Seattle Improvisation Meeting



A Young Persons Guide to Treatise
(12.12.09)



Graphic Scores

"Experimental music scores are enigmatic, opaque, demanding, irritating, humorous, childlike; the best, like Cardew's Treatise, are also inspiring, giving rise, on occasion, to a music of vitality, intelligence and elegance." - John Tilbury

"Graphic music or graphic notation came out of attempts by composers in the 50's to articulate a different relationship of music/sound to composer and musician. Composers like Brown, Cage, Feldman, Wolff and others were part of a sea change that enabled multiplicity to grow out of the modernist framework." - Kerry Andrews

"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 Block Museums interactive website on graphical scores: Pictures of Music (flash)


I. Introduction

"Bear in mind that parts of the score may be devoid of direct musical relevance."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.iv col 1 pp.4

Start Here

An animated view of Cardew's 'Treatise' (flash)

About the Composer

Cornelius Cardew - A Life Unfinished by John Tilbury, Copula, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-9525492-3-9)
The definitive document on Cornelius Cardew's life and works, collaborations this long awaited biography by his friend and colleague, John Tilbury has finally arrived. Weighing in at 1100+ pages, from the perspective of such a close collaborator there really isn't going to be a better source. This has the highest recommendation from this site, along with the below book of Cardew's writing. These two books, both published by Copula, offer the most complete understanding of Cardew's life and thought.

Cornelius Cardew - Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) A Reader Copula, 2006 (ISBN 0-9525492-2-0)
This new book contains the collected writings of Cornelius Cardew including The Treatise Handbook, The Tigers Mind score, Towards an Ethic of Improvisation, Stockhausen Serves Imperialism and many other writings on music, composers and ideas. Along with a selection of critical essays by Richard Barrett, Christopher Fox, Brian Dennis, Anton Lukoszevieze, Michael Nyman, Eddie Prévost, David Ryan, Howard Skempton, Dave Smith, John Tilbury and Christian Wolff. Absolutely essential for understanding Cardew's thoughts and method.

Cornelius Cardew by John Tilbury
John Tilbury's article, 'Cornelius Cardew', is the best short treatment of Cardew's life and work, freely available on the web. If you are unable to get a copy of his Mammoth new biography (above) or are looking for an introduction, this is the place to start. However the biography is the definitive statement on Cardew's life, work and policies and is definitely the highest recommended source.

BBC Documentary on Cardew hosted by Howard Skempton (mp3)
A Question of Language Frederic Rzewski in Conversation about Cornelius Cardew
British Composers Project entry on Cornelius Cardew
Cornelius Cardew page at WikiPedia

Examples:

(Click images for larger size.)

Page 3 Page 75
 Treatise Page 75
Treatise Page 3

Page 134 Page 183
Treatise Page 134
Treatise Page 183


Listen:

Treatise (pages unknown) (mp3) from the Cornelius Cardew Memorial Concert (1985)

Treatise pages 190-193 performed by the Seattle Improv Meeting

Treatise Pages 82-84 (mp3) excerpt from the 7 Guitar performance from the Amplify Box set:

performed by:
Keith Rowe: guitar, electronics
Tetuzi Akiyama: amplified acoustic guitar
Oren Ambarchi: guitar, electronics
Toshimaru Nakamura: electric guitar
Otomo Yoshihide: electric guitar
Burkhard Stangl: acoustic and electric guitars
Taku Sugimoto: electric guitar


II. So Treatise...

"Let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man-made theories or expressions."
- John Cage

"The score must govern the music. It must have authority, and not merely be an arbitrary jumping-off point for improvisation."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.iv col 2 pp. 2

Beginnings:

"The first session began with discussions as to how we might go about making our version of the piece, speculating as to what particular images within the score might infer. With no hard and fast rules there were as many different and conflicting ideas as there were members of the group. How do you musically interpret a square, a circle, or an object which looks like a bubble car? And just what is that black line which runs through the centre of the score on almost every page supposed to signify?

With such a proliferation of ideas in the score we decided to focus our attention on particular pages and sections. Many different approaches were taken to interpretation, including assigning particular signs to particular players (but not determining how they might be realized), agreeing upon points of reference for the ensemble to come together, and simultaneous individual versions. It became clear that no sign could be given a fixed meaning as each new context demanded it to be rethought. Rather than being an inconvenience, I think (and I'm sure the rest of the group would agree) that this was a liberating factor - especially in sections such as page 150, when the abstractions of the score suddenly take on a feline character."
- Stephen Chase


Reading the Score

"It should be pointed out that none of Cardew's works ever gave total freedom to the performer. The instructions were a guide which focused each individual's creative instinct on a problem to be solved - how to interpret a particular system of notation using one's own musical background and attitudes. "
- John Tilbury

"In the case of Treatise a line or dot is certainly an immediate orientation as much as the thread in the fog. "
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p. iv col 1 pp. 1

