Cornelius Cardew – Treatise


1. 192, 193 (4:45)
2. 100, 55 (3:39)
3. 135 (1:52)
4. 168, 169, 171, 173 (4:07)
5. 148 (2:22)
6. 15 (2:30)
7. 85, 101, 116 (5:08)
8. 178 (1:40)
9. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (4:59)
10. 183 (4:59)
11. 141 (5:34)


· Jaka Berger: drums, objects, percussion / bobni, predmeti, tolkala


Composed by / skladbe: Cornelius Cardew
Performed by / izvedba: Jaka Berger
Recorded by / snemanje: Jaka Berger at Gallery Simulaker in Novo mesto, Slovenia on 19-22/11/2021 / v Galeriji Simulaker v Novem mestu, Slovenija, 19-22. 11. 2021
Mixed and mastered by / mešal in masteriziral: Jure Gruden
Liner notes by / spremna beseda: László Juhász
Photo by / foto: Maid Hadžihasanović
Graphic scores by / grafična notacija: Cornelius Cardew
Graphic design by / oblikovanje: László Szakács
Executive producer / izvršna producentka: Nataša Serec
Associate producer / producent: László Juhász
Special thanks to / posebna zahvala: Seymour Wright, Eddie Prévost, Horace Cardew, and / in Fiona Corbett-Clark & Christoph Beyer (Edition Peters Group)


Treatise in solo

Slovenian percussionist Jaka Berger (1980) has been working with the late Cornelius Cardew’s (1936-1981) seminal graphic score since 2009. “Treatise” is often labelled as a creative excercise for smaller or larger groups of instrumentalists, yet throughout his published works “46​/​3​/​84​/115” from 2015, and “Breakfast With Cardew” from 2021, Berger has been dealing with one of the largest-scale piece of graphic notations ever put on paper, alone.

Challenging the self-invention

Written between 1963 and 1967, and published by Edition Peters in 1967, Cardew added no guidance for how “Treatise” was to be interpreted or performed. No definition was ascribed to the 67 different symbols (geometric and abstract shapes) that Cardew uses over the undetermined duration of the massive 193-page score, most of which are not connected whatsoever to conventional music notation. “Treatise” is an abstarct diagram of concepts that challenge the boundaries of what it really means to control sound, to define time and space, and to decipher symbols around us.

As the composition allows absolute interpretive freedom, there are no right or wrong ways of performing it; it is entirely open to reading. With this present realization, Berger goes back to basics and uses his primary instrument – the drum kit – in its most stripped-down form: no extensions, no additional sound sources, only pure stick hits, brush strokes and bow draws on the surface of his instrument. Another remarkable landmark on the journey of “Berger plays Cardew”.

László Juhász
August 2022


Treatise v solo izvedbi

Slovenski tolkalec Jaka Berger (1980) se od leta 2009 spoprijema s temeljno grafično partituro Corneliusa Cardewa (1936-1981). “Treatise” je pogosto označen kot ustvarjalna vaja za manjše ali večje skupine instrumentalistov, toda Berger se v vseh svojih objavljenih delih “46/3/84/115” iz leta 2015 in “Breakfast With Cardew” iz leta 2021 sam ukvarja z enim najobsežnejših grafičnih zapisov, kar jih je bilo kdajkoli prenesenih na papir.

Izzivanje samoinvencije

Cardew delu, napisanemu med letoma 1963 in 1967 ter objavljenemu pri založbi Edition Peters leta 1967, ni dodal nobenih navodil, kako naj bi ga interpretirali ali izvajali. 67 različnim simbolov (geometrijskih in abstraktnih oblik), ki jih Cardew uporablja v nedoločenem času trajanja obsežne 193-stranske partiture in od katerih večina nima nikakršne povezave s konvencionalnim glasbenim zapisom, ni bila pripisana nobena opredelitev. “Treatise” je abstrakten diagram konceptov, ki postavljajo pod vprašaj meje tega, kaj v resnici pomeni nadzorovati zvok, določati čas in prostor ter dešifrirati simbole, ki nas obkrožajo.

