Sophia Dorfsman is currently preoccupied with the notion of re-complexifying the design of modern recipes. To view this endeavor of hers so far, please revisit this site on a screen with a width greater than its height. 

Her email is, should you want to exchange greetings, thoughts or, of course, recipes. 

I have been mulling over the purpose of notation, the format of knowledge, the act of simplifying, the inconsistencies in routine and the documentation of the ephemeral. Within this network of interests, I have engaged with the thoughts of authors, academics and artists to further develop my own. I am making a conscious effort to keep an ever-expanding list of my influences and inspirations for this research. It is through this contamination of perspectives that I hope to gain new insights on the power and potential of recipes.

There are unexpected similarities and striking metaphors that arise from intersecting one practice to another. The two often have a lot to learn from each other. I proceed to look towards other disciplines with a view keenly pointing back to recipes. 

“Similar to the manner in which a great actor interprets the lines given to a character in a play into a living performance, or a musician interprets the notes written in the score into the sounds of an instrument, or a dancer interprets the rhythms of a musical performance into bodily motion, or a poet interprets the meanings of lived experience into language, a chef interprets the qualities of edible materials into gustatory experiences and sensory events.” Robert T. Valgenti, Cooking as Interpretation

“Metaphor is a way of telling truth far greater than scientific data.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

My studies are grounded by a few key points: cooking, recipes, musical scores, choreology, words and maps. On this page, I explore those terms in that order. I raise questions by reflecting on various quotes and ideas in an effort to expand upon and beyond each of their definitions. Consider all the following text (distinct yet interwoven ideas, ordered via quotes and excerpts) as the basis to a forthcoming book.

I suspect that the process of sustaining this inquiry of mine is just as valuable as any end product that will result from it. The research in and of itself is for now the heart of the project—maybe even the whole body.

“The knowing involved in making a cake is ‘contained’ not simply ‘in my head’ but in my hands, my wrists, my eyes and nose as well. The phrase ‘bodily knowledge’ is not a metaphor. It is an acknowledgement of the fact that I know things literally with my body, that I, ‘as’ my hands, know when the bread dough is sufficiently kneaded, and I ‘as’ my nose know when the pie is done.” Lisa Heldke, Foodmaking as a Thoughtful Practice

“ master a range of skills any competent jazz player has at his command is to have a habitual knowledge – one might equally say a rememberance – in the hands.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“The Koreans have a description for the specific qualities of a person’s cooking which translates as something like ‘the taste of your hands’; they know I suppose, that knowledge rests in muscle and bone, which is never written down.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

I would like to acknowledge that most of the perspectives I’ve engaged with have been rooted in Western ways of thinking. 

“Only when placed in the context of skills gained through prior experience does information specify a route that is comprehensible and that can practicably be followed, and only a route so specified can lead to knowledge. It is in this sense that all knowledge is founded in skill.” Tim Ingold, Anthropology and/as Education

“Cookbooks are experiential, and that’s why I love them. You’re seeing into a mind at work, yes, but also a body at work. Food is never a purely intellectual exercise (or, when it is, it’s boring).” Alicia Kennedy, On Cookbooks

But what if we did not propogate the mind-body dichotomy?

“Get to grips with the demands of your ingredients and your appetite rather than the words on the cookbook page.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

“...knowledge is a product of doing and is a discovery of doings.” John Cochran on Levi Bryant, Object Oriented Cookery

It would be difficult to study recipes if I didn’t love the act they represent. Cooking is something I have great familiarity with and affection for. I learned the basics from my mom. In the many years of now cooking for myself, I keep up the process of trial and error. Cooking is a skill I’m constantly sharpening, unlike the one knife to my name. I have what John Cochran calls a home amateur culinary praxis.

“...the amateur is free of the restraints of ‘knowledge and skill’ to experience the ‘phase space’ of objects. This is not to say an amateur is ignorant, that he lacks knowledge. No, the amateur acts out of affirmation. Here affirmation is instinct, experience and the acknowledgement of webs of objects that act autonomously and in aggregate.” John Cochran, Object Oriented Cookery

“The best cooks you know didn’t become the best cooks you know by memorizing instructions. They learned to follow their own instincts and ideas of what was delicious to them, unthethered by the rules and restrictions of recipes.” David Chang, Cooking at Home

“The first mindset is pretty common. Take good notes. Make tiny changes. Repeat. Improve. Incrementally move along the asymptote. Test and measure. The other mindset is rare indeed. Do things that might not work. Develop new assertions. Go past the edges to unexplored territory. Try to figure out why things are the way they are. Fail often. Blaze a trail. After all, it’s a test kitchen, not a Michelin restaurant... But real innovation comes from the science of ‘this might not work.’” Seth Godin, The test kitchen mindsets

What is the relationship that both amateurs and professionals have with recipes? Are my intentions applicable to the professional realm at all? Perhaps my lack of experience in that type of environment makes me exclaim “no” without pause.  

