1985 – 2007
The Music Notation Modernization Association (MNMA) was the predecessor of the Music Notation Project. It was founded in 1985 by Thomas Reed as an international nonprofit organization dedicated to modernizing/improving music notation. The goal was to address the shortcomings of traditional music notation that “make reading music substantially more difficult than necessary, pose unwarranted hardships for musicians, and prevent many young people from becoming fluent music readers.”
The membership of the MNMA included musicians, teachers, composers, and notation inventors from around the world. At its height it numbered about 130 individuals from 17 different countries (see the partial list below).
The Music Notation Project was established in January of 2008 to carry on the work begun by the MNMA. (See our first blog post for more info.)
Some former Chinese MNMA members including 甘健秋 (Jianqiu Gan) independently formed the China Music Notation Academy in November of 2007. They held a conference in Chengdu, Sichuan, China in August of 2008.
The MNMA conducted a research project that entailed collecting and evaluating a large number of alternative notation systems. The goal was to help determine which notation system or systems were the most promising as an alternative to, or potential replacement of, traditional notation. This effort spanned several years and was concluded in 1999.
Publications and Conferences
The MNMA published books, conference proceedings, and dozens of quarterly newsletters. These publications document hundreds of music notation systems, extensive debates about improving music notation, and the MNMA’s research project.
- Music Notation News – Quarterly newsletter, 1986-2004, edited by Thomas. S. Reed
- Music Notation Evaluation Procedure – by Douglas Keislar (1994)
- Directory of Music Notation Proposals – by Thomas S. Reed (1997)
- Test for New Notation Systems – by Thomas. S. Reed and D. F. Keislar (1999)
The MNMA held five international conferences over the course of its history, about one every three years. They were an opportunity for MNMA members to meet one another and exchange ideas face to face. Attendees convened from all over the world to present papers on topics related to music notation. These papers were published in conference proceedings.
- Norwich, England, 1988 – Edited by Thomas S. Reed (1991)
- Saint Louis, USA, 1991 – Edited by Thomas S. Reed (1994)
- Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1994 – Edited by Thomas S. Reed (1999)
- Cebu City, Philippines, 1997 – Edited by Thomas S. Reed (2000)
- Chicago, USA, 2003 – Proceedings were not published.
Before Thomas Reed founded the MNMA, he published a “Musical Six-Six Newsletter” for a number of years. Unfortunately, back issues of this publication are no longer available.
How to Get MNMA Publications
A number of major universities carry the MNMA’s publications and conference proceedings in their libraries, or they may be ordered from the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota.
Libraries that carried Music Notation News:
- Harvard University
- New York Public Library
- SUNY at Buffalo
- Trent Park Library
- University of California, Berkeley (EBSCO)
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of Michigan (SWETS)
- University of Virginia
MNMA Website and Internet Presence
The MNMA website was originally developed by Michael Laschober. In March of 2004 Paul Morris re-designed the site and took over the reins as webmaster. See the archive of news from the MNMA website. The MNMA Forum was initiated in October of 2004. It has now become the Music Notation Project’s Forum.
Partial MNMA Membership List
(From January 2005.)
Casburn, Frank William
Forrest, Kenneth S.
de Buur, Jeanette
Mitchell, Blake M.Ukraine