"Remember that space does not correspond literally to time."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.iv col 1pp.3

"The notation is more important than the sound. Not the exactitude and success with which a notation notates a sound; but the musicalness of the notation in its notating."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.vii col. 1 pp.3

"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. Of course you can let the score work on previously given material, but you must have it work actively."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.vii col. 1 pp.4

Performance

"Reflection before a performance. A musical score is a logical construct inserted into the mess of potential sounds that permeate this planet and its atmosphere."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.vii col. 2 pp.5

"Performance advice. Divide the musicians into those involved in dot events (percussionists and pianists?) and those involved in line events. Dot events to be exclusively soft."
- Cornelius Cardew, Treatise Handbook, p.vii col. 2 pp.4

Read my report on a Treatise Workshop led by John Tilbury.


Notes

"Music with a spine. A score with backbone. Vertebrae: a composite line around which the body's extremities congregate. Spinal column: the concrete concept on which the slipped (compact?) disc is founded. Or, if not absolutely ossified into the bony hardness of subphylum Vertebrata's prime organizing architecture, perhaps Cardew's Treatise is equipped with the mutable structuring agent of the phylum Chordata: the notochord. What is Treatise? Well, it's a noto chord ... "
- John Corbett


III. Reference Material

The Score

• Published by Edition Peters

Cornelius Cardew - Treatise
Catalog Number: D2280

Cornelius Cardew - Treatise Handbook (Including Bun No.2, Volo Solo)
Catalog Number: EP7129

• Buy Online from Sheet music Plus:

Treatise
Treatise Handbook


Recordings:

Recordings of Treatise

For my analysis of various recordings of Treatise, see this post on my blog: On Performing Treatise. These recordings are more or less listed in my assement of their value.

Keith Rowe A Response to Treatise (Cathnor Recordings) (forthcoming)

AMPLIFY 2002: balance box set (erstwhile records)

- Disc 7: Seven Guitarists: Treatise
- DVD: Balance Beams (Contains a segment on the instructions given by Keith Rowe prior to the ‘seven guitarists’ performance of Treatise.)

Keith Rowe, Oren Ambarchi Cornelius Cardew's Treatise (Planam)
An LP with side 1 featuring pages 53 and 58 and Side 2, pages 168 and 169
Really an impressive performance, with Keith Rowe's usual dedication to the score and Ambarchi's deep drone's giving the centerline real life. Essential. Note a video excerpt of this performance can be found on YouTube.

• AMM, Combine + Laminates + Treatise '84 (Matchless Records)

UbuWeb Cardew Sound Archive

- Treatise (pages unknown) from the Cornelius Cardew Memorial Concert (1985)


John Tilbury Cornelius Cardew Piano Music 1959~70 (Matchless Records) (includes a few pages from Treatise)

- february pieces '59, '60, '61. volo solo.
- unintended piano music. three winter potatoes.
- material.
- Treatise (excerpt).

FORMANEX: Treatise- Cornelius Cardew (Fibrr, 2003)
(Christopher Havard, Manu Leduc, Julien Ottavi, Anthony Taillard, Laurent Dailleau)
(pages unknown

FORMANEX: Treatise - Live in Extrapool (Fibrr, 2003)
(Christopher Havard, saxophones, amplified objects; Anthony Taillard, guitar, bass; Emmanuel Leduc, electronics; Julien Ottavi, percussion, electronics.)

1. p. 67, 68, 69 (10.35)
2. p. 71 (05.39)
3. p. 83, 84, 85 (08.23)
4. p. 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116 (24.02)
5. p. 43 (10.42)

Keith Rowe A Dimension of Perfectly Ordinary Reality (Matchless Records) (Solo guitar, includes an excerpt from Treatise)
This seems to be OOP and is no longer even referenced on the Matchless site.

Keith Rowe The Room (Erstwhile Records) (Solo guitar. The Room is a tribute to Mark Rothko and Cornelius Cardew which contains an excerpt from Treatise)

FORMANEX: Treatise- Cornelius Cardew (Fibrr, 2003)
(Christopher Havard, Manu Leduc, Julien Ottavi, Anthony Taillard, Laurent Dailleau)
(pages unknown

FORMANEX: Treatise - Live in Extrapool (Fibrr, 2003)
(Christopher Havard, saxophones, amplified objects; Anthony Taillard, guitar, bass; Emmanuel Leduc, electronics; Julien Ottavi, percussion, electronics.)

