Tempo (New Series)

Research Article

Cardew's ‘Treatise’ (mainly the visual aspects)

Brian Dennis

Cornelius Cardew's 193–page Treatise is the longest and most elaborate piece of Graphic Music ever made. Although it was intended for improvisation and realization, using as many or as few pages as required, and with no fixed rules of interpretation, the piece can be regarded as a graphic construction inspired by music – and with ‘music’, in the broadest sense, as its subject matter. It was influenced by the philosophy of Frege and Wittgenstein, and in particular the latter's exhaustive treatise Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which not only inspired the title but almost certainly the composer's economical approach to this endeavour and the rigorous development of his material. It was composed from 1963 to 67.