With the help of: Fire Department Porto, Steinway Berlin, German Museum Munich, Elektronmusikstudion Stockholm and Adam Audio
Picture taken at the electric power room of the German Museum

N. 24 La naissance de la lumière à partir de l’esprit du feu (Porto / Stockholm)

Percussion: Magdalena Meitzner, aerophones: Paul Pignon, realisation: Christian Dimpker

N. 16 (2015) Drei Miniaturen nach Nietzsche (London / Stuttgart)

Soprano: Phoebe Pimlott, piano: Alex Waite

A video of the recording can be accessed here

N. 19 (2016) Utopia III & N. 6 (2012) Klanggruppen (London / Berlin)

Soprano: Phoebe Pimlott, violoncello: Tilman Kanitz

A video of the recording can be accessed here

N. 25/1 (2018) Utopia V (Stuttgart)

Piano: Alex Waite

N. 25/2 (2018) Klavierstück V (Stuttgart)

Piano: Alex Waite

N. 25/3 (2018) Utopia V | Klavierstück V (Stuttgart)

Piano: Alex Waite

N. 6 (2012) Klanggruppen (Berlin)

Violoncello: Tilman Kanitz

N. 19 (2016) Utopia III (London)

Soprano: Phoebe Pimlott

N. 21 (2017) Warenwirtschaft (Hamburg)

Player 1: Sayaka Nojiri, player 2: Sabrina Ma, player 3: Robert Schwarz

N. 25/1 (2018) Utopia V (Melbourne)

Pianist: Alex Waite

N. 19 (2016) Utopia III & N. 6 (2012) Klanggruppen (Berlin / Hamburg)

Soprano: Phoebe Pimlott, violoncello: Saerom Park Foucher

N. 14 (2014, rev. 2018) Utopia (omaggio a Luciano Berio) (Twin Cities)

Flute: James DeVoll

N. 5 (2011) Studies on the notation of electroacoustic music (Berlin)

Realisation: Emad Parandian, Robert Schwarz, Francisca Gonçalves & Christian Dimpker

N. 20 (2016) String quartet II “MicrosCopy” (Porto)

Ensemble: Quarteto de Matosinhos, sound directors: Rui Penha et al.

N. 21 (2017) Warenwirtschaft (Berlin)

Player 1: Sayaka Nojiri, player 2: Sabrina Ma, player 3: Robert Schwarz

N. 19 (2017) Utopia III: For female voice (Berlin)

Soprano: Phoebe Pimlott

N. 21 (2017) Warenwirtschaft (Tokyo)

Player 1 & 2: Sayaka Nojiri, player 3: Robert Schwarz

N. 10 (2013) Sýnthesis (Cologne)

Realisation: Christian Dimpker

N. 3 (2010, rev. 2011-12) Zu vier Händen – Interventionen für Konzertflügel (Stade)

Piano: Hanni Liang, assistance: Tae-Min Hyun

N. 11 (2013) String quartet I (Sibiu)

Ensemble: ConTempo String Quartet

N. 6 (2012) Klanggruppen (Hamburg)

Violoncello: Saerom Park Foucher

N. 1 (2010, rev. 2011-12) Tatsachen in zwei Sätzen (Hamburg)

Violin: Eugene Nakamura

Konstrukte | Rauschen | Rückkopplung (2008/9)


Kinetic notations for the visual and performing art can be understood as a non-systematic, intuitive and fundamental transgression of composition to the theatre, visual arts and dance. It will not only enable composers to leave the boundaries of music, but also visual artist, choreographers and theatre / opera directors to approach the fields they work in from a musical perspective, to create ex obscuritate, facilitate analyses and preserve their work for future generations.

This work is necessary in order to make notation a truly autonomous art form that is at the same time able to unite the arts. It is necessary because without a systematic study of these fields, one cannot produce fully notated operas, theatre works or visual performances / installations. A development work of this kind is a highly complex and theoretical issue that can only be executed limitedly in an ad hoc manner. I have experienced this myself when composing the first substantially extra-musical works Aus den Werkstätten des Lichts and Light quartet “Die Zusammensetzung der Welt”. Despite having previously written an in-depth research work on light kinetics, which enabled me to compose such sophisticated light works, I was not yet in possession of the main instruments of this field. So in order to start with a new piece, I first had to create the instruments – as Otto Piene created his Light ballet machines – then determine the articulations of these instruments, devise methods of notation and then only be able to start with the composition process. This procedure is very demanding, as it would be if a composer would first have to imagine and build a violin, then a violoncello et al., then think about how to play the instruments and how to notate these articulations; before actually starting with the work itself.