“And when I cook, I never measure or weigh anything. I cook by vibration. I can tell by the look and smell of it. Most of the ingredients in this book are approximate. … Different strokes for different folks. Do your thing your way.” Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor

“The best meals... are fashioned with wisdom and experience and are shaded, always, with spontaneity. So don’t chart every turn before going to the market, and don’t feel you must follow a recipe slavishly.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

The way I cook is very intuitive. Even developing the idea of what I want to make is so. I tend to conceptualize my favorite meals based on the placement of ingredients on a shelf, in the store, my cabinet or fridge. The steps I take to make a dish are loosely set out in front of me. I enter the experience expecting detours. I am not keen on using objects to specifically measure any ingredient or time, unless I’m baking or soft-boiling an egg. Rather, I rely on my own bodily senses.

“If creativity is not to be subjected to unnecessary rules and prescriptions, the principle intuition . . . instead of cookbook (as Beuys calls one of his works) can be applied to the culinary art of living to set cooking practice free from the unimaginative and uncreative applications of recipes.” Harald Lemke, Joseph Beuys: Gastrosophical Aesthetics

“To follow a recipe is to read someone else’s script.” David Chang, Cooking at Home

This would be a good place for a discourse on cookbooks, before going into recipes without which such a book wouldn’t exist. What is here now is just the beginning. 

“She could ‘read’ her cookbooks because they carried elements that fired her imagination, that drew her in, that caused her to reflect on her own behavior (as a cook), and to construct her identity...” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

Talk more about the narrative power held within cookbooks. 

“Cookbooks will give you ideas, but the market will give you dinner.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

“Ingredients have to be grown, harvested and prepared by hand: quails and turkeys killed, eggs slowly gathered as the hens lay and then preserved over months; nuts one by one roasted, shelled and the bitter inner skin removed. Food in this culture and time can fill - and use up - a whole life, and part of the point of the recipes is to speak to the gap between our worlds and theirs. The recipes themselves are magic realist devices - making strange the ordinary and making the magical real by giving us a set of rules which will apparently reproduce it.” Nicola Humble, The Literature of Food

“Behind these bodies of text there is a maker and his urgency to convey his specific knowledge.” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

“Recipes do not make food taste good; people do.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Any cook will inevitably take a personal approach to the dish they intend to make. Their own biases, moods, tastes, associations, preferences and past experiences will have an effect. No matter how hard that cook tries to reproduce the dish exactly as called for, it will never turn out the same as the one the recipe was derived from. If there is so much variation in what we cook, then why should recipes push for uniformity?

“ is hard to generalize about it given the wide range of practices and cuisines, and the even wider range of tastes.” David Kaplan, Food Philosophy

“Try telling an Italian that their recipes are fluid and adaptable, you might think, but the fact of the matter is that writing a recipe is a form of translation, from a physical act to a verbal record. Something might always be lost in that process, but just the fact of acknowledging that loss – the imprecision of our technical language, the allowance for differences in ingredient and utensil – can let us find it again, or something new.” Thom Eagle, in Vittles

How could we imagine that “something new”?

“I often feel guilty when writing recipes. To capture what one can of elusive, changing experience... and imprison it in a chilly formula, composed of cups, tablespoons, inches and oven temperatures, is like robbing a bird of flight.” Richard Olney

“In her cookbook-memoir, Bong Mom’s Cookbook, Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta cheekily declares that ‘it is a bit difficult to emulate the taste of the roadside aloor [potato] chop at home because you lack basic ingredients like dust, grime and the blackened oil that every popular shop swears by’.” Supriya Roychoudhury, in Vittles

Recipes as we presently know them (a list of ingredients followed by didactic language, normally paired with a brief explanation) are efficient. They reveal a clear way and reason to get to B from A.

“The recipe form we are most familiar with today—the list of ingredients and instructions on how to compile them—actually was not conventionalized until 1887 with the publication of The Boston Cookbook, which ‘tabulated ingredients at the head of each recipe and offered [details] to guide the housewife who might be confused by the meaning of ‘butter the size of an egg.’” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

This notion of precision will be revisited.

“A recipe is supposed to be a formula, a means prescribed for producing a desired result, whether that be an atomic weapon, a well-trained Pekingese, or an omelet. There can be no frills about it, no ambiguities… and above all no ‘little secrets’.” M.F.K. Fisher, The Anatomy of a Recipe

“Everything is supposed to be perfectly designed in order to avoid mistakes and accidents.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisation in Cooking and Tasting

But they do not account for the inevitable deviations from the proposed trajectory which are frequent occurrences within the home kitchen. When it seems like there is only one right way to do something, individuality is subtly discouraged and a cook’s touch is dangerously deemed worth forgetting.

“For many novels and memoirs the power of the recipe lies in its promise to bring the fleeting, ephemeral sensations of the past into the present; in its establishment of identity, of intimacy between speaking subject and reader - yet an awareness of the problematics of those promises lurk close to the surface. In its very form, the recipe dramatizes the tensions between food as text and food as bodily experience, between the food we read and the food we eat.” Nicola Humble, The Literature of Food

“...the recipe finds its principal carrier in people’s hands so...” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

“ can be regarded as living in the senses, existing as people’s intellectual but practical knowledge, and as part of their lived experience of culture, recorded in memory through successive performances, but able to be creatively adapted to changing circumstances.” Gillian Crowther, Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food

How does this memory change over time? What do we really remember about our meals?

