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You may be familiar with common Western musical notation, which identifies exactly what is to be played, the “notes” of music, on a ground of five lines. But this emphasis on individual notes is not the standard, and many musical traditions, spanning across time and place, depict the contours and nuances of compositions in artful ways. These notation systems, some of which are explored here, visualize an invisible experience””an auditory performance””that inherently defies representation.

Download the Notes on Notation PDF

About the Illustrator

Neal Peterson is an artist based in Minneapolis. His recent projects include a series of photo collages of cities inspired by Buddhist mandalas, a sound and video installation about propaganda in Tibet, and a global pencil dissemination aimed at inspiring creativity and raising awareness of education inequality.