Mandala Music

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Title: Mandala Music
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Stovall, Sara
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Experimental Music
Graphical Notation
Performance Theory
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Mandala Music is a series of eight graphically-notated scores. Seven scores are thematically grounded in elements of traditional music notation; the last is intended to be purely abstract. The scores� circular forms reflect both compositional and performative processes that draw on the sacred and secular art form of the mandala. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions, mandalas were used as visual guides for meditation rituals. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung brought the mandala into Western consciousness through his research with mandala-drawing as a tool for expressing, exploring, and potentially healing the human psyche.Performers from any background are invited to explore the scores of Mandala Music with any instrument or performance medium they choose. The composition does not include explicit instructions for performance, instead leaving it to the performer to determine what it means to "play" the image. One set of verbal directions guides �PhaseI� of the composition, which is the individual interpretation process. A second set of directions guides �Phase II,� a process by which groups of performers expand solo readings of a mandala-score through improvisatory performance. Mandala Music taps into a rich�albeit fairly new�practice of using unconventional notation to create indeterminate musical scores, which are meant for socially-conscious performances. Works such as December 1952 by Earle Brown, Treatise by Cornelius Cardew, and Sonic Meditations by Pauline Oliveros all inform this project. The composition focuses on the development of personally meaningful performances, the nature of individual artistry, and performance as a venue for social discourse.
Statement of Responsibility: by Sara Stovall
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Miles, Stephen

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 S89
System ID: NCFE004459:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Mandala Music
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Stovall, Sara
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Experimental Music
Graphical Notation
Performance Theory
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Mandala Music is a series of eight graphically-notated scores. Seven scores are thematically grounded in elements of traditional music notation; the last is intended to be purely abstract. The scores� circular forms reflect both compositional and performative processes that draw on the sacred and secular art form of the mandala. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions, mandalas were used as visual guides for meditation rituals. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung brought the mandala into Western consciousness through his research with mandala-drawing as a tool for expressing, exploring, and potentially healing the human psyche.Performers from any background are invited to explore the scores of Mandala Music with any instrument or performance medium they choose. The composition does not include explicit instructions for performance, instead leaving it to the performer to determine what it means to "play" the image. One set of verbal directions guides �PhaseI� of the composition, which is the individual interpretation process. A second set of directions guides �Phase II,� a process by which groups of performers expand solo readings of a mandala-score through improvisatory performance. Mandala Music taps into a rich�albeit fairly new�practice of using unconventional notation to create indeterminate musical scores, which are meant for socially-conscious performances. Works such as December 1952 by Earle Brown, Treatise by Cornelius Cardew, and Sonic Meditations by Pauline Oliveros all inform this project. The composition focuses on the development of personally meaningful performances, the nature of individual artistry, and performance as a venue for social discourse.
Statement of Responsibility: by Sara Stovall
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Miles, Stephen

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 S89
System ID: NCFE004459:00001

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MANDALA MUSIC By Sara Stovall A Senior Project Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Stephen Miles Sarasota, Flor ida May 2011


ii I would like to acknow ledge and deeply thank those who made this senior project a success. Thanks to Professor Steve Miles for his unflagging support and encouragement, his buoyant enthusiasm, his generosity of spirit, and his constant remind ers to do the things that make me happy and whole. Thanks to Professors Maria Vesperi and Bret Aarden for their insight and critical commentary as members of my baccalaureate committee as well as key players in my course of study at New College Thanks to all the members of every band, of every genre, with whom I have ever enjoyed the privilege of performing Thanks to my parents for supporting my non traditional education both at and away from New College, including my dropping out of school to run awa y with aforementioned bands. Thanks to all of my peers who bravely donated their time, talent, and ingenuity to the pilot tests of these performance scores. Thanks to Ari Streisfeld, Christopher Otto, John Pickford Richards, and Kevin McFarland of the JACK Quartet for donating their invaluable time and serious commitment to the workshop of this composition. Thanks to Ryan ONeill and Rache l Gamburd for their videographic assistance Thanks to John Ewing for his illustration assistance and calm assuran ce that everything will, in fact, be okay. Thanks to Tim Moone for his assistance in graphic design, and also for his unwavering love that sees me through all things, including this project. My favorite music is the music I havent yet heard. I dont hear the music I write; I write in order to hear the music I have yet heard. --John Cage


iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowle dgements ... .... ii List of Illustrations and Examples ... iv Abstract .. v Chapter 1: Introduction .. 1 Chapter 2: Mandala Music in His torical and Theoretical Context ............ .... 10 Chapter 3: Methods and Process .. 58 Chapte r 4: Conclusio n .. 75 Appendix A Mandala scores ..... 78 Appendi x B Directions .. 87 Appendix C Participant Questionnaires .. .. 90 Appendix D Workshop Footage (DVD) 93 Works Cited ... 94


iv LIST OF FIGURES Fig. 1: The Kalachakra Mandala .. 14 Fig. 2: Systema mundiotiu s ... .. 19 Fig. 3: AOK floor plan .... 42 Fig. 4: Crow Two floor plan 42 Fig. 5: Pauline Oliveros model of attention an d awareness ..... .. 42 LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES Ex. 1: Earle Brown, December 1952 ... 27 Ex. 2: Cornelius Cardew, Tre atise ... 35 Ex. 3: Mandala forms in Pauline Oliveros Primordial / Lift .. 46 Ex. 4: Primordial mandala and Lift mandala in Pauline Oliveros Primordial / Lift .. 47


v MANDALA MUSIC Sara Stovall New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT Mandala Music is a series of eight graphically notated scores. Seven scores are thematically grounded in elements of traditional music notation; the last is intended to be purely abstract. The scores circular forms reflect both compositional and performative processes that draw on the sacred and secular art form of the mandala. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions, mandalas were used as visual guides for meditation ritual s. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung brought the mandala into Western consciousness through his research with mandala drawing as a tool for expressing, exploring, and potentially healing the human psyche. Performers from any background are invited to explore the scores of Mandala Music with any instrument or performance medium they choose. The composition does not include explicit instructions for performance, instead leaving it to the performer to determine what it means to "play" the image. On e set of verbal directions guides Phase I of the composition, which is the individual interpretation process. A second set of directions guides Phase II, a process by which groups of performers expand solo readings of a mandala score through improvi satory performance. Mandala Music taps into a rich albeit fairly new practice of using unconventional notation to create indeterminate musical scores, which are meant for


vi socially conscious performances. Works such as December 1952 by Earle Brown, Trea tise by Cornelius Cardew, and Sonic Meditations by Pauline Oliveros all inform this project. The composition focuses on the development of personally meaningful performances, the nature of individual artistry, and performance as a venue for social disc ourse. Stephen Miles, Advisor Division of Humanities


1 Chapter 1: Introduction The purpose of my composition Mandala Music is to invite performers, as soloists and in small groups, to work with indeterminate musical scores and with one another. The score s provide a visual stimulus for the creation of sound art that, at different points throughout the performance process, is personal, collaborative, and spontaneous. It draws much inspiration from the ethos of composers Earle Brown (1926 2002) and Cornelius Cardew (1936 1981) in their composition of and writings about graphic scores. Pauline Oliveros use of mandalas as compositional tools and her concept of deep listening in performance contribute to Mandala Music as well. The piece is also informed by ide as proposed by William Brooks regarding communicative virtuosity, which examines the act of code stipulation and re stipulation within all types of communicative processes. It is my goal to invite performers to stipulate codes or, to put it differe ntly, systems or methods for performance in two different ways: 1) In creating novel and unique codes for the execution of scores that are only abstractly based on traditional musical notation, and do not include explicit instructions determining how the sco re should be played. This demands a greater degree of collaboration and personal involvement (Eco xi) with the score on the part of the performer, and establishes performers intimacy with and authority over the score that traditionally notated typically does not allow. 2) In re stipulating their own performance codes during performances with other collocutors who have developed alternative codes for the performance of the same score; re stipulations are inspired or necessitated by the codes they


