Treatise

The Vocal Constructivists performed the first ever sung rendition of Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise (1963-67) at the South London Gallery on September 16, 2011.

The concert was a great success, and led to a further engagement, at a three-day festival devoted to Cornelius Cardew at Morley College, 9-11 December, 2011 (http://www.theengineroom2011.com).

Cardew’s 193-page graphic score comprises a variety of shapes, symbols, numbers, and lines, and other elements of traditional musical notation that have been extended, truncated, and fragmented. There is no key to help decipher the notation, requiring musicians to devise their own methods and means of interpretation. With the parameters of pitch, rhythm, tempo, and instrumentation to be determined anew each time, Treatise merges the role of composer with that of performer.

While pages from Treatise have been played by acoustic and electronic instrumentalists in various settings over the last 48 years, these performances represented the first realisation of the complete work reliant solely on the human body.