“They will know how well the past can be kept in mind by a habitual memory sedimented in the body.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“... food permits him to insert himself daily into his own past...” Roland Barthes, Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption

“...[rites] do not simply imply continuity with the past by explicitly claim such continuity.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“ remember is to make the past actual...” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

I’m interested in the past tense of recipes because I see them as a means of forcing us to reconcile what we choose to historicize versus what we exclude from a future collective memory. What other details can be captured that are normally left out but really have an effect on the final dish? In what ways do we share a recipe, and how does the design of it dictate that process?

I’m interested in the future tense of recipes because I’m curious how the format can demonstrate attitudes that are in support of variation rather than techniques that command the production of a standardized outcome. How can the language used to capture a process welcome individual input rather than set a criteria of homogeneity? In what ways do we receive a recipe, and how does the design of it impact that process?

“Every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some ways the quality of those which come after.” John Dewey, Education and Experience

“Keep reminding yourself of the way things are connected, of their relatedness. All things are implicated in one another and in sympathy with each other. This event is the consequence of some other one. Things push and pull on each other, and breathe together, and are one.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“...take stock of what you know and build on that...” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

A habit can be understood as...

“ activity which is acquired in the sense that it is influenced by previous activity.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“The principle of habit... rather than starting from ends, produces beginnings.” Tim Ingold, Anthropology and/as Education

“Collectively, we assemble from the wisdom of the past a vision for the future, a worldview shaped by mutual flourishing.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

A recipe documents how one cook made something so that another can attempt to recreate it. It is a form of writing that situates the reader between the past and future.

“What all these recipes and reminiscent say to the reader cuts to the paradox at the heart of the cookbook. They say: you can’t have this. You can’t have this because I already had it. This food is unrepeatable. The cauliflower cheese made in California cannot be the same as that in Dijon. Food is a one-off, a fugitive moment, best appreciated as memory. We cannot catch it and keep it; and at their heart, all cookbooks know this, even as they try to freeze the dish in photographic form, to arrest the process of its destruction in consumption. Food is always in process: growing, being prepared, being chewed, digest and defecated. The only place it is ever fixed whole in time is in memory. In reality, its flavors and substance dissolve in our mouths and are gone.” Nicola Humble, The Literature of Food

“...the nature of information itself is affected by the need to retain it through memory.” Frances Butler, Eating the Image: The Graphic Designer and the Starving Audience

“Under pretext of supplementing memory, writing [the notation scores] makes one even more forgetful; far from increasing knowledge, it diminishes it” Derrida as quoted by Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“In itself, then, the recipe is not knowledge. Rather, it opens up a path to knowledge...” Tim Ingold, Anthropology and/as Education

Additional transition needed here.

“Cooking isn’t so different from jazz. The best jazz musicians seem to improvise effortlessley, whether by embellishing standards or by stripping them down... But in order to be able to improvise flawlessly, they had to learn the basic language of music—the notes—and develop an intimate relationship with the standards. The same is true for cooking, while a great chef can make improvisation look easy, the ability to do so depends on a strong foundation of the basics.” Samin Nosrat, Salt Fat Acid Heat

“...I find it hard to thoroughly read and stick to a recipe. I’m much more improvisatory. It’s like composing—I choose a process, not a recipe. I’ll think, ‘Today is a good braising day,’ and then I’ll go to the store and see what ingredients are best for braising. Starting with a process, rather than having the finished product in mind, is the best approach for any creative endeavor.” Timo Andres, On classical music and cooking 

“Many of the things done by the musician, and absolutely essential to good performance, were not to be found in the score.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

Musical Scores
My thoughts on how gestures are translated into a language has led me to focus on graphic scores for musical performances. By analyzing how our sense of hearing has been visualized, I hope to improve upon and strengthen the visualizations I imagine for our sense of taste. 

“[A score] always contains hidden elements that defy definition because verbal dialectic is powerless to define musical dialectic in its totality. The realization of these elements is thus a matter of experience and intuition…” Igor Stravinsky

“No notation can presume to record information encompassing all aspects of the sonic phenomenon for which it stands.” Brian Ferneyhough

Why bother recording anything at all? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of the ephemeral experience?

“A composer’s notation arises from the pressures of what cannot be notated, and hence it can only be fully understood in relation to these elements.” Paul Roberts, The Mysterious Whether Seen as Inspiration or as Alchemy

“For Ferneyhough, notation can never present an exact encoding of the aural experience; notation is the beginning of a process, not the end.” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“Unless you’re Brian Ferneyhough (and you think you can notate everything), notation is to do with hints rather than absolute instruction. You are trying to convey the big image.” John Woolrich

“It became apparent that the range of sound which a player is capable of covering is so extensive and so susceptible to nuance that no notation can hope to control the whole of it.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

Is it possible that all this information is...

