Organic transcription is a live process of drawing music as it unfolds in time, producing expressive, analytical art. Embodying rhetorical and organic metaphors for musical structure, the analyst sets constraints that code drawing elements to musical behaviours within chosen parameters.
“Organic transcription” was named for the lively engagement of the music by the analyst, who mimes what is heard with physical gestures, at once spontaneous and regulated, to capture specific types of musical information on paper, canvas, computer screen or other surface.
As well, “organic” evokes the animated, recursive, branched or limbed appearances transcriptions can take on in response to music with polarities, compromised symmetries, and recursive sub-division. (For example, in 18 th or 19 th -century, western tonal music, classical sonata-form narratives spawn vibrant, loosely fractal forests of sentential trees, hair-splitting liquidation trailers, and looping cadential vines.)
For music theorists, organic transcription can offer concise and flexible ways of representing non-linear musical processes. Multiple musical paths can run straight, or loop, spiral, wrinkle, splice, nest, and converge in response to progressive, cyclic, reminiscent, elided, interpolated, parenthetical and climactic, musical events. If a nostalgic memory or a grand apotheosis is musically imaginable, it may be image-able through organic transcription.
Performers can gain fresh, improvisatory, compositional perspectives from the act of organic transcription. The process of drawing out unique, synoptic, conceptual scores may support internalization of repertoire, leading to the delight of regenerating (rather than reciting) music in performance.