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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. If, for the improviser, music is fundamentally unscripted — or unscriptable — why would she compose or perform with notation at all?
Its long historical shadow, and the variety of ways performers have dealt with its notation, make it uniquely suited for such an inquiry. In contrast to most of the pieces included in Tactile Pathsit enjoys a rich and diverse performance history, mainstream publication by C.
Peters, and substantial critical and scholarly attention.
Cirnelius it may be considered canonical is, however, ironic; the score is deliberately incomplete. It is a score consisting entirely of lines and shapes.
It contains no sounds, no directions to putative performers […] pages of lines and shapes, clustered around a strong, almost continuous central line, which can be imagined as the lifeline of the reader, his center, codnelius which all handbok of activity takes place […] Cardew Each is free to interpret it in his own way.
Any rigidity of interpretation is automatically thwarted by the confluence of different personalities. Whereas semantic vagaries in many scores for improvisers lacking conventional notation 2 or comprehensive written legends can be partially resolved by consulting the composer or hhandbook practice, Treatise makes a feature of, and perhaps depends on, interpretive murk. Not only must a player decide how to interpret the notation at the molecular level; she must, in the context of an ensemble realization, negotiate its implementation corneius others, either verbally during rehearsal, on the fly during performance, handbok both.
These three levels of interpretation may, and often do, contradict each other. Treatise published in Sound Caddew 12 Wooley a, b bear this out abundantly. Their visual-semiotic meanings change frequently, as for example when a circle acts as a geometric motif on one page, and becomes a musical note on the next.
Sooner or later, any consistency in the interpretation of a given element is therefore undermined. A noble intention, this communion, but how has rteatise worked in practice, if at all? Even veteran performers have expressed their doubts. Treatise is in fact an obstacle between the musicians and the audience […] Treatise was a large-scale opus on which I wasted more hours of craftsmanship and intellectual effort than I care to recall.
It would gratify me to sell the manuscript to some sleepy bourgeois at an inflated price and thus receive at least some compensation for that waste. In addition to its regular trextise appearance and many recordings, it is often taught in university courses and workshops throughout Europe and the US.
Inspired by this tension between a panoply of paradoxes within the score, and a dazzling legacy without, I began my study of Treatise with the following question: It did not resolve the question above once and for all: Indeed making A Treatise Remix revealed far more about my own assumptions and methods than about Treatise per se.
Not a discussion of representing objects. A Treatise Remix began with the aim of audibly comparing and contrasting a wide cross-section of Treatise recordings — their styles, self-imposed rules of interpretation, instrumentations, and so on. The format chosen for this comparison was a studio-assembled collage containing multiple recordings of selected pages sounding simultaneously. From here, I hypothesized, one might begin to theorize the gaps between notation and performance that Treatise so relentlessly interrogates.
I began by collecting a library of fifteen commercial recordings, six archival and broadcast recordings, and a few dozen more published online. Treatise discography Tilbury, comments on particular versions in assorted publications Cardew ; Andersona network of resourceful colleagues, a helpful producer Marcus Gammeland of course the internet.
The library encompassed a vast stylistic breadth, spanning relatively straightforward chamber music realizations, digital sonifications of the entire score, atmospheric post-rock and noise renderings, and free jazz satire. Given this unruly tangle, my initial strategy to layer them in a meta-interpretative collage was bound to be messy. To keep the mess to a minimum, the collage would be held together by musical events or qualities shared between different recordings; audible interpretive trends would, ostensibly, provide the listener a structural thread throughout the piece.
The second task was then to locate these trends — to comb through the library and identify traits common to multiple recordings. My success was moderate; the findings were diverse. There were score-bound traits e. There were conventional trends e. But my inquiry was artistic rather than scientific, and shortly after beginning this intermediate step, I realized my attention would be far more fruitfully directed toward understanding the differences between recordings.
These were richer and greater in number, and, as I will explain, they crippled my initial strategy for the collage. Two lines of difference brought this discovery to a fine point. There is a great difference between: Of course you can let the score work on previously given material, but you must have it work actively.
Among the source material there is a wide spectrum of fidelity to the notation as symbols for sound production — from the literal to loose, and everything in between.
Indeed one hesitates to call it an interpretation; rather than assign rules to the score as the basis for performance, Feeney feeds digital image files of the entire score through a computer program that reads the pages as bit maps. Each page has an equal duration of ca.
They also assign particular types of sounds hissing, phonemes, clapping, etc.