Seattle Improv Meeting (mp3 downloads from SpiralCage)

Cardew Compositions:
Treatise: pages 1-44, 72, 120-123, 130-135, 146-148, 188-190
The Great Learning paragraph 6
Schooltime Special


Cornelius Cardew Treatise (Prague 1967) performed by the QUaX Ensemble, directed by Petr Kotik (Mode Records)

Cornelius Cardew Treatise (hatART)

Cornelius Cardew Material (hatART) (Track 2 is a performance of several pages of Treatise)
(General info on the HatART releases)

Itchy and Scratchy Orchestra (mp3 download at UbuWeb)

Treatise pages 4, 13, 15
Scratch Music

Other Cardew Recordngs

Cornelius Cardew Chamber music 1955-1964 (Matchless Records) Recorded by Apartment House directed by Anton Lukoszevieze

Cornelius Cardew Great Learning (Cortical Foundation)

Cornelius Cardew We Sing for the Future! (New Albion) Frederic Rzewski, piano

Cornelius Cardew The Great Learning + 2 Poems for Chorus (Deutsche Grammophon) - The Scratch Orchestra and David Bedford

Cornelius Cardew Four Principles On Ireland And Other Pieces (Ampersand)

Cornelius Cardew Piano Music (Music Now)

Cornelius Cardew Memorial Concert (Experimental Music Catalogue)

Cornelius Cardew with AMM:

AMM AMMMUSIC (London 1966) (ReR Megacorp)

AMM The Crypt - 12th June 1968 (Matchless Records)

AMM Laminal disc 1: The Aarhaus Sequence (1969) (Matchless Records)


Peoples Liberation MusicWe Only Want the Earth (Music Now)

Consciously: a Tribute to Cardew, PLM, etc (Music Now)


References

Cornelius Cardew - A Life Unfinished by John Tilbury, Copula, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-9525492-3-9)
The definitive document on Cornelius Cardew's life and works, collaborations this long awaited biography by his friend and colleague, John Tilbury has finally arrived. Weighing in at 1100+ pages, from the perspective of such a close collaborator there really isn't going to be a better source. This has the highest recommendation from this site, along with the below book of Cardew's writing. These two books, both published by Copula, offer the most complete understanding of Cardew's life and thought.

• Cornelius Cardew - Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) A Reader Copula, 2006 (ISBN ) 0-9525492-2-0available from Matchless Recordings
This new book contains the collected writings of Cornelius Cardew including The Treatise Handbook, The Tigers Mind score, Towards an Ethic of Improvisation, Stockhausen Serves Imperialism and many other writings on music, composers and ideas, along with a selection of critical essays by various associates of Cardew. Essential.

• John Tilbury: 'Cornelius Cardew' (best online resource)

• Virginia Anderson. British Experimental Music: Cornelius Cardew and His Contemporaries. (Experimental Music Catalogue)
(1983: thesis, 287 pp. Facsimile of the original typescript thesis, comb-bound)
This is now out of print, to be supplanted by a new book

• Other Cardew Projects/writings/etc:

The Great Learning listen to Paragraph 1 from UbuWeb
Treatise Handbook includes Bun No.2 and Volo Solo
Scratch Orchestra:
Stockhausen Serves Imperialism (PDF download from UbuWeb)
Towards an Ethic of Improvisation (PDF download from UbuWeb)
Peoples Liberation Music
• Scores from the Experimental Music Catalogue

Cornelius Cardew Boolavogue
Cornelius Cardew Thälmann Variations
Cornelius Cardew Piano Album 1973
Cornelius Cardew Piano Album 1974
Cornelius Cardew Three Bourgeois Songs

Writings

Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) A Reader
edited by Eddie Prévost
Copula, UK, 2006
ISBN
0-9525492-2-0available from Matchless Recordings

Scratch Music
edited by Cornelius Cardew
The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
ISBN 0 262 53025 2

Stockhausen Serves Imperialism, and Other Articles: with Commentary and Notes
Cornelius Cardew
Latimer New Dimensions (1974)
ISBN: 0901539295
available from UbuWeb

Articles

Virgina Anderson, Cornelius Cardew Lives!

Frederic Rzewski A Question of Language Frederic Rzewski in Conversation about Cornelius Cardew

John Tilbury Cornelius Cardew

Online Video

Keith Rowe, Oren Ambarchi ten minutes of the performance that was released as an LP on Planam featuring pages 53, 58, 168 and 169

Treatise workshop with John Tilbury put on by Vancouver New Music.

Treatise pages 17/3 by Mo Stoebe on YouTube

A page of Treatise by Li Tie qiao & Morten Minothi Kristiansen in Oslo on YouTube

Another page of Treatise by Li Tie qiao & Morten Minothi Kristiansen in Oslo on YouTube

Cardew's Treatise at the Kettles Yard - Cambridge. "Cos" playing prepared Electric Guitar on YouTube

Useful Websites

info
UbuWeb
Coma
Journal of Experimental Music Studies
Block Museum: Pictures of Music
Cornelius Cardew page at WikiPedia
music
Sheet Music Plus:
Edition Peters
Edition Text & Graphics - a series featuring graphically notated, improvisation-oriented music from The Society for Publication of Danish Music
labels
Erstwhile Records
Matchless Records
Cortical Foundation
HatART
New Albion
Mode Records
Cathnor Recordings
buying
Experimental Music Catalogue
Forced Exposure Cardew Page