Ker skladba dopušča popolno interpretativno svobodo, ni pravih ali napačnih načinov izvedbe – v celoti je odprta za tolmačenje. S pričujočo izvedbo se Berger vrača k osnovam in uporablja svoje primarno glasbilo – bobnarsko garnituro – v najbolj okrnjeni obliki: brez razširitev, brez dodatnih zvočnih virov, le čisti udarci palice, poteze čopiča in risbe z lokom po površini glasbila. Še en markanten mejnik na potovanju “Berger igra Cardewa”.

László Juhász
Avgust 2022



Released: October 2022 / first edition of 300 cds
Direct purchase: Bandcamp / Discogs





“Freedom in music is conventionally associated by all with the figure of John Cage, the watershed 20th-century figure who opened up sound creation to chance, silence and the most heterodox performative approaches. What seems to escape many is that such extreme freedom almost exclusively concerns the originator, i.e. the composer himself, while the performers involved are required to be strictly faithful to the principles established by Cage, to his peculiar – yet still individual – vision.

It took the audacity, but above all the intellectual generosity, of an authentic outsider like Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) to ‘canonise’ the expedient of the graphic score, offering in fact the cue for an infinite range of expressive choices, the input for an autonomous and self-referential reading within which the original creator no longer has any say.

This is what it really means to ‘step out of the picture’, to renounce the paternity of the musical artefact in favour of Music itself: a language that is born without syntax or grammar, an atavistic condition to which, once all sorts of established stylistic features have been depleted, it aspires ever more strongly to return. In this sense Treatise (1963-68) was and still is an essential viaticum, a cult chapter and a memorandum for every experimental musician who stoically rejects compromise and seeks, through artistic practice, nothing but their own essence.

Numerous sensibilities have confronted Cardew’s milestone over time, from the ensembles AMM (of which he was a founder), Formanex, and Gerauschhersteller to soloists Oren Ambarchi, Noël Akchoté, Elizabeth Veldon, Francesco Fusaro and, last but definitely not least, biographer and disciple John Tilbury (The Tiger’s Mind, 2019). This rich tradition had already been joined in 2015 by Slovenian percussionist Jaka Berger with the album Breakfast With Cardew (self-produced under the pseudonym Brgs), and who today with greater awareness goes back on his steps hosted by Edition FriForma, a branch of László Juhász’s compatriot label Inexhaustible Editions.

Presented predominantly in bulk on the album’s eleven takes, the twenty-two pages selected from Treatise become, for Berger as well as for the listener, an opportunity to review the achievements made in the field of extended techniques in relation to percussion instruments: no longer just rhythmic elements, but rather ensembles of surfaces and material components within which dense tones and multifaceted timbres are concealed; a microcosm of resonances revealed by means of bows and extraneous objects recontextualised in order to transfigure, even just in the smallest of details, the known face of the drumkit.

The performance thus takes on the features of an all-encompassing phenomenological investigation that does not fail to emphasise the beat as the primordial matrix of musical gesture: among the various incursions based on swirling broken rhythms – the most obvious side of a virtuosity that is also meant ‘vertically’ –, Berger willingly relies on the unmediated physicality of the hands in direct contact with the skins and cymbals, and in no case takes for granted the use of sticks, mallets and other appendages, so that each sequence represents an elusive acoustic singularity, not entirely identifiable in pure listening.

Lastly, the most radical choice: with a laconic white space above the lines of the staff, page 141 reconnects to Cage’s 4’33” but takes its assumption even further, as it is freed even from the concepts of ‘movement’ and ‘time’ (albeit in a strictly chronological, non-musical sense). Berger simply translates it into an inaction from which voices, footsteps, and ambient noises in the distance emerge, and which nevertheless could have lasted half or ten times as long as the five and a half minutes of this iteration. Even white, on the other hand, is certainly open to different readings, being the additive synthesis of all colours and a formal negation behind which can reside tranquillity as well as absolute chaos; in short, a page that, more than any other, is still to be fully written.

