page 2 of 36
help   print   Index   start


Franco Mannino*

   The music notation reform proposed by Professor Wu Dao-Gong in his Treatise on the Hexagram is not based upon a radical revision of our customary system of writing and reading of the notes, but instead represents — in its development of the Pentagram theory — an evolution of the same. Another praiseworthy goal of the author's work is the integration he attempts to achieve between Western culture and that of the East.
   During the past few centuries, many attempts to reform the musical staff have been made by musicians who regarded the Pentagram notation as obsolete, but as Professor Wu Dao-Gong rightly sustains, "...thus if one seeks to completely overcome the past, it is necessary to fully retrieve its heredity."
   Starting from "Middle-c" and by means of the symmetric unfolding of the 2:1 ratio, adding one line both above to the Pentagram "Treble staff" and below to the "Bass staff", comprising the Pentagram "Great staff" of 11 lines, one forms the Hexagram "Great staff" of 13 lines. The reading of the notes thus becomes simplified, in that the addition of ledger lines is reduced, and the two clefs, each with the addition of one line, are read in the same way.
   Adding then to "Middle-c" according to the modalities of the binary system and of graduality, by evolving and duplicating a uniform staff one level above the Hexagram "Treble staff" and another uniform staff one level below the Hexagram "Bass staff", including between them the "Great staff" of 13 lines, one forms the "Complete staff" of 27 lines, by means of which all other clefs are in practice eliminated, except obviously for the treble and bass.
   This system, as Professor Wu Dao-Gong explains, is based upon three constituent elements: the theoretical and artistical achievements of Pentagram notation; the rational nucleus of the formal logic and of the mathematical logic; the system of philosophical thought and the deductive modality of the Yi Jing and the "Ba Gua".
   Concerning the developments of this Hexagram theory, which seems among other things to be extremely rigorous from a formal point of view, one should not exclude that it might be used in the future, also by Western musicians, perhaps with the addition of further contributions, as the author himself hopes.
   It must be said, however, that Western music has been based upon the Pentagram for centuries, as a result of which the rewriting of music in a different form from that in which it was conceived seems a rather awkward enterprise. Among other things, the difficulties involved would, in our estimation, be insurmountable, at least as far as our generation is concerned. For example: how would an elderly orchestra player react if he had to read Mozart on a Hexagram?
   It would instead be possible, in our opinion, to propose this kind of music notation to the new generations and to those who are not yet familiar with the use of the Pentagram. It is obvious that such an operation cannot be anticipated in a short time, but it should also be said that it would certainly not be the first "revolution" in the history of music.

Franco Mannino
Franco Mannino

* Maestro Franco Mannino: One of Italy's most highly distinguished artists by virtue of his comprehensiveness and wide experience. Besides having been an eminent pianist, he was active as a composer, conductor, administrator, talent scout, writer and playwright. He published over 600 compositions, and composed film scores for more than 100 films, collaborating with some of the world's most famous directors including Luchino Visconti, John Huston, Leonide Moguy, Mario Soldati and many others. He was the first Italian artist to be invited to conduct the orchestras of Peking and Shanghai. He conducted concerts and operas in theatres throughout Italy, from La Scala in Milan to the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. He held important posts in Italian and Western musical life, such as that of Artistic Director of the San Carlo Theatre of Naples, and Artistic Advisor and Permanent Conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, and when he relinquished the latter, the Canadian government ordered a Mannino Festival. He was a Member of the Santa Cecilia Academy of Rome as well as President of the highly renowned Philharmonic Academy of Bologna, etc. He received numerous Italian and international awards and prizes for his artistic achievements, as well as honours at the highest level from the Italian state authorities.

page 2 of 36