Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Vickery, L. (2018). Some approaches to representing sound with colour and shape. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Technologies for Music Notation and Representation (pp. 165-173). Montreal, Canada: Concordia University. Available here


In recent times much of the practice of musical notation and representation has begun a gradual migration away from the monochrome standard that existed since the emergence of printed Non-Western music in the 16th century, towards the full colour pallet afforded by modern printers and computer screens. This move has expanded the possibilities available for the representation of information in the musical score. Such an expansion is arguably necessitated by the growth of new musical techniques favouring musical phenomena that were previously poorly captured by traditional Western musical notation. As time-critical form of visualisation there is a strong imperative for the musical score to employ symbols that signify sonic events and the method of their execution with maximal efficiency. One important goal in such efficiency is “semantic soundness”: the degree to which graphical representations makes inherent sense to the reader. This paper explores the implications of recent research into cross-modal colour-to-sound and shape-to sound mappings for the application of colour and shape in musical scores. The paper also revisits Simon Emmerson’s Super-Score concept as a means to accommodate multiple synchronised forms of sonic representation (the spectrogram and spectral descriptors for example) together with alternative notational approaches (gestural, action-based and graphical for example) in a single digital document.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.