In light of the complete arbitrariness offered by the graphic score – devoid as it is of classical notation, basically ‘drawn’ –, shouldn’t every rendition of it be considered as a sheer improvisation? Ultimately, yes, and this is, perhaps, the greatest testament left by the pioneer Cardew to posterity: the altruism of offering an inspiration, a spark of creative ingenuity to whoever needs it, without then claiming ownership of the flame that spontaneously emanates from it. But the very fact that a single work can potentially contain all of its conceivable interpretations (including Jaka Berger’s excellent, imaginative display), thereby eliding the concepts of right and wrong, is in itself sufficient to count Treatise among the most important contributions to the evolution of contemporary music.” / Michele Palozzo, Esoteros, 28 November 2022


“Med letoma 1963 in 1967 je angleški eksperimentalni skladatelj, improvizator, politični radikalec in praktik Cornelius Cardew zasnoval v konceptualnem smislu nadvse lucidno, v tipografskem pa preprosto čudovito 193-stransko grafično partituro komada Treatise. Srž namembnosti pričujoče kompozicije je bila v poskusu osvoboditve glasbe od rigoroznega objema tradicionalne notacije, s tem pa v nekoliko širšem prizadevanju za korak vstran od predpostavljenega elitizma povojnega modernizma in drugih takrat navzočih praktičnih in formalnih postavk panevropske umetne glasbe. To in druge – mestoma bistveno bolj politično naravnane – borbe je Cardew predano bil praktično do samega konca svojega življenja. V tem vsekakor ni bil prvi, še manj pa zadnji. Je bil pa v svojem gromkem angažmaju, v pragmatično oporečniški drži znotraj akademskega polja in v čvrstem nagonu za revolucionarno akcijo zagotovo eden pronicljivejših, zlasti na Otoku.

Tu se mimogrede v ospredje pririne razmislek o pridevniški rabi besede eksperiment v kontekstu označevanja glasbenih izrazov in form muziciranja – Cardewa smo vendarle na začetku relativno nonšalantno oklicali za eksperimentalnega skladatelja. Corneliusova drža je bila v svojem temelju vedno eksplicitno opozicijska – tudi lastne prakse in obče prijeme institucionalizirane avantgarde je denimo v zloglasni knjigi Stockhausen Serves Imperialism ostro obsodil in razgalil mnoga intrigantna notranja protislovja. Njegovo glasbeno delo ravno tako jasno stoji kot uperjeno v potenciale praktične negacije vzpostavljenih paradigmatskih okvirov. Ravno v vsem slednjem je Cardew pravnomočno eksperimentalen. V zadnjem obdobju pa je glasbeni eksperiment oziroma konkretno označevalec »eksperimentalno« najpogosteje uporabljen kot goli predikat, ki v smislu glasbene vsebine določene žanrske godbe napeljuje na bolj ali manj nereflektirano čudnost in/ali eklektičnost uporabljenega materiala. Izven računice je torej odvzeta temeljna refleksija o dejanskosti forme, o pogojih njene standardizacije. V takšnem kontekstu je »eksperimentalno« v glasbi zgolj sopotnik njenega trženja – posebna niša za poseben profil potrošnika.

Naj se zgornjega ne tolmači kot žugajoče moralne obsodbe. Za tovrstne in druge tendence obstajajo konkretni sistemski razlogi. Tako kot za tiste znotraj potencialne refleksije o odsotnosti mlajših improvizacijskih oziroma novoglasbeniških grupacij, ki bi se v svojem delovanju ukvarjale z odkrito politizacijo. Skratka grupacij tipa AMM, še prej pa tiste druge polovice Scratch Orchestra – član prve in ustanovitelj druge je bil Cardew sam. Vendar so vse to bistveni razmisleki, okrog katerih v kontekstu tokrat obravnavane plošče preprosto ne moremo. V igri je namreč ravno grafična kompozicija Treatise, ampak, kot bomo videli, po svoje povsem odtujena od svoje prvenstvene vloge.

Širokopotezni tolkalec Jaka Berger oziroma Brgs je 12. novembra letos izdal že svojo tretjo ploščo, na kateri se primarno ubada z interpretacijo grafik na straneh obsežne partiture Treatise. Izšla je pri domači založbi Inexhaustible Editions. Založbo vodi László Juhász, ki je med drugim Brgsa spodbudil, da se tokrat v nalogo poda brez sintetičnih vstavkov in elektrofonskih primesi, torej opremljen izključno s svojim bobnarskih setom in raznimi rekviziti in preparacijami. To je tudi storil. V enajstih, v povprečju relativno kratkih komadih na albumu Brgs v mnogoterih slogovnih potezah interpretira enkrat posamezne, drugič na podlagi lastnega semantičnega sistema združene strani partiture, vse brez njemu še tako ljubih sintetizatorskih kooperacij. Pa naj ne bo pomote, tu ne gre za sprotno improvizacijo ob branju navzočih grafik – Cardew sicer namensko ne predpostavi nobenih konkretnih navodil za branje in izvedbo, a naj bi bila srž interpretacije vseeno v vnaprejšnjem dogovoru o pomenu znakov in simbolov, ki naj ga nato izvajalec ali skupina udejanja skozi muziciranje.

