A graphic score by contemporary composer George Crumb.
A Cantorinus (songbook) from the 1500s with an image of the Guidonian Hand, a mnemonic device used to help teach sight-singing.
Warm up: Each student came up with a set of symbols representing the different instruments and sounds they make in their bands.
Listening/looking: We watched an excerpt of a performance of Chinese composer Tan Dun's piece, "On Taoism," and students made a musical map of the piece. We also watched a short piece of the "Music From the Inside Out" documentary in which the Philadelphia Symphony musicians traveled to China, explored Chinese instruments, and listened to some of the sounds of everyday life there. In class, we discussed the relationship between the sounds we heard in the film and the non-traditional ways Tan Dun has musicians play their instruments. For example, the piano player was seen plucking the strings inside her grand piano instead of playing the keys. Some students talked about how they mapped the different parts of the composition to show instruments, voices, pitch, and silence.
Graphic scores: Bandleaders got handouts demonstrating simple graphic scores. We performed one all together as a class, then each band quickly came up with noises for another and shared it in class. We talked about how to show rests, or silences, how to show pitch, and how to keep time (spacing). The bands worked together to settle on symbols for each of their instruments and began thinking and talking about how to organize the page so the score can be read easily.
Finally, we took a quick look at some more complicated examples of graphic scores (two are shown above), as well as the oldest written song!
I found these examples here:
Here's more information about the Guidonian hand:http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Guidonian_hand#encyclopedia
And more about the oldest song: