Ad Libitum

– Out of Print –

In Denison Library, we have several medieval music books. Among them is a large Gradual and a Pontifical in original wood boards. The music is hand-written in Gregorian chant notation with four red staff lines and nice fat diamond-shaped notes. From our music professor, Chuck Kamm, we learned to interpret the notation and sing some sequences from the Gradual. We brought Prof. Mary Kay Duggan from U. C. Berkeley to give the Frederic W. Goudy Lecture and Workshop on early music printing and engraving. However, the original impetus for this semester’s book actually came from trying to understand John Cage’s 1969 book, Notations, in which he collected experimental graphic notations for contemporary music.

The students were asked to create a song cycle based on songs that were important to them, using them as a device to capture strong memories. By looking further at Theresa Sauer’s book, Notations 21, published in 2009, and other notational books, they developed graphic imagery as an aid to performing their song. We encourage you to read their song cycle aloud as a musical performance.

This musical book was composed, printed and bound by eight lively students in the Typography and the Book Arts class. The elegant typeface Centaur was used in 12 pt. for the text, which was printed by letterpress on luscious Nideggen paper. The text was first printed as a song cycle and then presented again as musically animated texts enlivened by graphic performance directions. The colorful graphics were hand-carved into linoleum, or drawn by hand and made into photopolymer printing plates. The dominant colors used were blues, reds and browns. The song cycle was bound as a single signature, while the performative section was bound as an accordion-fold. The bi-fold binding was covered with a Japanese bookcloth and Cave paper was attached to the cover.

We are grateful to Professor Chuck Kamm for his music theory presentations and for his helpful suggestions on the development of the musical performance aspect, and to Goudy Lecturer Mary Kay Duggan for sharing cases of music type and music engraving tools for us to experiment with during the workshop. Size: 6.25 x 6.25 inches. Edition number: 111 copies.

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