These materials and occasional text appear to be precisely and consistently worked out before performance; it is safe to presume that the coordination of twenty-three voices would be otherwise impracticable. This interpretation consistently respects the lifeline which divides corneliks ensemble orchestrationally — cello and clarinet above, piano hancbook electronics belownumbers which signify repeated tutti chordscircles performed exclusively by the percussionistand the rough left-to-right order of the symbols.
The sounds assigned to most symbols in the score — presumably also chosen by the players themselves — are less consistent and more context dependent, varying from page to page. These relatively minor variables render global coordination of parts within pages somewhat unpredictable. A palpably interactive discourse results from performers adapting their materials within the spontaneous polyphony.
Versions by the 2: Here not all visual information in the score, apparently, is employed symbolically in performance. But the presence of some symbols remains audible, emerging and receding over time in function of the ongoing improvised musical development. Numbers and dots in haandbook recordings, for example, often though not always represent repeated events and percussive punctuations respectively, acting as clear markers in a seemingly looser whole.
Without having any preconceived ideas about what I will play — except by virtue of the instrumentation I will apply — I immerse myself within the sounds corneliua the music, unfolding, reading the score as if it rreatise a visual representation of the music.
I then engage in a dialogue with the other players, using the inspiration of sounds and symbols to add my own voice. These are, of course, simultaneous readings they always are. For him, placing real-time cardee chronologically and ontologically before the symbols is not merely a personal choice; it is an imperative:. Art enters when the musician synthesizes the material. To move forward is to concoct new patterns of thought, which in turn dictate the design of the models and tretise.
I shall return to this point.
A Young Persons Guide to Treatise
These versions can be described as having an inspirational, atmospheric, or subjective connection to the score, with no apparent deferral to the concrete notated symbols.
When performances adopt a more consistent, literal approach to interpreting the notation, forensically inferring interpretive principles from the musical results is relatively straightforward. However when an interpretive approach is more flexible or abstract, comparison can easily become a guessing game, particularly if no page numbers or artist comments are available.
What I identify as a free improvisation, because I cannot recognize correspondences between visual symbols and musical events, may not necessarily be so; the rules of interpretation may simply be less obvious.
This happened to me repeatedly when first listening to fast paced performances of many pages — even to strictly symbolic readings such as VC. Such methodological problems compounded the differences in symbolicity I initially sought to cut through; they increased the difficulty of carrying out my plan to base A Treatise Remix on interpretive trends. This became especially clear in my first practical experiments with the collage.
Even when I was able to identify the beginning and end of a particular page in multiple recordings, substantial links among different interpretations were mostly circumstantial. The fact that two or three versions of a given page shared some interpretive trait X was no guarantee they shared any other qualities that could establish the thread I counted on finding in the fog.
Conversely, qualities irrelevant to Treatisesuch as recording artifacts or the simultaneous sounding of a particular instrument in different ensembles, tended to audibly link recordings much more clearly than interpretive content. Notation for the improviser is thus no guarantee of stability. Remember that space does not correspond literally to time. The distance to the sun does not depend on only one speed; it depends on the route.
Symbols or groups can then be grouped immediately and as a whole and placed in relation to some such time-line. The second line of difference, in which hardly any two recordings are alike, is time. As one can see in Treatise Handbookthe number of pages selected for any given performance, the durations of individual pages, and the duration of events assigned to particular symbols within each page are staggeringly diverse.
A few examples should suffice to show this problem:. Although it is difficult to categorize these approaches, time is by no means an arbitrary or independent parameter in individual performances.
As I suggested in the previous section, the tempi of many recordings defined by the duration of pages, rather than by pulse are closely connected to the audible presence of their symbolicity. Due to the slow tempo, the physicality of his sustained circular rubbing movements on drum heads overshadows the correlation of symbols and events as such. Hannafin dwells within the circles on the page so long that the circle-ness of the page becomes a constant and recedes into the background.
However, in the Lange and the BBC recordings, symbols are easier to identify as gestures or discrete events within the musical discourse. One hears repeated events, percussive outbursts, and glissandi corresponding proportionally to symbols on the page.
These tempi can therefore be considered to be moderate. Although I was unable to find any direct correspondences between the score and the interpretive content other than a short Luftpause toward the end, I continued to sense that what I was hearing could or should correspond because the pacing of the music was comparable with the density of visual information in the score: All these shades of temporal complexity created second-order disjunctions — both between the recordings and between the collage and the score — in the process of layering recordings in my collage.
Like the differences in symbolicity I mentioned in the previous section, these disjunctions posed a challenge to the original plans for A Treatise Remix. To understand how, consider the following test scenario. Three versions of p. I wish to line up the three tracks so these attacks happen more or less at the same time, thus encouraging the listener to associate the interpretive commonality. This would render the following sequence: To compensate, should pp.