Therefore, it is essential to execute extensive research on the topic of extra-musical notation that enables composers and other artists to explore extra-musical instruments by means of notation. But first of all, it needs to be determined which fields are suitable for utilising notation as a method of creation: the starting point, as its tradition comprises the first idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk and it unites numerous art forms in its extended sense, is the music theatre. The different elements of a theatrical work are 1. light (including light choreographies), 2. stage design (including new media art, the creation of temporary and cybernetic sculptures as well as video art), 3. the drama itself (including costumes, expression, gestures, mimics and basic movement as well as performance art) and 4. dance / choreography (as the most sophisticated form of movement). However, using the music theatre as a starting point does not mean that these elements can only be applied to operatic works, but they may also be used in other kinds of performances as well as for installations. Quite obviously, these points lack a number of techniques associated with the visual arts and literature, such as painting, photography, the act of writing and maybe the full extent of what it means to create a sculpture (even though some parts will be discussed with regard to point 2), but include light and new media art. In order to limit the scope of this work, painting will not be discussed at this point, even though initial attempts to discuss its notation already exist. This is because these contributions are negligible, while the tradition of painting is (other than that of light and media art) massive and the techniques highly complex. Moreover, the act of painting is time-based, but the final product is, in most cases, not temporal, spatial or momentary. Similar arguments can be considered for the exclusion of literary writing (which may also be considered a kind of notation referred to as descriptive notation) and, to a certain extent, photography. In this work, the focus is laid on techniques that are stronger related to music (theatre) and sound art, i.e. time-based or at least spatial / momentary art forms. This is the reason why painting / photography / writing notation is not discussed here, but spared for a possible continuation of this treatise.

All chapters are structured in the same way. Firstly, they will comprise an overview of previous methods of notation already employed in the respective field. Secondly, the techniques of the specific field will be discussed. Thirdly, an art historic overview will be given. The notational methods will be presented alongside the presentation of the techniques / art works. This treatise is supposed to show which manifold connections between the arts notation has already created as well as encourage other researchers and artists to extend it further in order to secure its future viability, to emphasise its status as an autonomous art and to continually unite all art forms. It shall also serve as an inspiration to artists from other fields and encourage them to work on the unification of the arts, either by also using notation to preserve and create their works in a more substantial way or by making them use their respective techniques in order to profoundly transverse the boundaries of their artistic discipline (e.g. by painters drawing symphonies or authors writing dances). The different art forms have long enough existed as separate entities and artists been divided for too long. It is time to unite them in order to show people of all societies and backgrounds that they are not distinct from each other, but should rather consider themselves as belonging to a single, related and diverse entity called life.

The treatise is due to be published in 2022.

In the study of music, most of the extended instrumental playing techniques, as well as electroacoustic music in general, are still deprived of conventional methods of notation. In order to facilitate the utilisation of these musical elements, this book develops a coherent and consistent notation system. It contains chapters on string instruments, wind instruments, percussion instruments, plucked instruments, keyboard instruments, and vocal techniques, as well as sound synthesis, audio processing, and sound recording. All relevant techniques are explained in detail. Previous methods of their notation are presented and discussed, as well as a simple and exact method of notation that may be combined with the traditional notation suggested for every technique. The book can be used as a guide on extended and electroacoustic instrumentation for composition students and lecturers, musicologists, composers, performers, music arrangers, sound engineers, and editors. Composers interested in augmented means of sound production are encouraged to employ the suggested system, elaborate it, or use it as a source of inspiration.

Abstract (notated) electroacoustic music

Basically, there are only very few examples of electroacoustic notation, most of them having been conceived briefly after World War II. The reasons are that electroacoustic processes are very complex and it is hard to depict them in a score. Moreover, it is also not necessary to do so as the composer – in opposition to instrumental music – may operate all sound producers himself and, by doing so, become an interpreter of his own music. Hence an electroacoustic composer is able to produce very complex works without any help.

So if this is possible, why should one notate electroacoustic music? First of all, one needs to understand that this form of electroacoustic music is considered to be an alternative to »traditional« electroacoustic music and not a replacement. One also needs to acknowledge that it is not possible to produce as complex pieces as it is possible by means of audio software. This is due to that the paper size restricts the number of parallel processes. Even though there have been various attempts to overcome such restrictions (e. g. Ligeti’s Apparitions, Stockhausen’s Punkte or Gruppen as well as Boulez’s Notation I-IV), it needs to be acknowledged that the number of concurrent events has to be limited. This is because an extremely large score becomes – either due to its sheer size or the number of simultaneous events – unreadable, which compromises its instantaneous comprehension, and hence sight-reading (in terms of live-electronic music or the reception of electroacoustic music).

On the other hand notated electroacoustic music offers a special visual level that facilitates analysing the piece. I believe that this kind of clear and comprehensible accessibility may only be offered through the visual depiction of music by means of a score. Moreover, a score adds a unique interrelated visual artwork to an electroacoustic piece and creates an additional level of perception because one can now read and listen to a piece of music at the same time. Personally, I consider this form of cognition as the most beautiful way of perceiving a musical work. Finally, a score enables you to create versions/interpretations of the same piece. Hence one can explore different insights into the same piece and detach it from the past by re-creating it in the present.