“...unnecessarily complicated, eliminating the performer’s role to interpret and leaving the listener saturated in incomprehensible information[?]” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“It is true that the world is complex, as are also our perceptive mechanisms through which we are receiving the fragments of the reality around us. Should our music reflect the endless information surrounding us, or should it reflect our personal way of filtering the world? The latter seems to me more interesting.” Kaija Saariaho

“I distinguish between complexity and complicated. I use the word ‘complexity’ to describe a state of the world. The word ‘complicated’ describes a state of mind... we will see order and reason in complexity once we come to understand the underlying principles.” Donald Norman, Living with Complexity, Chapter 1

How complex can design be?

“Complexity—not to be confused with complication!—is a prerequisite of any great art wishing to satisfy not only the sense of feelings, but also the mind.” Harry Halbreich

This here can get a lot more complicated...

“I have similar values in the food I cook as in the music I write. I like simplicity. One of the best food I’ve ever had is blue crabs... Crabs really speak for themselves. Similarly, I don’t like to gussy up my music with a lot of surface sheen or virtuosic frippery. If the materials can’t stand up by themselves, I don’t use them.” Timo Andres, On Food and Cooking

“Where everything becomes simple is the most desirable place to be. But, like Wittgenstein and his ‘harmless contradiction’, you have to remember how you got there. The simplicity must contain the memory of how hard it was to achieve.” Cornelius Cardew

Is this all just about memory?

Need I go on about memory?

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” Bob Dylan

Maybe that’s for the best.

“What makes something fully real is that it is impossible to represent it to completion.” Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget

“Sounds are kept alive only through the use of memory.” Paulo de Assis, Prelude of Sound and Score

“What a recording produces is a separate phenomenon.” Cornelius Cardew

“‘Unless sounds are remembered by man, they perish, for they cannot be written down.’ — Isidore of Seville, 1472 … we could be tempted to say that ‘unless sounds are written down, they perish, for they cannot be remembered.’ Paulo de Assis, Prelude of Sound and Score

“The score, fixed in the past, realised in the present, is open towards a future.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

“While in the graphic space, we can navigate in the time line, jumping from future to past and vice versa, in the real world the time appears to be irreversible.” Benny Sluchin and Mikhail Malt, A CAP for graphic scores Graphic notation and Performance

“Score-writing is a powerful form of visual communication that reaches across the barriers of language, space and time.” John L. Walters, Sound, code, image

Musical notation is a system that is used to visually represent aurally perceived music by the use of visual symbols. A graphic score is a drawing that represents a musical composition through the use of visual symbols outside the realm of traditional music notation. A collection of sonic visualizations that inspire me immensely can be found in my channel called Made to Order

“Your eyes lead your ears through the music. You take advantage of your brain's ability to process multiple pieces of visual information simultaneously.” Stephen Malinowski, NPR Interview

“It is a matter of paying attention along the path of the experience, rather than of an intention instructed by prefixed models.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisation in Cooking and Tasting

Instructions are a guide to get you somewhere, but should they allude to what the journey could feel like?

“‘Notation’ [is the] totality of words, signs and symbols encountered on the road to a concrete performance of music.” Paulo de Assis, Prelude of Sound and Score

A score is...

“...a visual representation of sound structures… a conventional code… it offers an immediate and complete overview of something that is otherwise not visually perceivable… it mediates… radically different senses.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

“A score has a life of its own: its look has a lot to do with the power of the piece. When I look at a Classical score (Mozart, Beethoven and so on) you can’t actually see at a glance why it works.” Howard Skempton

How does the visual experience of reading a score involve our other senses? 

“[Notations are] capsules of information both technical and expressive which require ‘reading’ (that is, decoding and digesting).” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“Scores can remain the same, even as different readings of the score develop.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

“[These scores produce] an infinite number [of works] and a new one each time the score is ‘realized.’” John Evarts, The New Musical Notation: A Graphic Art?

“Each reading is independent from the next… banish the belief in a single way to approach a work.” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“The eye can move from any point to any other point on the page so the piece could be realized for any amount of time.” Earle Brown, On December 1952

Conduct a visual analysis and appreciation of Earle’s scores here. 

“The distance between abstract and complex music notation, on the one hand, and the immediate aural and embodied perception of music on the other, implies the need for an efficient learning process to enhance the complex process of translation that is involved.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

Can an alternative form of a recipe involve learning a new way to read?

“[Notation] should be directed to a large extent towards the people who read it, rather than towards the sound they will make.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

“Both score and script are at the mercy of the interpreter.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

“Each musician plays from the score, reading it in terms of his individual instrument and inclination… an improvisatory character is essential to the piece.” Cornelius Cardew

A performer...

“ interpreter… seeks to combine… ‘the virtues of fidelity and sympathy.’” Jeremy Cox, What I Say and What I Do?

“An interpreter of a ‘musical graphic’ score seeks only to produce ‘sound pictures’ analogous to the graphic score before his eyes.” John Evarts, The New Musical Notation: A Graphic Art?

“Three elements seem to be inherent in any notational system: the ability to offer a sound-picture…, the need to offer all essential instructions…, and the… collision of these two elements… incorporating an implied ideology of its own process of creation.” Paulo de Assis, Prelude of Sound and Score

“Artistic freedom… must remain sovereign over the notated task.” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

How do rules invite breakers to bend them? 

“The score is not an element in itself but is dependent upon the historical situatedness of its performers.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

How can the design of a recipe adapt to a variety of contexts?

