Wadada Leo Smith at the Hammer Museum

Made In L.A. : The Language Score

The Made in LA exhibit showcases artists from the local LA art scene. Wadada Leo Smith was one of the hand selected artists. Currently at the Hammer Museum, displayed are a wide range of scores he created from 1968 to 2014.This retrospective exhibit examines a comprehensive look on Wadada Leo Smith’s ingenuity and innovations he has made in the music industry.  His systemic way of writing music was developed over nearly 50 years. It compresses music into colors shapes and lines. This new way of annotating music has made a name for Wadada Leo Smith and his hopes to innovate a new way of reading music.


Wadada Leo Smith is a jazz performer and composer who developed a form of musical notation in the 60s called Ankhrasmation. Breaking down the word it is formed from several Egyptian symbols. “Ankh”is the Egyptian symbol for life, “Ras,” the Ethiopian word for leader, and “Ma”, a universal term for mother­.  These scores demonstrate his early use of the notation’s signature cuneiform-like glyph, and his later expansion in the use of color, repertoire of signs, and compositional approaches. The scores removes traditional musical notation in favor of symbolic compositions of color, line, and shape. These provide specific instruction for the seasoned improvisor while allowing them to bring their own expertise and individuality to each piece.


Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith was born December 18, 1941 in Leland Mississippi. He trained as a musciain in the US Military Band Program. The trumpeter and composer worked primarily in avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. He was also one of the three finalists in 2013 for a Pulitzer Prize for Music for his composition Ten Freedom Summers.


Art. Culture. Current Events. jflorentinoweekly. 

Join the e-newsletter to receive a weekly list of curated events in Los Angeles. Subscribe here. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s