Exhibition "Sound in Signs"

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Exhibition "Sound in Signs"
Exhibition "Sound in Signs"

The exhibition "Sound in Signs" from 16 June until 1 October, 2017, in the National Library's of Latvia level I exhibition halls. The exhibition makes it possible to trace the progress of musical notation over centuries, transcribing sonic phenomena into notation symbols. Free admission.

The "Sound in Signs" exhibition is a unique event in Latvia's cultural space – it makes it possible to trace the progress of musical notation, the tradition, shaped over centuries, of transcribing sonic phenomena into notation symbols.

Musical notation consists of identifiable graphic symbols through which music is notated. Over time, these have been used to register parameters such as pitch, note value and dynamics. On the one hand – musical notation is intended to document already known compositions and replace the oral transmission process with which a particular piece of music was memorised by singing or playing it to others. On the other hand – its purpose is the written representation of new melodies and other musical ideas. Thus, musical notation allows the expression of creative ideas, without having to play them, but it enables composers to create large-scale and complex compositions.

It can be said that, even up to the 19th century, the music of each era had its own, most appropriate notation, which was understood by musicians of the time who knew how to ‘translate’ it into live singing or playing. Only in the 19th century was the idea of a musical score implemented, when the entire sound process – information about tempo, time signature, dynamics, pitch, rhythm, instrumentation, phrasing – is notated onto paper. However, even then it could not be said that everything was written down. In the words of composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): "What is best in music is not to be found in the notes".

The exhibition utilises materials from the National Library of Latvia, Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, Abbey Library of Einsiedeln, University and State Library Düsseldorf, Bavarian State Library and authors' personal archives.

Exhibition organiser: National Library of Latvia
Exhibition curators: Rolands Kronlaks, Jānis Petraškevičs, Brigita Zelča-Aispure
Exhibition texts, selection of materials: Rolands Kronlaks, Jānis Petraškevičs, Guntars Prānis
Exhibition design: Anete Krūmiņa


26. VI – 31. VIII
Mon., Sat. 10.00–17.00
Tues., Thurs. 9.00-17.00
Wed., Fri. 12.00–20.00
Sun. closed

From 1. IX
Mon–Fri 9.00–20.00
Sat–Sun 10.00–17.00