“The would-be performer, bringing with him all his prejudices and virtues, intervenes in the composition of the piece, influences its identity in fact, at the moment when he first glances at the notation and jumps to a conclusion about what the piece is, what is its nature.” Cornelius Cardew

“Very often a performer’s intuitive response to the notation influences to a large extent his interpretation of the instructions.” Cornelius Cardew

“The performer must make decisions regarding the realization of the piece… the performer assumes the role of the relativizing filter, parsing Ferneyhough’s encapsulation of the ‘endless information surrounding us.’” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“Musical integrity refers… to the need for critical and reflective abilities in a musician… [it does not] imply an uncritical mimicking of notational procedures or historical performances.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

“A performer who is prepared to spend time with the score and to interrogate it from perspectives other than that of the one-note-after-another linear reading will be able to elucidate many of these ‘higher order’ elements and use them to enrich his or her understanding of the Work.” Jeremy Cox, What I Say and What I Do?

“...this need to actively put my body into the score is not a failure of mine, but a demand of the notation, and perhaps of reading practices more generally.” Victora Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Differences

“Reading requries separation and mental concentration and, thus, creates isolation both from the social group and from the physical world as well.” Frances Butler, Eating the Image: The Graphic Designer and the Starving Audience

“Constraining the player with too many or overly binding rules might change his mood, the spirit in which he makes his sounds, and the sounds themselves.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

“The composer is directing a psychological measure at him in hopes of making him think twice about what he is doing.” David Behrman, On What Indeterminate Notation Determines

“A composer who hears sounds will try to find a notation for sounds. One who has ideas will find one that expresses his ideas, leaving their interpretation free, in confidence that his ideas have been accurately and concisely notated.” Cornelius Cardew

“The notation acts as an intermediary… the role of notation is purely presentational; its success is defined by how ‘clearly’ the composer transmits his/her ideas to the performer.” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

Whoever is on the receiving end is then assumed to put in a certain amount of attention towards it. Reading a recipe can never be passive. Even if action is not taken up on the spot, it is at least imagined or anticipated. 

“A method of notation which precisely facilitates the reconstruction of the work, intensifies it, gives a full account of it and, in short, communicates a precise view of the composer’s intentions.” John Evarts, The New Musical Notation: A Graphic Art?

“The act[s] of composition… seek to give us intimations of the musical thought and Gestalt that only the composer can know.” Jeremy Cox, What I Say and What I Do?

“Words rarely capture the immediate emotional assault of a piece of poignant music, which allows the composer to say not ‘It felt something like this,’ but rather ‘Here is the unnamable emotion I felt.’” Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

“I, as the composer, have no idea how the piece will sound in performance. And why should I?” Cornelius Cardew

“There is something confining and demeaning about having expectations...” Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget

Is it okay if it leads to...

“...something which the composer almost certainly did not intend or predict[?]” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

In this metaphor between scores and recipes, I consider both the composer and performer as cooks, where one has more familiarity with a dish than another. Let us briefly consider the listener or the eater.

“The engagement of the eater, however, further increases the unpredictability of the process, because the taste of a dish – and maybe here we can see a difference, for example, with the auditory perception of a music performance – cannot be recorded.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisations in Cooking and Tasting

We revisit the body to briefly consider the loneliness of the senses. However, what my research is focused on is the making of that which stimulates the senses, not what the sense itself receives. A score does not record what a sound feels like when it is heard, it captures how a sound is produced in the first place. A recipe does not capture the flavor of a bite, it documents how to make a plate full of many bites. A sound exists between bodies, like a meal does, but how that sound felt like and what that meal tasted like is enclosed within a single body. 

“The score must govern the music. It must have authority, and not merely be an arbitrary jumping-off point for improvisation, with no internal consistency.” Cornelius Cardew

In this sense, we can think of having authority as possessing antecedent knowledge. This advantage deems one more eligible to guide a novice other. 

“Where no sound is specified, any sound may occur.” Cornelius Cardew

“There is a great difference between: a) doing anything you like and at the same time reading the notations, and b) reading the notations and trying to translate them into action.” Cornelius Cardew

“[Improvisations] eliminate the possibility of cliches.” Earle Brown, On December 1952

The nature of a recipe does not encourage improvisation, even if it is based on an instance of making that was improvised. What if we prefer to improvise in the kitchen? What good is a recipe then? Perhaps it is through this verb that we can see recipes more as a record of the past than a prompt for the future. I’d prefer to let a cook reinterpret the past than outline their future, to underscore attitude rather than hone in technique. However, some familiarity with technique mixed with willingness to make mistakes is a prerequisite for improvisation. 