2 perceive their fellow collocutors using in performance, as a group of performers attempts to create a collaborative performance of one score out of a collection of individual interpretations. I am interested in creating a performance environment that compels perf ormers to deduce and attempt to perform in accordance with the codes stipulated by audience members. In this case, the audience members in question have a special factor added to their relationship to the performer: they are also the other artists with who m they are expected to cooperate in performance. I hope to recreate the feedback loop commonly experienced in live music settings due to the highly permeable nature of the barrier between living performer and live audience, as well as the highly charged, u nstable connection commonly experienced between the two. The combination of these elements typically results in very open, forward, and energized communication between the collocutors or collocutor groups a potentially rewarding experience for both parties involved! In November of 2008, the fall of my third semester at New College, I accepted what seemed at the time to be a crazy offer. I decided to leave New College and tour the eastern half of the United States with a rock band. I was the only female in t he group and, as a violinist, played an instrument that didn' t always slip neatly into the scene. At some venues it seemed I was too strange for the audience to process my presence, and I felt as if the audience didnt interact with me in the same way they interacted with my male bandmates. I got the impression that I made some fans uncomfortable; perhaps my fragile, sensitive instrument and my female status suggested that the band was losing its hard rock edge. Whatever the reason, on some nights of that f irst tour I would get onstage


3 and feel invisible, or worse, objectified. There are plenty of problems with this position that I don' t have room to go into here; what matters here is that, on their own, objects are incapable of communicating with subjects o n the objects terms. Toward the end of the chapter following this one, I explain and support this statement in more detail. At some shows, however, the audience was able to accept me on equal terms with the other musicians in the band. In these performanc es I became an object simultaneously recognized as a subject. Communication was possible between the crowd and myself. Even though I was trying to get through to groups of people whose codes of communication in the rock concert situation are quite removed from mine as a classically trained violin player, with enough collaborative re stipulation and re working of our codes, the audience and I were really able to say something to each other. Naturally, when I got back from tour I wanted to have that experien ce again. There exists another, equally selfish motivation for the development of my project. I have come to realize that, in the years I spent at New College prior to developing this project, a great deal of the time the musician in me felt torn in two di fferent directions. I am trained and comfortable in the objective side of musicianship: learning to read music notation, developing technique, building repertoire all of the tools with which I am expected to equip myself in order to identify as a music student growing toward professional musician status. I came to New College fully expecting to continue in the same musical vein; however, the resources for artistic activity at this school are precious but few. At this point I' m quite thankful for New C olleges dearth of a performance program because it forced me to push my own limits of musicianship. Starved for performance opportunities, I started forming bands and experimenting with improvisation. It was, and


4 still can be, incredibly difficult for me to produce satisfying music without a score in front of me, but in those first few instances in which something clicked (anyone who' s had a good jam session or a deep conversation knows this feeling) I realized that improvisation constituted a pure form of musical communication. In exploring this new musical activity, I felt Id discovered a way of making music that was closely related to the activity of being purely alive. The way I think about performance has since undergone significant change; music ma king as a form of social discourse has become a priority in my academic studies and provides a huge impetus for this, my first serious compositional endeavor. As I continued to play in bands and explore this other part of my musical self, however, I felt like I was in danger of losing touch with the other half. I have since taken part in musical endeavors that draw on my strengths in both areas, such as performing in the New Music New College concert series and composing string arrangements for my bands an d others. However, it usually feels like I jump back and forth between worlds in order to be a fully actualized musician. In this project, I hope to create an environment in which the subjective, process oriented and objective, goal oriented sides of a mus ical self can coexist, collaborate, and perhaps even move toward integration. Mandala Music began as a term project for the course Music, Language, Voice: Contemporary Issues and Problems, taught by my thesis sponsor, Professor Steve Miles. I enrolled in the class in the fall of 2009, the semester after I returned from my leave of absence. My initial plan for the project exceeded the scope of a semester term project, but I was able to scale it back, producing two prototypical mandala scores that classmate Dave Baker and I performed for the class.


