Beatrice Gibson


Between script and score : notation and movement in the work of Cornelius Cardew

This practice based PhD explores experimental notation within the work of Cornelius Cardew. This exploration is undertaken, not only through historical theoretical research, but also through my practice as a film maker: the score is employed as a model for moving image production, and the potential relation between the score and the script investigated at the level of practice. Using a methodology that collapses the binary between theory and paractice and argues for practice as an equally valid form of knowledge production, this research is constituted by an introductory essay, three films, a publication and a screenplay. These works are presented as in conversation with Cardew, a testing out of his methods within the landscape of the contemporary.

The title of this thesis points to its deployment of Cardew as a biographical character - a trope Giles Deleuze might term a conceptual persona - whose own compositional trajectory fundamentally encapsulates the issues at the heart of this PhD: its investigation of the relationship between theory and practice, form and content, aesthetics and politics. Cardew’s work is thus used as narrative device to navigate the terrain of experimental notation, and to tease out a set of strategies inherent to post war composition that are then subsequently applied to film making. Two scores in particular are addressed: Treatise and The Tiger’s Mind. Cardew’s assertion, in his accompnaying handbook to Treatise, that ‘notation is a way of making people move’ is key to the trajectory of the research. The term movement is explored on several levels, from the literal - the gathering together of bodies - to the more abstract - the interpretive shifts triggered by the indeterminancies of notation as a linguistic system. Finally movement is considered in relation to emotion, and with that a more speculative direction for future research proposed.

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