For these reasons, and because my sole focus is the notation of music, I decided to develop a system of notation for electroacoustic music (and unconventional instrumental playing techniques). The result of this decision is a treatise called Extended notation – The depiction of the unconventional. The coherent and consistent system developed in this treatise adheres to a number of criteria. In order to limit the scope of this essay, I will only outline them briefly: the methods of notation are supposed to be 1. as exact as possible and 2. as simple as possible. Moreover, they may 3. not be contradictory to traditional notation, but should instead extend and be closely related to it. Finally, in order to guarantee that the additions are legitimate, they need to be compatible with, and distinct from, all other signs of the system.

When willing to notate electroacoustic processes, one needs to take into account that there are barely any conventions and few previous examples of notation, most of them being contradictory to the above criteria. Furthermore, various compositions that involve electroacoustic means of sound production, transformation or modulation, require the utilisation of particular synthesisers, effects units or special audio software. However, due to the rapid evolution of technology, it is quite probable these will become obsolete. This development can be compared to the history of acoustic instruments. Performances that involve Renaissance instruments, such as soprano cromornes or tenor shawms, are rare because these types of instruments are no longer part of the orchestral apparatus. With regard to electroacoustics, it is at present hard to determine whether a particular synthesiser will be part of the electroacoustic apparatus of the future. To give an example, it is possible that the Yamaha DX 7 II-FD, the Roland D-50 or the Yamaha effects unit SPX 900 Stockhausen employs in Invasion-Explosion mit Abschied will still be available when this work is performed in a century or two. However, it is rather unrealistic since the manufacture of these devices has already ceased. In fact, many synthesiser types have already become extinct and the usefulness of scores that involve these instruments is compromised by them having been written specifically for equipment that is now obsolete.

Therefore, in Extended notation, the notation of electroacoustic music is not achieved by the depiction of particular synthesisers, effects units or microphone models. Instead, the fundamental processes and parameters of electroacoustic sound production, transformation and modulation are examined and a notation system developed on this basis. By doing so, the developments rest upon accessible and sound knowledge that will most probably be preserved. Hence the processes the methods depict remain reproducible, can be realised without direct contact to the composer and are synthesiser-, device- and software-independent.



Christian Dimpker ist Komponist und Kunsttheoretiker mit akademischen Studien in Philosophie, Geschichte und Sound Studies sowie Promotion in der Musikwissenschaft/Komposition. Seine Kompositionen erforschen unkonventionelle Bereiche der Notation. Um dazu in der Lage zu sein hat er ein weitreichendes Notationssystem für erweiterte instrumentale Spieltechniken und die elektroakustische Musik entwickelt. Die Abhandlung mit dem Titel Extended notation: The depiction of the unconventional wird vom LIT Verlag herausgegeben. Derzeit weitet er seine Arbeit auf die Bereiche Bildende Kunst, Theater und Bewegung aus. Das Resultat wird eine neue Abhandlung mit dem Titel Kinetic notations for the visual and performing arts sein und 2022 vom Verlag für moderne Kunst veröffentlicht werden. Dimpker hat zahlreiche Auszeichnungen und Stipendien für seine Arbeit bekommen (u. a. Cité des Arts Paris, Elektronmusikstudion, SWR Experimentalstudio, St. John’s Smith Square, Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, RWE/innogy Stiftung, Deutsche Künstlerhilfe, Tokyo Arts and Space oder CMMR Konferenz), seine Stücke wurden in Deutschland, Japan, Rumänien, Spanien, Portugal, den USA und Australien von Mitgliedern renommierter Ensembles wie Elision, 2e2m oder Ensemble Resonanz aufgeführt. Zudem hat er als Notensetzer Helmut Lachenmanns Schreiben für Breitkopf & Härtel gesetzt sowie in Großbritannien, Deutschland und Hongkong gelehrt.



Christian Dimpker is a composer and art theorist with academic studies in Philosophy, History and Sound Studies as well as a doctoral dissertation in Musicology / Composition. His compositions explore unconventional fields of notation. In order to be able to do this, he has developed an extensive notation system for extended playing techniques as well as electroacoustic music. This treatise with the title Extended Notation: The Depiction of the Unconventional has been released by the LIT Verlag publishers. Currently, he further extends this research to the fields of visual arts, theatre and movement. The result will be a new treatise entitled Kinetic notations for the visual and performing arts. It will be released in 2022 by the VfmK publishers. Dimpker has received numerous awards and grants for his works (inter alia Cité des Arts Paris, Elektronmusikstudion, SWR Experimentalstudio, St John’s Smith Square, Künstlerdorf Schöppingen Foundation, RWE/innogy foundation, German Artist Fund, State of Berlin, Tokyo Arts and Space or CMMR conference), while his pieces have been performed in Germany, Japan, Romania, Spain, Portugal, the USA and Australia by renowned ensembles, such as Elision, 2e2m or Resonanz. Engraving works include Helmut Lachenmann’s Schreiben for Breitkopf & Härtel and teaching assignments have been held in the UK, Germany and Hong Kong.

Curriculum vitae


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