound In My Head," film-maker Robert Arnold's penetrating documentary on the project, with insightful interviews by composers Brian Ferneyhough, Paul Dresher, Ken Ueno, Erik Ulman, Chris Chafe, and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, and musicologists Karol Berger and Charles Kronengold. Applebaum, who himself adds commentary, is captured by director Arnold in the act of drawing in his studio.

The DVD also contains animated, scrolling versions of the original score--in both 8-minute and 16-minute durations--a visually stunning tour of the artwork, and also a performance kit to which viewers can make up their own sounds. Use it for your next gig, watch out for it wherever good documentaries are shown, or recalibrate your eyes and ears next time you head over to the art gallery.


I would find it rather unfruitful to decide if it was music or not.

- Brian Ferneyhough

This fits very well into [Applebaum's habit of] trying to push the boundaries of almost all the traditional expectations of ways that music is made...

- Paul Dresher

When I approach it each time I feel invited into a very rich, intricate world which is also some sort of a riddle...It's a guide with various answers and a lot of questions, because I think that spirit of questioning is something that’s present in a lot of his work. - Jaroslaw Kapuscinski

Um, this is the longest piece in terms of yardage.

- Brian McWhorter, trumpet, Beta Collide

The seriousness of his writing, the craziness of ideas, the messiness of his hair-do--everything in this composer speaks to me. The Metaphysics of Notation is a fabulous DVD, a treasure … A beautiful work to look at and a fascinating listen too.

- François Couture, Monsieur Delire

Applebaum's work is always inventive, generally interesting and usually just a little squirrely somehow.

- Kurt Gottschalk, Signal to Noise

'Push “Play” on this DVD, and you’ll encounter musicians who play instruments not to form a song, but to play with space. And there’s plenty of that in the Cantor, which supplies a long natural reverb. A one-minute excerpt from each musician’s performance was masterfully edited together by Mark to form one long, flowing, 45-minute piece complete with a slide show of the players. The music, which is available in surround sound or stereo, cross fades from thorny acoustic improv to laptop drones, from crazily playful accapella vocalizations to electric guitar abstractions, from piping flutes to gurgling synthesizers and so much more. There’s also a nicely filmed documentary on the piece and its composer, with his shock of wild hair and colorful glasses that match his attire, along with commentary from peers, friends and family. Any and all fans of free improvisation and avant-garde classical would do well to pick up a copy of this fine DVD.'

- Arcane Candy

"Easily one of the most interesting, beautiful, and thought-provoking artistic endeavors I've seen in the 21st century ... Simply put, this is a fascinating release that I highly recommend."
Kraig Lamper