Milan Adamčiak (1946 – 2017) was in the first place a musicologist. However, he considerably devoted to a variable intermedia art and its connections between music and visual arts. He organized artistic events and happenings, established musical and performance groups (DAD, Ensemble Comp., Transmusic group). Adamčiak also collaborated with conceptual artists (Július Koller, Alex Mlynarčík), created sound objects, installations, musical graphics, experimental poetry and much more. The collection of his graphic scores shows Adamčiak’s unconventional approach to music notation. He managed to overcome the limitations of the traditional notation using original geometric compositions and free treatment of graphic space. His scores are visually attractive and at the same time enable less restrictive interpretation of the note schemes, and thus also allow unchained interpretation while performing the compositions.
Adamčiak began his artistic activity in the 1960s when he joined the Slovak neo-avant-garde tendencies. His public events brought musical instruments and practices associated with classical music into informal and sometimes even humorous situations and environments. He shifted musical expression from its traditional context and combined it with theatrical action. Within the period of Normalisation, he was tirelessly working on his visual scores and sketches in private. Hundreds of the sketches have been preserved until today. Adamčiak focused mostly on musical characteristics (structures, rhythm and surfaces) and their mutual relations. His graphics were mainly monolithic, and he developed them through drawings, diagrams, collages, assemblages, cumulations, and similar. He had continuously devoted to the creation of graphic scores for more than five decades and was a pioneer in this field in Slovakia.
Milan Adamčiak - Music for Manfred Mohr, 1977
Adamčiak's scores are often somewhat free instructions for performing musical concepts rather than an accurate representation of tones and their dynamics. Geometric schemes freely positioned on a sheet may represent ephemeral and hardly formulable features of a composition, which can be interpreted according to the feelings, experience and fantasy of a musician. Some of his scores visually evoke certain environments (a labyrinth, a cell or fictitious landscape), processes (transformation, rotation) or systems of relationships and can be musicalised in various ways. Adamčiak's performances often contained witty and absurd motives as well as a conflict, uncertainty or cacophonic moments.
Adamčiak was inspired by the drawings of Wassily Kandinsky and Georges Braque and by Manfred Mohr's digital experiments. With the increasing number of his musical graphics, he gradually began to consider their systematization. He started to develop a typology of his scores in the first half of the 1990s, and he conceived it in 2012. Adamčiak identified the scores that can be moved and rotated by their interprets (rotatable) and those in which one can capture the contours of the landscape, clouds, shadows on stony cliffs, state borders and islands (contoured). Other types of sheet music include framed, modelled, system, block, wall, or three-dimensional scores. Adamčiak dedicated some of his musical sheets to the artists who were very close to him and to people who had some influence on him. Due to their precision and visual qualities, those graphic prints also stand out as separate artworks and are not dependant on their complementary musical part.
You can read more about the life and art of Milan Adamčiak in the publication Adamčiak, Begin!, which was published by the Slovak National Gallery on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition of the artist and prepared with his assistance. The exhibition was opened in March 2017, only two months after Adamčiak’s sudden death. Authors of the publications are Lucia Gregorová Stach and Michal Murín.