“When the recipe is brought from an inner level to external (the social) it unfolds its characteristic as something sharable, available to everyone. And if something is made available to everyone it signifies that is open to interpretation.” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

“And while recipes may look similar or result in the same product, there is still room for wide interpretations if we also consider the interactional structure inherent in any communicative exchange.” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

“The fact that people have different interpretations simply means that things can be carved up differently, not that all perspectives are equally valid.” David Kaplan, Food Philosophy

“...the activity of interpretation itself became and object of reflection, rather than being simply practised...” Paul Connerton, How Socities Remember

“First performed in Tokyo in 1969, the sauerkraut action started with a music stand on which a loose sauerkraut portion was arranged in place of the score. His ‘music’ thus positioned, Beuys would conduct music on stage according to the ‘sauerkraut principle.’ The principle is simple: instead of slavishly obeying aesthetic rules and repeating the recipes of musical scores that dictate what is played, the replacement of the score by sauerkraut allows the musician to improvise freely and be artistically creative.” Harald Lemke, Joseph Beuys: Gastrosophical Aesthetics

To improv is to improve. To improv is to admit comfort with an uncertain spontaneity. To improv is to appreciate variation. To improv is to leave space for nuances.

When you improvise under the guidance of a recipe, you are able to compare what happened to what was predicted to happen.

“Cooking at home should be improv. Recipes should be a guideline. Follow them too closely, and they can be controlling.” David Chang, Cooking at Home

“As life itself cannot be predicted and controlled, it calls for improvisation.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisation in Cooking and Tasting

“Experience is the only process that can de-alienate information.” Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget

“Notation’s ambiguities are its saving grace. Fundamentally, notation is a serviceable device for coping with imponderables. Precision is never of the essence in creative work.” Roberto Gerhard

“Scores have a precision to them in terms of how they should be approached, but this precision is different from playing the right note. It’s more about attitude and a specific trajectory.” Wadada Leo Smith

“The criteria for aesthetically adequate performances lie in the extent to which the performer is technically and spiritually able to recognize and embody the demands of fidelity (NOT exactitude!)” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

The score’s...

“...technical elements offer access to a delayed or mediated auditory perception by way of an embodied process. The interface between score and sound is the artist’s body in the process of musical realisation.” Kathleen Coessens, Exploring Musical Integrity and Experimentation

Notations themselves are the determining factor in the method of composition of a piece, and hence in the piece’s identity and structure. The composer often provides his instructions as an interpretation of the piece. Often, then, these instructions are limiting (at best) and misleading (at worst).” Cornelius Cardew

“One can understand a notation without understanding everything that the notation is able to notate. To abandon notation is therefore a sacrifice; it deprives one of any system of formal guidelines leading you on into uncharted regions. On the other hand, the disadvantage of a traditional notation lies in its formality.” Cornelius Cardew

“The functions of notation in the music are in dire need of a re-complexification.” Stuart Paul Duncan, Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity’

“A piece that was not going to be performed from left to right did not need to be composed from left to right.” Earle Brown, On December 1952

“Nonlinear reading amalgamates these discrete structural formats for legibility emphasizing top, line, center, and frame, with page formats organized to encourage multidirectional pursuit of understanding.” Frances Butler, Eating the Image: The Graphic Designer and the Starving Audience

“In addition to a continuing need to devise new notational practices… there is also a need to permanently revisit and reconsider our understanding of past notational systems.” Paulo de Assis, Prelude of Sound and Score

Thinking about movement, apart from sound. Why would I turn to the work of choregraphers?

“Choreographers are people who have chosen body language as their primary form of expression. Many are not adept with words.” Dan Herbison-Evans, Dance, Video, Notation and Computers

They pay attention to the body in close detail. This is what I’m trying to do for movements that occur in the kitchen space. 

“I must move into the space, disassemble the notation signs and then reassemble them in and through my body before I am able to understand what is written.” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

Additional quotes, further analysis and more organization coming to this section on Choreology very soon. 

“...the dancing body does leave an inscription in space...” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“ is also charged with signifying the situation in which it is used.” Roland Barthes, Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption

“The score demands my active physical participation: I must dance it if I am to knoow what is written...” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“To be read the dance must be articulated through the dancer’s body.” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“I have found the dance written in the score.” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“The score will not, by itself, reveal how the dance looks, feels and sounds. Instead, the notation provides a set of instructions as to how the dance can, or should, be remade.” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference 

Transition needed here. 

On Benesh notation

“It is based on a horizontal stave (like socred music), with time being stepped discontinuously from left to right. The various lines of the stave represent different levels above the floor. The movement of body parts is indicated by projections of their paths in space onto the stave. Ambiguities about the parts and front/back foreshortening are resolved by symbols. Benesh notation has about 52,000 symbols, many of them compound, and the movement lines can be of arbitrary shape.” Don Herbison-Evans, Dance, Video, Notation and Computers

Rudolf and Joan Benesh “worked out various techniques for eliminating redundancy in the record and providing still further speed, economy, and simplcity without any loss of accuracy. One very important such technique is the writing of positions only when they change.” Fernau Hall, Benesh Notation and Ethnochoreology

“...because of the enormous amount of information needed to record all details of movement of all parts of the body, in three dimensions of space and in time, it seemed that a great mass of symbols would be needed—and yet, to be workable, the resultant score had to be fast, economic, simple, universally applicable and as legible as the alphabet or music notation.” Fernau Hall, Benesh Notation and Ethnochoreology

“In many forms of dance, movements of the eyes, hands, fingers, head, shoulders, hips, etc., are all-important...” Fernau Hall, Benesh Notation and Ethnochoreology

