Scratch Music

From Goldsmiths Press / Sonics Series

Scratch Music

Edited by Cornelius Cardew

Preface by Sharon Gal and John Harries

A classic text by a composer who believed that music is meant to be perceived by the eye as much as the ear.

Distributed for Goldsmiths Press




A classic text by a composer who believed that music is meant to be perceived by the eye as much as the ear.

Cornelius Cardew cofounded the Scratch Orchestra in 1969 with Howard Skempton and Michael Parsons. The orchestra was a culmination of the ideals expressed in Cardew's own innovative and experimental music through the 1960s. Scratch Music is a collection of the repertory the Scratch Orchestra created. Brought back into print with a new preface by John Harries and Sharon Gal, this reissued edition of a classic work makes a key title in sound studies available to new audiences.

Scratch Music is as much graphic and visual as it is musical and descriptive. After all, scratch music itself is meant to be perceived by the eye and all the senses—not just by ear—so the notation used in preparing the scores for performance might be be graphic, collage, verbal, or musical. The scores in Scratch Music are composed of written words, photographs, maps, graphs, diagrams, musical flow charts, conventional musical notation, whimsical drawings, playing cards, crossword puzzles, and other devices. Contemporary musicians, artists, and critics have long recognized both Cardew's music and this text as influential and significant. Scratch Music demonstrates the extraordinary richness of this particular compositional matrix, and gives the reader a sense of the excitement and creative vibrancy of a scratch music event.


$30.00 T | £25.00 ISBN: 9781912685493 144 pp. | 7 in x 8 in 100 b&w illus.


Cornelius Cardew

Cornelius Cardew (1936–1981) was an important and influential figure in British new music whose innovative and challenging scores emphasize graphic and verbal instructions. His works include Treatise, which consists of 193 pages of beautiful graphic notation; The Great Learning, dedicated to the Scratch Orchestra; and We Sing for the Future.


Sharon Gal and John Harries.