Upcoming performance: “In-Form-ation” on 1 June

Treatise p137

The Vocal Constructivists will be presenting a concert titled “In-Form-ation” at Canterbury Christ Church University on 1 June, 2014 at 4:15 PM. Their performance will be part of the Music and/as Process 2nd Annual Conference, which aims to bring scholars and musicians together to promote a better understanding of musical processes across various genres. The concert will feature pieces by Pauline Oliveros, Charles Céleste Hutchins, Lauren Redhead, and Michael Parsons, as well as Cornelius Cardew’s iconic Treatise.

To book tickets and learn more about the Music and/as Process Conference, click here.

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Inaugural concert and Morley festival

The Vocal Constructivists performed the first ever sung rendition of Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise (1963-67) at the South London Gallery on September 16, 7:30pm. Short clips are available at

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The concert was a great success, and led to a further engagement, at a three-day festival devoted to Cornelius Cardew at Morley College, 9-11 December, 2011 (http://www.theengineroom2011.com).Clips of this performance are available at

Cardew’s 193-page graphic score comprises a variety of shapes, symbols, numbers, and lines, and other elements of traditional musical notation that have been extended, truncated, and fragmented. There is no key to help decipher the notation, requiring musicians to devise their own methods and means of interpretation. With the parameters of pitch, rhythm, tempo, and instrumentation to be determined anew each time, Treatise merges the role of composer with that of performer.

While pages from Treatise have been played by acoustic and electronic instrumentalists in various settings over the last 48 years, these performances represented the first realisation of the complete work reliant solely on the human body.


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Who are we?


Vocal Constructivists September 2011

We are VOCAL CONSTRUCTIVISTS, on account of the resemblance between pages of Treatise and Constructivist architecture. We are also building something…

It being a bit of a mouthful, we first considered COR (the nickname by which Cornelius was known to his friends, which has the virtue of brevity, homonym of “Chor”, and he liked 3-letter names, like AMM), but we didn’t want to limit ourselves just to singing Cardew.

The group was formed in 2011 to give the first ever sung performance of Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise. Believing the score’s length to be a crucial part of its identity, we decided to perform the work in its entirety. The group explored the idiosyncratic notation as a form of social practice, the score supplying open-ended vocabulary for collective discourse. In keeping with the politics of the piece, no one individual assumed the role of artistic director. Instead, all musical decisions came from the group, worked out in collaboration. An Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life grant will enable the Vocal Constructivists to perform in the USA in spring 2013, for an event directed by Jane Alden entitled Sound, Image, and the Space In-Between.

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