Tako kot za umetniške procese onkraj komercializacijskih poti v splošnem velja, da v toku zgodovine postajajo vedno bolj individualistični, zreducirani na temelje golega odnosa umetnika in njegovega izkustvenega aparata do umetniškega dela, je tudi Brgsova najnedavnejša interpretacija Treatise predvsem to. Se pravi dogodek za vajo, za dograjevanje, nadgrajevanje in klesanje glasbenikovega interpretativnega aparata, vzvodov muzikalnih sposobnosti in tako dalje. Je skratka nekaj izredno osebnega, povečini stvar Brgsovih individualnih umetniških ambicij. Tudi sam je denimo dejal, da je ne glede na sodelovanje v delavnici Corneliusovega sogodbenika in tovariša Keitha Rowa začel graditi povsem lastne moduse branja in interpretiranja Treatise. Seveda je tudi to ena predpostavljenih namembnosti kompozicije, kar želimo artikulirati je le to, da delo v tem primeru skoraj popolnoma obide resno opozicijsko držo do dominantnih struktur umetne glasbe ali kakršenkoli politični naboj. Glasbeni eksperiment se nam tu zloži na občo dejanskost umetnika na robu kulturno-glasbenega polja znotraj kapitalističnega produkcijskega načina, na dejstvo globoko individualiziranega procesa umetnikovanja.

Brgsa in njegovega novega dela z vsemi zgornjimi pomisleki nikakor ne kritiziramo. Skušali smo zgolj osvetliti nekatere druge danosti glasbenega dela v splošnem, tiste, ki niso vezane zgolj na končni glasbeni produkt. Na tem mestu v branje ponujamo še prispevek Iča Vidmarja, iz katerega smo tudi delno izhajali – Čas odločitev: Britanska eksperimentalna in improvizirana godba v šestdesetih in sedemdesetih letih. Zapis je nastal leta 2016 na pobudo Zavoda Sploh ob koncertu Johna Tilburyja – še enega Corneliusovega sodelavca – v Cankarjevem domu.” / Luka Hreščak, Radio Študent, 25 December 2022


“Fascinating exploration of English experimental composer Cornelius Cardew’s notoriously difficult creation Treatise. Not quite a musical composition, not quite a work of design, the score for Treatise offers the performer almost infinite freedom to bring their own imaginative expression to the work. Jaka Berger’s excellent percussive performances suit Treatise well, highlighting its moody, philosophical aspects. A challenging listen, but also starkly beautiful. / Dave Aftandilian, Bandcamp


“Cornelius Cardew’s visual composition Treatise keeps inspiring musicians. Over the years, I reviewed various releases that were an interpretation. Cardew wrote this piece between 1963 and 1967, consisting mainly of geometric and abstract shapes, 67 of which are not instructions on how to play these. Jaka Berger, a percussion player from Slovenia, has been performing Treatise since 2009, and it’s interesting in that respect that it is usually played as an ensemble piece and not solo. Berger plays drums, objects and percussion. There are eleven pieces on this CD, some containing a few pages, of which one is 168, 169, 171, 173, so why not 170? Some pieces are one page only. If you never saw this composition, then Google it, as it’s easy to find and have the pages next to the music. You’ll quickly notice very little sense between score and execution. The score is a catalyst to play music; each interpretation is valid. I’m sure it makes a difference for some people to call this Treatise and not a selection of improvisations by Jaka Berger. Berger applies several approaches in his music. One approach is sustaining, playing bows upon cymbals and objects upon skins, while another method is more rhythmical, in which he taps more or less steady rhythmic motifs. I enjoyed both ends and think it’s funny to hear these rhythm pieces, as that would seem das verboten in improvised music (maybe I am wrong). Coupled with the fact that none of these pieces is overtly long and with the variation on offer, this is also a most enjoyable release.” / Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, 28 March 2023


