Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cornelius Cardew | Treatise

Cornelius Cardew
Buffalo, USA: The Gallery Upstairs Press, 1967
193 pp., 17 x 29 cm., spiral bound
Edition size unknown

Treatise is a graphic musical score composed between 1963 and 1967, the year of the above publication. The score is comprised of lines, symbols, and various geometric and abstract shapes, and no explicit instruction to the performers on how to perform the work. "The notation is more important than the sound," wrote Cardew, "Not the exactitude and success with which a notation notates a sound; but the musicalness of the notation in its notating."

The above images are from the Detroit Library Tumblr site, here. A 47 MB PDF of the entire work can be downloaded here. Sonic Youth play a 3:29 minute excerpt of page 183 on their 1999 release SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century, here.

Cardew died 35 years ago today, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident near his London home in Leyton. The driver was never found, leading some to speculate that Cardew was killed for his Marxist-Leninist views. John Tilbury, in his book Cornelius Cardew—A Life Unfinished, quotes Cardew friend John Maharg as saying "MI5 are quite ruthless; people don't realize it. And they kill pre-emptively".

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