The Great Learning (Excerpts)





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Uploaded on Mar 28, 2010

Excerpts from "Paragraph 7" of The Great Learning (1969) by Cornelius Cardew.

Directed by Gascia Ouzounian; Video by Conan McIvor and Stuart Sloan; Audio by Chris Corrigan

Featuring Bird On A Wire: Niesha Allen, Rachel Austin, Pawet Bignell, Matt Green, Ciara Hickey, Gascia Ouzounian, Una Monaghan, Matthew Roger, Sile O'Modrhain, Richard O'Rawe, Tara Plunkett, Caroline Pugh

Programme notes:
Cornelius Cardews The Great Learning was originally composed for the Scratch Orchestra an ensemble of musically-trained and non-musically trained members who interpreted verbal and graphic scores, and who were active from 1969-1974. Paragraph 7 from The Great Learning is a verbal score; it is composed of 24 lines of text. Each line indicates a new word or phrase, and is repeated a different number of times at different amplitude levels, as indicated in the score. Members of the choir choose a new pitch for each new line, always matching pitches that are already sounding in the room; they introduce a previously unheard pitch when no new pitch can be found or sung from the existing group of pitches.

The text for The Great Learning is based on translations of Confucius (551 BC479 BC) by Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Confuciuss The Great Learning espouses harmony, balance, and a quest for moral refinement, virtue, and peace of mind. The entire text of Paragraph 7 reads, "If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well governed. The solid cannot be swept away as trivial and nor can trash be established as solid. It just does not happen. Mistake not cliff for morass and treacherous bramble." In Paragraph 7, both the structure of the music, and the music itself, describe a system of organization built around contingency: each element in a group is ordered through its influences and dependencies upon other elements.

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