“Eleven tracks, dealing with from one to five pages of Cardew’s Treatise, solo percussion, very much stripped down to just a drum approached with sticks, brushes or bows. Whatever the reading of the scores (always an idiosyncratic operation), this is a fine, very pure drum recording, great imagination operating within substantial restrictions.” / Brian Olewnick, Facebook, 31 March 2023


“La libertà in musica è da tutti convenzionalmente associata alla figura di John Cage, lo spartiacque del Novecento che ha aperto la creazione sonora al caso, al silenzio e ai più eterodossi approcci performativi. Ciò che a molti sembra sfuggire è che tale libertà estrema riguarda quasi esclusivamente la scaturigine, ovvero il compositore stesso, mentre agli interpreti coinvolti è richiesta una fedeltà rigorosa ai principi stabiliti da Cage, alla sua peculiare – e pur sempre individuale – visione.

Ci è voluta l’audacia, ma soprattutto la generosità intellettuale, di un autentico outsider come Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) per ‘canonizzare’ l’espediente della partitura grafica, offrendo di fatto lo spunto per un’infinita gamma di scelte espressive, l’input per una lettura autonoma e autoriferita entro cui l’ideatore originario non ha più alcuna voce in capitolo.

Ecco cosa significa realmente ‘uscire dal quadro’, rinunciare alla paternità dell’artefatto musicale in favore della Musica stessa: un linguaggio che nasce senza sintassi o grammatiche, condizione atavica alla quale, una volta dato fondo a ogni sorta di stilema consolidato, essa aspira sempre più fortemente a ritornare. In tal senso Treatise (1963/68) è stato ed è ancora oggi un viatico essenziale, un capitolo di culto e un memorandum per ogni musicista sperimentale che rifiuti stoicamente i compromessi e ricerchi, attraverso la pratica artistica, null’altro che la propria essenza.

Numerose le sensibilità che nel tempo si sono confrontate con la pietra miliare di Cardew, dagli ensemble AMM (del quale fu fondatore), Formanex e Gerauschhersteller ai solisti Oren Ambarchi, Noël Akchoté, elizabeth Veldon, Francesco Fusaro e, davvero non ultimo, il biografo e discepolo John Tilbury (The Tiger’s Mind, 2019). A questa ricca tradizione si era già aggiunto nel 2015 il percussionista sloveno Jaka Berger con l’album Breakfast With Cardew (autoprodotto sotto lo pseudonimo Brgs), e che oggi torna con maggior consapevolezza sui suoi passi ospitato da FriForma, succursale della connazionale etichetta Inexhaustible Editions di László Juhász.

Presentate prevalentemente alla rinfusa negli undici take dell’album, le ventidue pagine estratte da Treatise divengono, per Berger come per l’ascoltatore, un’occasione per passare in rassegna le conquiste fatte nell’ambito delle tecniche estese in rapporto agli strumenti a percussione: non più soltanto elementi ritmici, bensì insiemi di superfici e componenti materiche entro le quali si celano dense tonalità e timbri multisfaccettati; un microcosmo di risonanze svelato per mezzo di archetti e oggetti estranei ricontestualizzati al fine di trasfigurare, anche solo in un dettaglio minimo, il volto noto del drumkit.

La performance assume così i tratti di un’indagine fenomenologica a tutto campo che pure non manca di rimarcare il battito in quanto matrice primigenia del gesto musicale: tra le varie incursioni dai vorticosi ritmi spezzati – il lato più palese di un virtuosismo che è da intendersi anche ‘verticalmente’ –, Berger si affida volentieri alla fisicità non mediata delle mani a contatto diretto con le pelli e i piatti, e in nessun caso dà per scontata l’adozione di bacchette, mazze e altre appendici, affinché ogni sequenza rappresenti una singolarità acustica sfuggente, non del tutto identificabile in sede di puro ascolto.

