Paper flowers, modelled after real species in the order Ranunculales, form the notation through their arrangement. A flower assigned to each performer and placed in front of them during the performance, to provide a physical connection to the icons of the notation. The notation framework is similar to chant notation – with the duration of the tones determined by the position of the flower (in place of a neume) on the lines providing relative pitch for tuned instruments or volume for percussion. For example, full view = single tone, side view with straight stem = held note, side view with undulating stem = melisma or free passage. A vine marker provides the mode final or the “anchor point” for the relative pitch, different for each vocal line. If sung, the tones may be vocalised freely without words or with the scientific name of the flower type. The three flower types are: Papaver (poppy) = orange, Anemone = pink with black centre, Ranunculus = pink. The score is painted in watercolour, and based on an adaptation of staves.
The work is divided into two sections by trading the flowers between two groups of performers, and beginning the score again with the new flower parts for each voice.
This work was conceived as part of a free public workshop and performance at Open Source Belfast in collaboration with the Belfast City Choir. The workshop focused on graphic notations and improvisation. Ranunculales was designed to be used in either single-site or network performance, with the potential for physical distribution of the flowers and score. The notation system is simple and inviting, for improvising vocalists of all levels.