After the Summer Sun...

Two up-coming and exciting events are keeping me busy.

Friday 16 September 2011

South London Art Gallery, London 7.30pm
VOCAL CONSTRUCTRIVISTS perform Cornelius Cardew's 'Treatise'

Cornelius Cardew was a leading figure in experimental music of the 1960s and 70s and is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of graphic notation. A graphic score is a form of musical notation comprising shapes, symbols, numbers, lines and elements of traditional musical notation, which is interpreted by the musicians. Pitch, rhythm, tempo and instrumentation are determined with each new performance merging the role of composer with that of performer.
His 193-page graphic score, Treatise, has been performed by both electronic and acoustic instrumentalists over the last 48 years, but this is the first performance relying solely on the human body.

4-6 November 2011

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

On 4-6 November 2011, the Music Department at Princeton University will host a conference devoted to the history of polyphony in Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The aim is to provide as broad a sampling as possible of scholarship currently ongoing in this area, to invite discussion of future research goals and priorities, and to promote the setting up of collaborative projects and networks.

My Abstract
Elina G. Hamilton (Bangor University)
The Bread and Butter of Musica in the Middle Ages: The Endurance and Longevity of Theoretical Knowledge
“If all other musical tracts hitherto mentioned, from the time of Boethius to Franco and John Cotton, were lost, our knowledge would not be much diminished provided this manuscript were accessible.” This was Charles Burney’s entry for the fourteenth-century treatise, De speculatione musicaby Walter of Evesham, in his History of Music published in 1776. It is still commonly acknowledged among scholars today that the texts by Boethius, Isidore, Cassiodorus and Guido (and later Lambertus and Franco of Cologne) became sources of authority for the compilation of new compendium manuscripts. However, although the incorporation of authoritative texts is evident, they are at times selective: specific passages from these authoritative sources seem to have been favoured and disseminated from one century to another more consistently while other sections were completely ignored. Curiously, the question why certain teachings were favoured over others in the newly composed treatises or how they were intended to be used for educational purposes has never been thoroughly explored.
Two fourteenth-century theoretical treatises from England, the Quatuor principalia, attributed to John of Tewkesbury, and Walter of Evesham’s De speculatione musica, exhibit significantly different methods of incorporating authoritative texts. Can we learn from the choice of selection made by theorists and the emphasis they placed on certain concepts of music? Is there a consistency which can help us identify where and how these treatises may have been used? Was the content of new compendiums left completely up to the author’s particular aspiration or was there a greater plan for instruction imbedded among these works? Such burning questions still remain largely under-studied and deserve further consideration if we are to understand the placement and significance of musica speculativaamongst musica practica. This paper will approach these theoretical treatises as pedagogical works in the hope to better understand their practical usage.