to ensure its cultural expansion

5. Research Project

A fifth repertory category may be evolved through the Research Project, an activity obligatory for all the members of the Scratch Orchestra, to ensure its cultural expansion.

The Research Project. The universe is regarded from the viewpoint of travel. This means that an infinite number of research vectors are regarded as hypothetically travellable. Travels may be undertaken in many dimensions, e.g. temporal, spatial, intellectual, spiritual, emotional. I imagine any vector will be found to impinge on all these dimensions at some point or other. For instance, if your research vector is the Tiger, you could be in volved in time (since the tiger represents an evolving species), space (a trip to the zoo), intellect (the tiger’s biology), spirit (the symbolic values acuired by the tiger) and emotion (your subjective relation to the animal).

The above is an intellectual structure, so for a start let’s make the research vector a a word or group of words rather than an object or an impression etc. A record of research is kept in the Scratchbook and this record may be made available to all.


Research vector: The Sun
Research record: Looked up astronomical data in EB & made notes to the accpt of dustmotes (symbol of EB) and sunbeams
1-28.vii. Holiday in the Bahamas to expose myself to the sun
29.vii. Saw ‘the Sun’ as a collection of 6 letters and wrote out the 720 combinations of them.
1.viii. Go interested in Sun’s m. or f. gender in different languages, and thence to historical personages regarded as the Sun (like Mao Tse-Tung). Sought an astrological link between them.

Cornelius Cardew in
Cox, Christoph and Daniel Warner, Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. New York: Continuum, 2004. 236-7.

a kind of objectivity

What is, or seems to be, new in this music? …One finds a concern for a kind of objectivity, almost anonymity—sound come into its own. The ‘music’ is a resultant existing simply in the sounds we hear, given no impulse by expressions of self or personality. It is indifferent in motive, originating in no psychology nor in dramatic intentions, nor in literary or pictorial purposes. For at least some of these composers, then, the final intention is to be free of artistry and taste. But this need not make their work ‘abstract,’ for nothing, in the end, is denied. It is simply that personal expression, drama, psychology, and the like are not part of the composer’s initial calculation: they are at best gratuitous.

The procedure of composing tends to be radical, going directly to the sounds and their characteristics, to the way in which they are produced and how they are notated.

Christian Wolff “New and Electronic Music” quoted in
Cage, John. Silence. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1967. 68.

let’s do something new

A sharp where you’d expect a natural. A natural where you’d expect a sharp. No rule observed but the exception(al) and then first happy thought: bring in a harp.

Step on the tonic. Step on the tonic again. Let’s do something new.

Nicolas Slonimsky, “The Revolution in Twentieth Century Music” in
Amirkhanian, Charles, “Heavy Aspirations” (1973). 10+2:12 American Text Sound Pieces. San Francisco: Other Minds, Inc. 2003. CD.

A Compositional Problem (States of Erasure)

A Compositional Problem (States of Erasure)

It all the Greeks
were who that for
is at the beautiful of
to us precise

two which is and
that which is
carries, but when
of precise means

this of course does not refer
what rhapsodizes in is
it’s own construction

the fact that opposite
is not what is,
is their what they are
no more no

is, is from its process itself
might the of our age
of means is now the most

thundered for other
than their let’s is my
clear things not
to philosophy

Let’s I the I death
of poetry my
generation I
too, I, too, I, too like
like object autonomous

many the most of has been its
arch its text to forms
want such such
from all why as did so years

all too good to be too to last
dichotomy grace of grace
closer warning that a
felt this first
form this warming took

took was a strange
themselves to taking
on a had as though

told me that that
this must crucial
forms place state
of erasure

color, color robs
sound me a stencil deceptive of a sound
blur larger it a meaning
does not in my ear

out instruments not symmetry
live of other things
that in spite to trammel flown
to make something is to constrain it

Morton Feldman, “A Compositional Problem.” 1972
The Mine King 2010