“...recording at each moment, simply and accurately, the exact location of the dancer in the dancing area; his direction of facing and direction of movement; details of support and relative movement in duets; and movements of groups, showing stage patterns and at the same time providing a precise record of the movment of indivdiuals.” Fernau Hall, Benesh Notation and Ethnochoreology

“Dance analysis is laborious work because of the vast spatial-rhythmical movement possibilities of the body and body-parts, the dynamic-phrasing features of movement, not recovered and formulated satisfactorily so far, and even more important, the determination of meaning in dance.” János Fügedi, Dance Notation and Computers

“Dances which seem very simple sometimes prove on being analysed for recording purposes to be far more complex than they look.” Fernau Hall, Benesh Notation and Ethnochoreology

On Laban notation

“It is based on a vertical stave showing time running continuously upward. Different columns of the stave are assigned to the various major parts of the body. The movements of the body parts are indicated by symbols designating the various directions in space... there are approximately 1500 different symbols, although many of these are compounded from others.” Don Herbison-Evans, Dance, Video, Notation and Computers

“By means of a Labanotated score, choreographers had finally gained the right of protection of their creations because such scores, like videotaps and DVDs, represnt an ephemeral art form in the tangible format required by the United States Copyright Office.” Mei-Chen Lu, The Dance Notation Bureau

The ephemeral confronts ownership. What good does this serve? 

“The ephemeral character of dance injects into the art an attractive pathos, which has been taken by some as a virtue. It does, however, severely impede the establishment of dance on a par with the other arts as an academic discipline in Western society.” Don Herbison-Evans, Dance, Video, Notation and Computers

Let us return to the notational form of recipes. Does the written word need to be the main medium?

“Words can’t explain what you must learn using your hands and nose and mouth.” Lisa Heldke, Foodmaking as a Thoughtful Practice

“Words blow away. Even thought dissipates like wisps of cloud sailing up the headland. There is only being.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

“Attentiveness, care and appreciation do not need to emerge always through explicit and conceptualized language.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisation in Cooking and Tasting

Why put words to something that maybe didn’t need them in the first place?

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anaïs Nin

Is it worth considering taste as a noun and not just a verb? 

“Sharing a recipe is the sign of sharing a relationship... they map out networks of relationships.” Janet Theophano, Eat My Words: Reading Women's Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote

“In a satisfying way, we are all bound by our language, history, family, food, and community.” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

“[A recipe is] a silent conversation between cook and cooked.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

What other relationships can be revealed and reveled or renounced in a recipe?

“A distinction should be made between the digressive potential of the recipe and the text in which it is embedded. Food, and therefore food writing, as this book has aimed to demonstrate, exerts a centripetal force capable of dragging all sorts of apparently diverse areas into its field: power, politics, sex, violence, national identity, body image, familial relations, the means of production, gender, history, the avant-garde — all these and more have, throughout its history, been considered a reasonable part of the discourse of the cookbook. For the most part, however, the more wildly digressive elements have not formed part of the recipe proper, and have instead been part of introductory material at the start of books or chapters or sections.” Nicola Humble, The Literature of Food

“ has capacities in excess of human intention and interaction, and we must recognize that food has encounters outside of its relation to humans.“ John Cochran, Object Oriented Cookery

How can recipes go beyond the human? How can the inclusion of such non-human beings shift our perspective of our own being? 

“Creation stories offer a glimpses into the worldview of a people, of how they understand themselves.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Can a recipe serve as a creation story?

“Good language alone will not save mankind. But seeing the things behind the names will help us to understand the structure of the world we live in. Good language will help us to communicate with one another about the realities of our environment, where we now speak darkly, in alien tongues.” Stuart Chase, The Tyranny of Words

“[Artifical languages] were invented on purpose, cut from whole cloth, set down on paper, start to finish, by one person... They were testaments not to the wonder of nature but to the human impulse to master nature.” Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages 

How did the structure of the world we live in get built the way it did? Oh yeah, because...

“Shortening messages meant saving money.” James Gleick, from Chapter 5 of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

“By representing all human economic interaction in numbers, knowledge about the underlying cultural and social value is lost.” Ruben Peter, Caps Lock

How does what a language fails to capture contribute to the message that’s trying to be communicated?

“Time is all too often of the essence in modern recipe-writing. Of course we need convenience, efficiency, a meal on the table in half an hour, but all that at the expense of flavour is counterproductive. What use, after all, is a quick meal that no one enjoys?” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

“... linguistic structures that derive from printed, mass-media forms...” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

If the graphic structure of recipes has been determined by the medium through which they are circulated, then shouldn’t I first imagine how I want my new recipes to be received?

“Not everything should be convenient.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, in ‘The Honorable Harvest’ from Braiding Sweetgrass

“...pre-capitalistic economies contained valuable knowledge about local contexts. Vernacular knowledge that is still produced today, but often marginalized and unrecognized.” Ruben Peter, Caps Lock

“The reasons for the gradual changes in a basic recipe such as one for wheat bread, for instance, are inextricably tangled with man’s history and assumed progress.” M.F.K. Fisher, The Anatomy of a Recipe

“...the substance of communal memory is changed by the transformation in the technology of preserved communication.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

How has our obsession with change created an aversion to repetition?

