Compose a graphic score

Graphic scores can very artistic and imaginative. They allow you to explore different ideas about art, objects, emotions and environments. Graphic scores can use all sorts of different images such as shapes, squiggles, letters, words and pictures. These can be used to represent things such as pitch, dynamics, timbre, tempo, texture or even silence.

Step 1: Design and theme

What will your graphic score look like? Traditional musical notation is read from left to right moving from top to bottom just like the words on this page. However when designing a graphic score you can make up your own rules.

Maybe you would like your graphic score to go from right to left, or bottom to top, or in a circle? It could tell the performer to play everything all at once, or turn the page around, or maybe there are no rules? You can be as free and imaginative as you like.

Does your graphic score have a theme? How can this inspire your design?

Step 2: Materials

What are you going to use to make you graphic score? They can be created on paper or cardboard using pens, pencils, paint or sticking things to it, it is up to you. You might decide that you’d like to use a computer instead, this is absolutely fine.

Step 3: Instruments and objects

Think about the person who will be playing your composition. Can they choose any object they like? Or would you like them to find specific objects to use? Not everyone will have the same items available but you could give instructions on the materials to use such as wood, plastic, glass, humans etc.

Step 4: Instructions

Does your graphic score have instructions for the performer? These can be written on the score or as a separate piece of paper. They could tell the performer to do different things. For example it could tell them to swap instruments with someone else, say a word, flip a coin or roll a dice to make a decision, let your imagination run wild!

Step 5: Complete

It’s time to create your graphic score. Once you have finished it and added any instructions, you can think of a name to call it.

Ask an adult take a photograph, scan, or save the file of the graphic score and upload it to our gallery.

Please email your graphic score to