5 The initial format of the piece actually involved layering mandala scores on top of one another to create a score from both performers read simultaneously. Due to the wildly complex and unfamiliar image that res ulted from the superimposition of the two scores, our performance was largely improvisatory and strange. Not only was it very strange, it was also very transient. Once the performance was over, it was difficult for Dave and me to figure out what made it s o strange and if strangeness was a good thing or if we needed to practice to eliminate it. I do know that the improvisation gave us a chance to share something, and we both agreed that we walked away with at the very least a mutual experience. At the tim e, I felt that the piece worked in a sense, but not in the way I had anticipated: I had predicted that our separate systems of rules would help us feel more confident in reading an unfamiliar score together, but they turned out to be less effective than I thought. I knew the piece could go further. At the end of the semester, the prototype became my first thesis prospectus. Im incredibly pleased with how far the project has come in one year. The character of Mandala Music demands that the performer trust his or her creative instincts. Each performer has to make many choices within the score interpretation/rehearsal process. In group executions, the performers must also be comfortable with improvisation, for they will all make choices within the performanc e process itself. Mandala Music needs artists who play well with others and who like to have serious fun. Any instrument or performance medium may be used. The object of the mandala contains a great deal of significance across multiple cultures. Here, I in tend it to signify a guide or point of focus for meditation. From my research on the mandala in both ancient/sacred and contemporary/secular context, I have


6 found that the mandala serves as an excellent musical score. My scores carry an underlying intent n ot so much to place the essence of myself as a composer down on the printed page, but rather to draw out the essences of other artists in their interpretations and performances of my scores. The structure of the composition is as follows: eight movements in the form of mandalas comprise the work. Seven contain graphical references to elements of musical notation; one does not: I. Stave Off Refers to the musical staff and barlines. II. Cleave Refers to the various musical clefs. III. Keep Time Refers to markings of meter. IV. Note Well Refers to note heads, stems, beams, and rests. V. Have An Accident Refers to sharp, flat, and natural signs. VI. Be Dynamic Refers to dynamic markings, both lettered and symbolic. VII. Articulate Refers to articulatory or expressive markings, such as staccato, tenuto, martel, etc. VIII. Picture This Purely graphical, this movement makes no reference to musical notation. Each mandala was first drafted in a relaxed, freeform manner as a product of meditation. They were t hen revised in order to foreground elements that invited interpretation or inspire creative production. In consideration of the challenges that such a highly indeterminate score poses to a reader, I also wanted to simplify the notation that appeared and at tempted to edit out confusing or contradictory information. Each revised score has


7 been transferred to a transparency. This allows for the projection of the mandalas so that a larger audience may visualize the material with which the performers are working In rehearsal, a performer chooses a mandala and develops his or her method of delivering a performance thereof. He or she rehearses it alone until a level of comfort and security with the mandala and the score code is achieved. Each rendition of the mand ala score need not be identical, but the artist should have a firm grasp on the techniques by which they interpret and perform it. The solo interpretation is integral to a group performance, as it forms the basis of the individual artists work within a gr oup. If a group of performers wishes to play a mandala score as an ensemble, they must collaborate in at least one work shopping session. After all performers have independently worked through the mandala score and are satisfied with their individual rendi tions, the performers reconvene. The soloists engage in a non verbal process by which they become familiarized with the performance methods that each artist devised. The group then agrees on a few key performance methods that will inform everyones executi on of the score, allowing their comprehension of their collocutors play codes to inform this re stipulation. Here, improvisation enters the performance field. The performers are encouraged to improvise if they encounter anything unfamiliar or unexpected w ithin the group performance for instance, if their individual play code and the groups play code clash. They are also invited to extend the group performance to allow individuals to play through the mandala score more than once, spontaneously taking new approaches to the score while remaining engaged with the other members of the ensemble.


8 The workshop itself culminates in one kind of performance, but a soloist or an ensemble may choose to display their work to a public audience. This may include any conf iguration of solo and ensemble performances of any number of mandala scores. Each score presented in a concert should be projected onto a screen or wall so that the audience will have a visual map to inform their experience of the performances. This will a lso allow the audience to participate, if they so desire, in the deduction of each performers score codes and play codes, as well as attempt to follow the re stipulation process. As described above, all but one of the scores comprising Mandala Music are b ased on separate elements of music notation. I purposefully designed this to invite performers to use traditional notations signifying power as a launching pad for their interpretation of the score. Cardew writes a caveat to this approach, which can be re ad as a caveat to the approach of graphical notation across the board: The danger in this kind of work is that many readers of the score will simply relate the musical memories they have already acquired to the notation in front of them, and the result w ill be merely a goulash made up of the various musical backgrounds of the people involved. For such players there will be no intelligible incentive to invent music or extend themselves beyond the limitations of their education and experience. (129 30) For one, I personally have no problem with a goulash of musical backgrounds. I think this can still make for exciting sonic art. Secondly, I hope that the project is structured in such a way that it necessitates performers to stretch beyond their own limita tions because they must cooperate with other human beings in improvised performance.


