IMSLP is a huge repository for public domain sheet music, which is wonderful if you’re looking for older music. Recently their servers had been down, due to a spurious legal challenge from the Music Publisher’s Association. Now they’re back up and running again, and you can find that there’s more than just old music on their servers! Luckily, there are some living composers who have chosen to post their works under Creative Commons licenses, giving us access to newer scores.
Michael Edward Edgerton is one of these living composers who posts his own scores on IMSLP. He is also a researcher into extended vocal techniques, and his works explore a kind of vocal parametric decoupling which includes precise notation of intraoral articulation points for consonants. Cantor’s Dust and Anaphora are two solo voice works worth checking out, if you’re interested at all in the possibilities of notation for vocal music!
It’s hard to know what is lost and what is gained in the move of parametrically decoupled actions from the dramatic choreography of the arms of string players to the movements of the tongue, vocal tract, and larynx of the singer, hidden inside the body. Of course the sonic exploration remains equally valid, but the visual performative intensity is occulted. We are presented with a kind of visual mystery in the performance of any vocal music, where the physicality of sound production is mostly interior and unknowable.