Da ultimo la scelta più radicale: con un laconico spazio bianco a sovrastare le righe del pentagramma, la pagina 141 si ricollega al 4’33” cageano ma ne estremizza ulteriormente l’assunto, poiché affrancata persino dai concetti di ‘movimento’ e di ‘tempo’ (ancorché in senso strettamente cronologico e non musicale). Berger la traduce semplicemente in un’inazione dalla quale emergono voci, passi e rumori ambientali in lontananza, e che tuttavia sarebbe potuta durare la metà o dieci volte tanto rispetto ai cinque minuti e mezzo di questa iterazione. Anche il bianco, d’altronde, è certamente passibile di letture differenti, in quanto sintesi additiva di tutti i colori e negazione formale dietro cui può risiedere la quiete come il caos più assoluto; insomma una pagina che, più d’ogni altra, risulta tutta da scrivere.

Alla luce del completo arbitrio offerto dalla partitura grafica – priva com’è di notazione classica, sostanzialmente ‘disegnata’ –, ogni esecuzione della stessa non andrebbe forse considerata come una pura e semplice improvvisazione? In ultima analisi sì, ed è questo, forse, il più grande testamento lasciato dal pioniere Cardew ai posteri: l’altruismo nell’offrire un’ispirazione, una scintilla d’ingegno creativo a chiunque ne abbia bisogno, senza poi rivendicare la proprietà della fiamma che da essa spontaneamente si sprigiona. Ma il fatto stesso che una singola opera possa contenere in potenza tutte le interpretazioni immaginabili (compresa l’ottima, fantasiosa prova di Jaka Berger), elidendo con ciò i concetti di giusto o sbagliato, è di per sé bastante ad annoverare Treatise tra i più importanti contributi all’evoluzione della musica contemporanea.” / Michele Palozzo, Percorsi Musicali, 9 September 2023


“La célébrissime et très longue composition avec partition graphique pour improvisateurs de Cornelius Cardew, compositeur d’avant-garde des années 60 et membre pour quelques années du légendaire groupe AMM avec Keith Rowe, Lou Gare et Eddie Prévost, est interprétée – jouée par le percussionniste Slovène Jaka Berger. Je vous passe les commentaires politiques sur l’engagement «marxiste – léniniste» (d’inspiration mao-stalinienne) et sa musique « réaliste socialiste » de Cornelius Cardew une fois “converti. Treatise, écrite entre 1963 et 1967, a été joué et enregistré par AMM, Guilherme Gregorio, Petr Kotik et le S.E.M Ensemble. En voici une version «écourtée» en solo de percussions par un percussionniste à suivre: Jaka Berger dont j’ai chroniqué plusieurs enregistrements dont Shoe And Shoelace en duo avec le saxophoniste Jure Boršič avec une pochette délirante et une musique étonnante. Jaka Berger a enregistré des extraits de la partition graphique figurant sur une ou plusieurs pages: 1/ 192, 193; 2/ 100, 155; 3/ 135; 4/ 168, 169, 171, 173; 5/ 148; 6/ 15; etc… du 19 au 22 novembre 2022. J’insiste pour que l’on comprenne que l’interprétation des instructions dessinées par Cornelius Cardew est une affaire subjective à chaque individu. Il y a des choses intéressantes qui sont ici jouées comme le ferait un percussionniste de formation classique et ou jazz et d’autres qui font appel à des techniques proches de celles d’Eddie Prévost, l’un des dédicataires de Treatise (9/ 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 et 10/ 183). Il est aussi permis au musicien de changer éventuellement d’orientation dans sa manière d’aborder cette partition graphique. On l’entend dans le 7/ 85, 101, 116 et 8/ 178, où la polyrythmie free est au menu (les paramètres issus de la pratique de Milford Graves et Han Bennink). Jaka Berger est un excellent percussionniste et ses sélections au sein de Treatise , l’œuvre phare de Cardew, et leur «interprétation» lui offrent une magnifique occasion de faire entendre les facettes de son travail. Il y a quelques perles dans cet album d’un magnifique niveau musical. Remarquable.” / Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Orynx-improv’andsounds, 3 October 2023





· Notranje Gorice at Radio Študent, Ljubljana, 1 December 2022
· Arsov Art Atelje at ARS – 3. Program Radia Slovenija, Ljubljana, 14 December 2022
· Tolpa Bumov at Radio Študent, Ljubljana, 25 December 2022
· The Sound Projector Radio Show at Resonance FM, London, 1 December 2023