9 Cardew also writes, The great merit of a traditional music notation, like the traditional speech notation i.e. writing, is that it enables people to say things that are b eyond their own understanding. A 12 year old can read Kant aloud; a gifted child can play late Beethoven (129). But in the interpretation of a mandala as music, a performer ensures that he absolutely understands what he is saying; in fact, no one gets it better than he does. The improvisational side of the performance that occurs when two artists bring their code systems together, and perhaps discover ways of knitting their performance methods into a collective method, ensures that these unique systems of meaning do not become too internalized or isolated. Understanding happens best when we improvise in everyday life, re stipulating our own signifying systems and trying to incorporate others' systems of understanding into them. It is learning by doing, by e xperimenting, and ultimately, by playing. In my opinion, music is hardly any good if we don' t play it for each other (See the concluding chapter for a discussion regarding Mandala Musics potential for a larger, non performing audience.) Music is essentia lly communicative and discursive in all its forms: on manuscript paper, on a recording, or live and vibrating in the air. Mandala Music is my attempt to activate the communicative potential in not just music, but in all types of performance.


10 Chapter 2: Ma ndala Music in Historical and Theoretical Contex t The roots of Mandala Music cover wide theoretical and historical grounds. While the traditional art form of the mandala is ancient, the practice of graphic notation in music composition is a positively m odern phenomenon. In this chapter I discuss my compositions multifaceted background: I will describe the mandala as an art form in both sacred and secular contexts; I will identify predecessors whose pioneering work in experimental music and graphic notat ion greatly influenced my own; and I will define the practice of improvisation as it functions in Mandala Music a virtuosic form of interpersonal communication. The Sacred Mandala The art form that has informed much of my thinking about Mandala Music i s particularly fascinating due to its lengthy history across multiple cultures. Martin Brauen cites the oldest Buddhist mandalas, which date back to the 5 t h century (Brauen 2009: 15). In his comprehensive text on the Hindu yantra Madhu Khanna states the use of abstract mystic symbols has been discovered in Harappan (c. 3000 BC) and Vedic (c. 2000 BC) artifacts, long before the advent of tantrism (AD 700 1200) in which the use of visual meditation guides such as yantras and mandalas blossomed (Khanna 10, Brauen 2009: 15, 26). In a collection of essays surrounding Tibetan Buddhist mandalas, Michel Zehnacker also discusses a Christian variation found in the labyrinths of French and Italian cathedrals (77). Etymologically speaking, the terms mantra and yantra derive from Sanskrit. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung states that the word mandala literally translates to circle (1973: 3), while contemporary composer Pauline Oliveros expands the


11 definition to denote diagram or plan (222). Khanna sup ports Jungs succinct definition, but provides a more thorough definition of yantra that speaks to the art forms connection to Mandala Music : The Sanskrit word yantra derives from the root yam meaning to sustain, hold or support the energy inherent in a particular element, object or concept. In its first meaning, yantra may refer to any kind of mechanical contrivance which is harnessed to aid an enterprise. A yantra in this sense, therefore, is any sort of machine or instrument such as is used in a rchitecture, astronomy, alchemy, chemistry, warfare or recreation. The meaning of the term yantra has been expanded to refer to religious enterprises, and has acquired a special theological significance. Mystic yantras are aids to and the chief instrumen ts of meditative discipline. Basically a yantra used in this context and for this purpose is an abstract geometrical design intended as a tool for meditation and increased awareness. (11) In his study of religious mandalas, Jung evidently conflated manda la and yantra as being the same kind of object (1973: 72). On the other hand, Brauen differentiates yantra from mandala: while he concedes that their structure and function are difficult to distinguish from one another, Yantras are devices used to bring a bout a desired effect or result. Love charms and the acquisition of wealth are two of its most popular uses; protection for oneself and family and cursing and wishing malevolence on others are also popular (2009: 34, 148). However, Khannas text on yan tra only devotes one chapter to yantras of this kind, which he defines as occult or magic yantras and are distinct from the


