What is a note in music? | Juan Maria Solare
What is a note?
What is a note? | Juan Maria Solare
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Juan María Solare composer & pianist
Juan Maria Solare - composer and pianist. Foto: Lea Dietrich

What is a note (in music)?

by Juan María Solare

We all agree that note is a four-letter word, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. But a healthy diversity about further definitions begin at this point. Yes, you can open your dictionary, but a creative definition is what is needed.

I have just launched the project "One-note music" for pianist Juan María Solare. The project will be premiered at the university of Bremen, Germany, on June 24th, 2014 [previously scheduled for 17th, changed by the venue]. The deadline for submissions is May 25th, 2014. Please submit through the official channel (submission conditions are here: One-Note Piano Music).

One of the lines of this call for works reads:

- Pieces must have only one note. How to define "note" is left to the composer's imagination (and believe me: that's not a banal task).

Depending of how you define it, a note can be a single pitch, but also a pitch-class set (i.e. all available C sharps), a noise without pitch, one attack, one sound event (also a complex one, with inner changes)... Is the repetition of a single pitch a "note"? Can we consider that a cluster is a note? Is a glissando or a bend still a "note"? Is a vibrato one note or more (since there are several frequencies involved)?

These and other questions are the kind of issues that might call the attention of minimal music musicologists. Because there is no doubt whatever about something else: if minimal music implies to reduce the means to a minimum, this project is actually at the bottom line of reduction.

How would you -gentle-reader- define note, what the heck is a note? Please leave your opinion below (in any language except harsh). If you want to participate in the project and contribute a piece of One-Note Music for Piano, head for One-Note Piano Music.
Copyright © Juan María Solare 2014, all rights reserved
What is a note in music? | Juan Maria Solare
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Selected composers + pieces

(about my selection criteria,
an important article is coming soon)

Patricio Villarejo: ATONANU
Aaron Robinson: ONE-NOTE for PIANO
David Grant: for
Blair Whittington: Singularity
Marissa DiPronio: Three Interludes on E
Chaz Stuart: red stare
Roy D. Magnuson: Solstice VIII
Luca Miti: Prelude
David Bohn: 27.5, with coloration
N.V. Zielinski: a note on the economics of creativity
Richard Nye: Underworld
David Drexler: Sunset
Joseph Bohigian: Smack
Justin Merritt: Sustained Inharmonicity
Christoffer Schunk: One-Note Piano Piece
Rodrigo Baggio: Interchange (3rd piece from "Bond")
Juan Manuel Abras: ONLY ONE NOTE
Juan María Solare: Buzzy Moment
D. Edward Davis: dash
Helga Beier: Regen ...
Erik Carlson: 14th Piece for Piano
Hinse Mutter: ONE
Alexis Porfiriadis: one note is more than one note
Alexander Khubeev: Jamais vu
Michael R. Dobinson: note F - quantum behaviour
Kala Pierson: Harmonic Arc
Samuel Stokes: Dance of the Revolving Gears
Hrachya Yessayan: The Message

The concert takes place on Tuesday, 24 June 2014, at the Theatersaal of the University of Bremen (Germany)