“The male cooks took what were oral traditions and made them textual, and they took the knowledge away from the daily, domestic lives of women who cooked for their family, transforming it into the specialized knowledge of men who would cook for wealthy employers as a job. These two sites of cooking—at home and in public, for free or for wages, by women and by men—came to be identified as the location of lower cooking versus higher cooking, or low and high cuisine.” Gillian Crowther, Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food

“Hearing about the traditions surrounding each dish made each one more memorable.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

These statements yearn for additional historical context. Is now a good time to get into that?

“When the memories of a culture begin to be transmitted mainly by the reproduction of their inscriptions rather than by ‘live’ tellings, improvisation becomes increasingly difficult and innovation is institutionalised.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“The more territorially located recipes are orally based, passed on through experience and conversation from one generation to another; the textually based ones, written up in cookbooks are less located, more mobile, and will be passed on to anyone who can read.” Gillian Crowther, Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food

“...the ancient recipes were intended to circulate and be transmitted within a specific group of people” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

Bring the two-dimensional recipe into the three-dimensional realm by dwelling on another two-dimensional form—the map. 

“The recipe is like a map: it is not a representation of the field, but is, rather, an invitation, a field of affordances.” Nicola Perullo, Improvisations in Cooking and Tasting

When we make a map, we compress a scale otherwise uncontainable. What does a map add to or take away from the thing it represents?

“The fact that you know what lies ahead does not lessen the pleasure of getting there.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

“These are not ‘instructions’ like commandments, though, or rules; rather, they [the Original Instructions] provide an orientation but not a map. The work of living is creating that map for yourself.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

“There are multiple ways one can use mapping or cartography to understand our place in the world, amongst them, a societally endorsed, scientifically applied cartography and an individually perceived one. Each of us assesses, prioritizes and rates things in a different way, not all aspects of life have the same value and map representations are shaped by the purpose of the map and the intentions of the map maker.” e-flux, Temporary Atlas Announcement

What more can be said about maps? And is that really the note I want to end on?

“It’s like Google Maps: We’re terrible at navigating now because we just blindly follow whatever our phones tell us.” David Chang, Cooking at Home

Why notate at all? Why worry so much about making tangible what you cannot fully grasp? What’s the point of it all? 

“The very notion of preservation is thought suspect...” Victoria Watts, Dancing the Score: Dance Notation and Difference

“The objects produced by the designer as engineer are graphs, diagrams, maps, forms, manuals, and guidelines... Their aesthetics may be questioned, but rarely their reason for existence.” Ruben Peter, Caps Lock

“Rites have the capacity to give value and meaning to the life of those who perform them.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

Here are a few of the texts next on my reading queue. The takeaways I have from these will eventually be incorporated into the reflections on this page above. 

Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Andrea Borghini’s Recipes, Their Authors, and Their Names

Andrea Borghini and Nicola Piras’ The Philosophy of Food Recipes Between Arts and Algorithms

Anne Bower‘s Romanced by Cookbooks  

Martha Davis’s Methods of Perceiving Patterns of Small Group Behavior

Cecily Dell’s Primer for Movement Description Using Effort-Shape

Cecily Dell, Aileen Crow and Irmgard Bartenieff’s Space Harmony

Thierry de Duve’s When Form Has Become Attitude — And Beyond

John Dunn and Mary Anne Clark’s "Life Music": The Sonification of Proteins

Josette Féral and Ronald P. Bermingham’s Theatricality: The Specificity of Theatrical Language

Orion Edgar’s Things Seen and Unseen

Megan Elias’s Food on the Page

Craig Fox’s On Making Sense of Recipes

Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett’s Playing To The Senses Food as a Performance Medium

Donald F. Koch’s Recipes, Cooking, and Conflict—A Response to Heldke’s “Recipes for Theory Making”

Ann Hutchinson Guest’s Dance Notation

Lisa Heldke’s In Praise of Unreliability

Colin Lawson’s Nourishment, Body and Soul: Modern Performers, Diverse Tastes

Jill Lepore’s The Cobweb: Can the Internet be archived?

Maya Lin’s Making the Memorial

Bruno Munari’s The Shape of Words

Henry Notaker’s A History of Cookbooks 

Arika Okrent’s In the Land of Invented Languages

Andrew Sneddon’s Recipes for Moral Paradox

Bobbi Sutherland’s Cookbooks in Conversation

David Sutton’s Cooking Skills the Senses and Memory the Fate of Practical Knowledge

Fran Tonkiss’s Aural Postcards: Sound, Memory and the City

Wendy Wall’s Recipes for Thought

Nicole L. Woods’s Taste Economies: Alison Knowles, Gordon Matta-Clark and the intersection of food, time and performance

And many more...

Find a place to elaborate upon Nathalie Miebach’s weather scores, since as of now this work does not naturally fall within my established sections. Maybe somewhere in line with Judy Rodgers’ quote:

“I rediscover daily that the best dishes are the result of honoring the ingredients, continually tasting, and heeding not just the season, but also the weather outside.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook