What is the relevant way of speaking about Treatise? What are the terms? Can one really say anything explicit about it? All right-justified quotes are taken from Treatise Handbook. And what can my written intervention offer these perfectly self-sufficient virtuose other than needless complication? While those questions began as a rhetorical springboard, I would like to revisit them here, slightly reformulated, as points for earnest reflection.
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I am trying to think of the various different kinds of virtue or strength that can be developed by the musician.
My chief difficulty in preparing this article lies in the fact that vice makes fascinating conversation, whereas virtue is viewed to best advantage in action. I therefore decide on an illustrative procedure. Who can remain unmoved by the biography of Florence Nightingale in Encyclopaedia Britannica? The career of Ludwig Wittgenstein the philosopher brother of the famous lefthand pianist who emigrated to America -whose writings incidentally are full of musical insights- provides an equally stirring example:.
He used a large inheritance to endow a literary prize. Studies in logic brought him to the publication of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus at the end of which he writes: "My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless,.
I am, therefore, of the opinion that the problems have in essentials been finally solved. It is not impossible that it should fall to the lot of this work, in its poverty and in the darkness of this time, to bring light into one brain or another -but, of course, it is not likely.
In his later writing Wittgenstein has abandoned theory , and all the glory that theory can bring on a philosopher or musician , in favour of an illustrative technique. The following is one of his analogies:. If you want to say that this shews [sic] them to be incomplete, ask yourself whether our language is complete;-whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry and the notations of the infinitesimal calculus were incorporated in it; for these are, so to speak, suburbs of our language.
And how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town? Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses. And imnumerable [sic] others. A city analogy can also be used to illustrate the interpreter's relationship to the music he is playing.
I once wrote: "Entering a city for the first time you view it at a particular time of day and year, under particular weather and light conditions. You see its surface and can form only theoretical ideas of how this surface was moulded.
As you stay there over the years you see the light change in a million ways, you see the insides of houses-and having seen the inside of a house the outside will never look the same again. You get to know the inhabitants, maybe you marry one of them, eventually you are inhabitant- a native yourself. You have become part of the city. If the city is attacked, you go to defend it; if it is under siege, you feel hunger - you are the city. When you play music, you are the music.
I can see clearly the incoherence of this analogy. Mechanically -comparing the real situation to one cogwheel and the analogy to another- it does not work. Nonetheless, in full conscience I soil my mouth with these incoherent words for the sake of what they bring about. At the words 'You are the music' something unexpected and mechanically real happens purely by coincidence two teeth in the cogwheels meet up and mesh the light changes and a new area of speculation opens based on the identity of the player and his music.
This kind of thing happens in improvisation. Two things running concurrently in haphazard fashion suddenly synchronise autonomously and sling you forcibly into a new phase. Rather like in the 6-day cycle race when you sling your partner into the next lap with a forcible handclasp.
Yes, improvisation is a sport too , and a spectator sport, where the subtlest interplay on the physical level can throw into high relief some of the mystery of being alive. Connected with this is the proposition that improvisation cannot be rehearsed. Training is substituted for rehearsal, and a certain moral discipline is an essential part of this training. Written compositions are fired off into the future; even if never performed, the writing remains as a point of reference.
Improvisation is in the present, its effect may live on in the souls of the participants, both active and passive ie audience , but in its concrete form it is gone forever from the moment that it occurs, nor did it have any previous existence before the moment that it occurred, so neither is there any historical reference available. Documents such as tape recordings of improvisation are essentially empty, as they preserve chiefly the form that something took and give at best an indistinct hint as to the feeling and cannot convey any sense of time and place.
At this point I had better define the kind of improvisation I wish to speak of. Obviously a recording of a jazz improvisation has some validity since its formal reference -the melody and harmony of a basic structure- is never far below the surface. This kind of validity vanishes when the improvisation has no formal limits. In I joined a group of four musicians in London who were giving weekly performances of what they called 'AMM Music', a very pure form of improvisation operating without any formal system or limitation.
The four original members of AMM came from a jazz background; when I joined in I had no jazz experience whatever, yet there was no language problem. Sessions generally lasted about two hours with no formal breaks or interruptions, although there would sometimes occur extended periods of close to silence. An open-ness to the totality of sounds implies a tendency away from traditional musical structures towards informality. Governing this tendency -reining it in- are various thoroughly traditional musical structures such as saxophone, piano, violin, guitar, etc.
Further echoes of the history of music enter through the medium of the transistor radio the use of which as a musical instrument was pioneered by John Cage. However, it is not the exclusive privilege of music to have a history -sound has history too. Industry and modern technology have added machine sounds and electronic sounds to the primeval sounds of thunderstorm, volcanic eruption, avalanche and tidal wave. Informal 'sound' has a power over our emotional responses that formal 'music' does not, in that it acts subliminally rather than on a cultural level.
This is a possible definition of the area in which AMM is experimental. We are searching for sounds and for the responses that attach to them, rather than thinking them up, preparing them and producing them.
The search is conducted in the medium of sound and the musician himself is at the heart of the experiment. In , I and another member of the group invested the proceeds of a recording in a second amplifier system to balance the volume of sound produced by the electric guitar.
At that period we were playing every week in the music room of the London School of Economics -a very small room barely able to accomodate [sic] our equipment.
With the new equipment we began to explore the range of small sounds made available by using contact microphones on all kinds of materials -glass, metal, wood, etc. At the same time the percussionist was expanding in the direction of pitched instruments such as xylophone and concertina, and the saxophonist began to double on violin and flute as well as a stringed instrument of his own design.
In addition, two cellos were wired to the new equipment and the guitarist was developing a predilection for coffee tins and cans of all kinds. This proliferation of sound sources in such a confined space produced a situation where it was often impossible to tell who was producing which sounds -or rather which portions of the single roomfilling deluge of sound. In this phase the playing changed: as individuals we were absorbed into a composite activity in which solo-playing and any kind of virtuosity were relatively insignificant.
It also struck me at that time that it is impossible to record with any fidelity a kind of music that is actually derived in some sense from the room in which it is taking place -its shape, acoustical properties, even the view from the windows. What a recording produces is a separate phenomenon, something really much stranger than the playing itself, since what you hear on tape or disc is indeed the same playing, but divorced from its natural context.
What is the importance of this natural context? The natural context provides a score which the players are unconsciously interpreting in their playing. Not a score that is explicitly articulated in the music and hence of no further interest to the listener as is generally the case in traditional music, but one that coexists inseparably with the music, standing side by side with it and sustaining it. Once in conversation I mentioned that scores like those of LaMonte Young for example "Draw a straight line and follow it" could in their inflexibility take you outside yourself, stretch you to an extent that could not occur spontaneously.
To this the guitarist replied that 'you get legs dangling down there and arms floating around, so many fingers and one head' and that that was a very strict composition. And that is true: not only can the natural environment carry you beyond your own limitations, but the realization of your own body as part of that environment is an even stronger dissociative factor. Thus is it that the natural environment is itself giving birth to something, which you then carry as a burden; you are the medium of the music.
At this point your moral responsibility becomes hard to define. But listening for effects is only first steps in AMM listening. After a while you stop skimming, start tracking, and go where it takes you. Postulate that the true appreciation of music consists in emotional surrender, and the expression music-lover becomes graphically clear and literally true.
Anyone familiar with the basis of much near-eastern music will require no further justification for the assertion that music is erotic.
Nevertheless, decorum demands that the erotic aspect of music be approached with circumspection and indirectly. That technical mastery is of no intrinsic value in music or love should be clear to anyone with a knowledge of musical history: Brahms was a greater composer than Mendelssohn, though it can be truly asserted that Mendelssohn displayed more brilliance in technical matters. Elaborate forms and a brilliant technique conceal a basic inhibition, a reluctance to directly express love, a fear of self-exposure.
Esoteric books of love the Kama Sutra for example and esoteric musical theories such as Stockhausen's and Goeyvaerts' early serial manipulations lose a lot of their attraction when they are readily available to all. Love is a dimension like time, not some small thing that has to be made more interesting by elaborate preamble. The basic dream -of both love and music- is of a continuity, something that will live forever. The simplest practical attempt at realising this dream is the family.
In music we try to eliminate time psycholgically [sic] to work in time in such a way that it loses its hold on us, relaxes its pressure. Quoting Wittgenstein again: "If by eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present". On the repertoire of musical memories and the disadvantages of a musical education. The great merit of a traditional musical notation, like the traditional speech notation ie writing, is that it enables people to say things that are beyond their own understanding.
A 12yearold can read Kant aloud; a gifted child can play late Beethoven. Obviously 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. Current experiments in mixed-media notations are an attempt to evade this empty formality. Over the past 15 years many special-purpose notation-systems have been devised with blurred areas in them that demand an improvised interpretation.
An extreme example of this tendency is my own TREATISE which consists of pages of graphic score with no systematic instructions as to the interpretation and only the barest hints such as an empty pair of 5line systems below every page to indicate that the interpretation is to be musical. The danger in this kind of work is that many readers of the score will simply relate the musical memories they have already acquired to the notation in front of them, and the result will be merely a gulash made up of the various musical backgrounds of the people involved.
For such players there will be no intelligible incentive to music or extend themselves beyond the limitations of their education and experience.
Ideally such music should be played by a collection of musical innocents; but in a culture where musical education is so widespread at least among musicians and getting more and more so, such innocents are extremely hard to find. Treatise attempts to locate such musical innocents wherever they survive, by posing a notation that does not specifically demand an ability to read music.
On the other hand, the score suffers from the fact that it does demand a certain facility in reading graphics, ie a visual education. Mathematicians and graphic artists find the score easier to read than musicians; they get more from it. But of course mathematicians and graphic artists do not generally have sufficient control of sound-media to produce "sublime" musical performances. My most rewarding experiences with Treatise have come through people who by some fluke have a acquired a visual education, b escaped a musical education and c have nevertheless become musicians, ie play music to the full capacity of their beings.
Occasionally in jazz one finds a musician who meets all these stringent requirements; but even there it is extremely rare.
File:Cardew Cornelius Treatise Handbook 1970.pdf
Seattle Improvisation Meeting. A Young Persons Guide to Treatise 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. Composers like Brown, Cage, Feldman, Wolff and others were part of a sea change that enabled multiplicity to grow out of the modernist framework. 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.
I am trying to think of the various different kinds of virtue or strength that can be developed by the musician. My chief difficulty in preparing this article lies in the fact that vice makes fascinating conversation, whereas virtue is viewed to best advantage in action. I therefore decide on an illustrative procedure. Who can remain unmoved by the biography of Florence Nightingale in Encyclopaedia Britannica? The career of Ludwig Wittgenstein the philosopher brother of the famous lefthand pianist who emigrated to America -whose writings incidentally are full of musical insights- provides an equally stirring example:. He used a large inheritance to endow a literary prize.