Upcoming performances

The Scratch Orchestra at 50: Notation and Performance

9 July 2019 | 18:15 | Knowledge Centre, The British Library

What does it mean to ‘write’ music? How do visual cues shape and define a musical performance? To coincide with our exhibition, Writing: Making Your Mark, we delve into the world of 1960s and 70s experimental music, where the boundaries between sound and sign blur.

In June 1969, Cornelius Cardew published a draft constitution for the Scratch Orchestra, setting out his vision for an ensemble formed of ‘a large number of enthusiasts pooling their resources… and assembling for action (music-making, performance, edification)’. To mark 50 years since the founding of the Scratch Orchestra, we explore the many approaches to notating musical events in works for and by the group. Incorporating text instruction, graphics, and elements of conventional music notation, these scores give expression to exciting new worlds of artistic possibilities. What’s more they encourage a communal approach to performance, often accessible to people with a wide range of musical abilities.

Dr Jane Alden (Wesleyan University) introduces some of these works and practises, and shows how they fit within the wider context of experiments in music notation by the likes of John Cage and others – as well as overlapping with other artistic disciplines of the time. 

Afterwards, Max Reinhardt talks to original members of the Scratch Orchestra, Carole FinerMichael Parsons and Howard Skempton about their experiences of creation, notation and performance within the group. The evening concludes with a realisation of a Scratch score by all – whatever your musical background!

Vocal Constructivists will perform before and during the events of the evening, beginning in the Knowledge Centre foyer from 18.15.

Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When:Tue 9 Jul 2019, 19:00 – 20:30
Price:Full Price: £15.00
Member: £15.00
Senior 60+: £12.00
Student: £10.00
Registered Unemployed: £10.00
Disabled: £10.00
Under 18: £10.00