Friday, 19 December 2014


Before playing, do something inappropriate. Keep doing it until it feels inappropriate to start playing. Start playing.


Improvisation Rite No 3


When you're not playing, look for a girl in red stockings.


Improvisation Rite No 2


Two classes of performers: improvisers and stone-throwers, the former class to contain more members than the latter.

The stone throwers throw stones to miss the improvisers and cause no damage, this a vigour proportionate to the intensity of the sound.


Appendix: There are no penalties for hitting an improviser or damaging an object as it is assumed this will not occur.


Measure length, breadth and height of room of performance, taking account of any consistent prominences. Use the figures in any way to arrange sounds.


A: Measured Up Music

Thursday, 11 December 2014





17 people play simultaneously at one piano.


Michael Chant. A: Poverty. I originally meant loudly and continually.


The group assembles, one of the members being elected BIG LEADER. When there is silence, The BIG LEADER makes a sound, as short and quiet as possible. He is then challenged. the challenging member attempting to produce a sound even shorter and more quiet than the first. In the midst of great celebration, the challenger becomes the BIG LEADER. The process then continues until all members have had a chance of becoming BIG LEADER. The Challenger who last comes BIG LEADER is named as the SUPER BIG LEADER. There is great celebration; drinking, music, &c.


Improvisation Rite.  Conventions:
  1. Any challenger must fuirst be announced.
  2. It is generally accepted that the challenger always wins.
  3. Nobody is allowed to become BIG Leader more than once.


Take a stupid book. A reader reads aloud from it while the rest improvise. The role of the reader may wander
  1. through the reader presenting the stupid book to someone else, and
  2. by someone wresting the stupid book from the reader.
A reader may attempt to terminate proceedings by ceasing to read aloud from the stupid book.


Stupid book rite. To end, stronger measures may be necessary, eg. Destruction of the SB.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Announce a collective improvisation in which anyone can take part. The announcement should be accompanied by the following text:

"Look around and let yourself be drawn to a person whom you like. Study his face, gestures and movements for a while. Then take a sum of money, preferably all you have in your pocket, and give it to him. Then start again."

Musicians attempt to be more likeable than the general public. It is not important whether or no money is actually raised. End is open.


Frederic Rzewski. Fund-raising Rite.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


For any number of people, preferably unknown to each other, making any kind of vocal or physical sound; no instruments to be used.

Performance to take place in any large area, inside or outside, with everyone scattered throughout whole areas, widely separated from each other as possible. A person stays in the same place throughout the performance; physical motion of all kind to be kept to a minimum.

Sounds can be of any kind produced from the person, i.e. vocal sounds (singing, speaking whispering, shouting, crying, laughing, hissing, etc) or from the body (hissing, slapping, clapping, etc).

Sounds are made mainly in response to other sounds, therefore a sound made should have some meaning to the person making it. This meaning can be verbal (conversational) or aural (musical), or a combination of both. A response can be immediate (spontaneous reaction to some kind of sound, probably verbal) or reflective (probably musical). He can also arouse the responce of other people by some sound; or he can just listen. In geneeral the nature of the improvisation should be still and reflective.

The performance ends for each person individually when he has nothing more he wants to do. He may then get up and leave, this being the only physical movement he makes.


Improvisation Rite. Variant: Replace first 12 lines with: - Any number of people making any sounds. Perform in a large area, as widely separated from eahc other as possible. Performers stay in the same place throughout, keeping physical movement to a minimum.


Each person entering performance space receives a number in order. anyone can give an order (imperatively obeyable) to a higher number, and must obey orders given him by a lower number. No 1 receives his orders from the current highest number (the most recently entered player); the highest number can give orders only to No 1.


Musica Elletlronica Viva Rite: If conflicts arise, a jury decides the issue. The jury is made up of those who do not wish to play the game.

Monday, 8 December 2014


Form a standing circle. Nominate a leader, who stands in the centre with eyes blindfolded. The remainder of group rotate slowly around him/her. At random the leader indicates a quarter of the group number by touching each individual. Indicated ones leave the group and become 'others'.

The leader removes his blindfold, and establishes a rhythm and a note of his choice. The group together sing the note, which once established may be enlarged upon freely; but with voice only.

At any time during above proceeding an 'outer' may touch one of the 'inner' group, who must immediately cease part in the performance and assume role of non-participating 'outer'. 'Outer' automatically becomes and 'inner' and must begin to perform a new sound or activity. One not produced by the voice.

Thus an outer may terminate any one person's participation at any time.

When the leader is touched, he forfeits his role and so doing shouts 'Porridge.' All activities and sounds much cease immediately, whereupon the new leaser must decide on a new group activity once 'outers' have been re-indicated. No verbal instruction must be given. He must begin the performance; the group imitate and enlarge upon it. Each successive rite must follow the same ritualistic pattern.


Improvisation Rite. Note: the fraction in line 4 may be adjusted. Variant for last paragraph: When the leader is touched he forfeits his role, and so doing shouts "Porridge". All participation is interrupted for a fraction at "Porridge" and then resumed. Each person's first participation (coming 'in' from 'out') and "Porridge" should be the same as new leader's activity. Suggested closing rite: When a leader considers the performance has gone on long enough, he screams a different word (not "Porridge") when touched. Whereupon all cease finally.


Initiate and improvisation in the following way: All seated loosely in a circle, each player shall write or draw on each of the ten fingernails of the player on his left. No action or sound is to be made by a player after his fingernails have received this writing or drawing other than music.

Closing rite: each player shall erase the marks from the fingernails of another player. Your participation in the music ceases when the marks have been erased from your fingernails.


Improvisation Rite. F: 'Games for Musicians' by Richard Reason. Groups of two or more late-comers may use the same rite to join an improvisation that is already in progress.


Any number of drums. Introduction of the pulse. Continuation of the pulse. Deviation through emphasis, decoration, contractions.


Drum No 1

Improvisation Rites 1969

No rights are reserved in this book of rites. The may be reproduced and performed freely. Anyone wishing to send contributions for a second set should address them to the editor: C. Cardew, 112 Elm Grove Road, London SW13.

For reasons of economy, the pages of this book are reproduced from handwritten originals. The editor wishes to apologise for any inconvenience in reading caused by this method of production.

Nature Studeny Notes is refered to in the 'Draft Constitution of A Scratch Orchestra' (Musical Times, June 1969) and is currently in use by the Scratch Orchestra. Anyone wishing to take part in these rites or any other activities in the context of the Scratch Orchestra should write to the editor.

Nature Study Notes is published by the Scratch Orchestra and distributed by Experimental Music Catalogue, 26 Avondale Park Gardens, London W11.

Rites are printed in the approximate order of collection. Notes on the rites are in alphabetical order of code names, Many rites are accompanied by a pedigree naming one or more of the following: the Mother (her initials are at the head of the code name), who wrote it down as a rite; the Father (F:), who provided the idea; any other relatives the Mother sees fit to recall; and an Ancestor (A:) or Archetype, identifying the basic human or non-human state, activity or event that the rite bears on. In the notes there is no differentiations between the Mother's remarks and those of the editor and others.