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-Theory of Motion- by Alex Sonnenfeld

  • Location: GRETCHEN / Berlin
  • Symposium: 2015
  • Event: Sample Music Festival
  • Topic: Scratching

Theory of Motion was employed as a theoretical and methodological framework for creating a new notation system for sample-based music, S-notation. According to this theory, performances can be transcribed using a set of parameter motions, including acoustic, dynamic, frequency, panning, and effects motions. In addition to the motion parameters, the new notation system involves an analysis of the sound source’s contents along its duration, called Anatonie.

The S-notation system was particularly developed for DJ scratching and turntablism, and was designed and implemented with both the musician and composer in mind. Although it is a complex notation format, it can be learned and potentially used in performance. Correspondingly, although turntablism is a complex musical form, S-notation can provide a detailed tool for composers to convey musical ideas. Finally, S-notation is also applicable for documenting and for teaching situations.

Sonnenfeld started with the development of S-notation in 1999. In 2003 he reached out to famous composer Karlheinz Stockhausen who mentored Sonnenfeld until his death in 2007. The notation is a transcription method which uses an own repertoire of notational symbols to describe the techniques of a turntablist and musicians who uses human motor skills to modulate sounds via fader, knobs or disks. S-notation basically follows the orthographical rules of classical music notation in order to be able to communicate with traditional musicians outside of turntablism and open doors for composition, education and research.

Alex Sonnenfeld is the founder of Sample Music Festival, an event that celebrates all aspects of sample-based music culture. Sonnenfeld's ambitious idea of creating a symposium of this kind gave birth to the festival.

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