12 sacred yantras to which the majority of his book is devoted: The occult yantra is distinguished from all other kinds of power d iagram by its practical application and utilitarian ends. The primary purpose is to gain control over the forces of nature, for positive or negative ends, but mainly for the attainment of worldly rather than spiritual goals (153). Khanna maintains that the role of [occult] yantras is peripheral in comparison with that of yantras for meditation, and that Buddhist mandalas convey the same ideas, serve the same religious purposes, and have made a distinctive contribution to the yantra as a living form ( 22 23). For my own purposes I am primarily interested in visual aids to meditation. As they relate to my composition, I also treat the basic function of sacred power diagrams across Buddhist and Hindu cultures as one and the same; therefore the difference in terms doesnt create a conceptual stumbling block. Yantras function as revelatory symbols of cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience, Khanna writes (12). The symbology within the mandala is both a visual r epresentation and vessel of cosmic energy, or the power wielded by the deities who reside within and are embodied by mandalas. Hindu yantras typically use complex symbols and line diagrams rather than pictorial representations of deities; these abstr act symbols become a geometrical equation retaining the vitality and life force of the yantras deity. Buddhist mandalas often take on the structure of multi tiered temples or palaces that house the deities, a well known example being the Kalachakra mand ala, or the Wheel of Time (see fig. 1). A disciple encounters 722 deities as he navigates its five floors in meditation, at the end uniting with Kalachakra, the deity in the center. The disciple can then slough off his original mortal shell and become an empty, immutable form, a pure essence, a Buddha himself


13 (Crossman and Barou 26). Mandala and yantra craftsmen undergo extensive training in the religious art form and learn to fashion them under strict guidelines, as its important for every line, sha pe, and symbol to be assembled in the proper configuration for it to hold any sacred power. Khanna writes that there is no room for artistic expression in creating a yantra, for form is never valued for its own sake, but only so far as it serves to provid e experience of religious or metaphysical truth (132). Crossman and Barou, however, state that individual artistry can manifest itself in Buddhist mandalas, namely the Kalachakra mandala, which the fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatzo said is one of the mo st important mandalas for Buddhist initiates (Crossman and Barou 19). The Kalachakra requires a training period of three years before an initiate can be permitted to construct it. The monks who carefully fashion the mandala out of colored powders can give free reign to their artistic imagination in the sections that symbolize gardens filled with offerings to the deity. In all other parts, the monks have to follow meticulously the instructions codifying a mandala. But this rule does not prevent some exec utants being preferred above others, and subtle nuances can be seen between mandalas. In spite of the strict rules, art has its place (Crossman and Barou 29 31). The strictness demanded in their construction is rendered more complex by the fact that both yantra and mandala contain multivalent symbols and images that can be arranged in a myriad of different arrangements depending on the spiritual needs or goals of the aspirant meditating upon them (Khanna 7, 22, Rinpoche 27).


14 Figure 1. The Kalachakra Mandala, or Wheel of Time (Crossman and Barou 21). Mandala Music does not claim to be a portal to nirvana. However, as a visual form, each score of the work occupies a position similar to the sacred mandala. In the case of a sacred mandala, its abstract symbols are waiting to be activated by the meditation ritual, in which mantra (the sonic aspect) and yantra (the visual aspect) are used in conjunction to invoke a deity and connect the aspirant with the greater universe of which he is both a n infinitely small fragment and an all encompassing vessel: The mandala is the mirror of the cosmos, not only in its external form. It is also the mirror of another microcosm: man (Brauen 1995: 35). I found it intriguing to discover that a mandala is nev er fully actualized without its mantra, the sonic vibrations that resonate with the energies contained by the mandala. This is true for both Hindu yantra and


15 Buddhist mandala. Khanna writes, The mantras consist of seed syllables and the names of the deiti es, and are untranslatable. They exert their influence by their sound vibrations. They are mean to transmit, like music, their own meaning, are their sounds seep through our senses (102). Crossman and Barous text on the Kalachakra mandala echoes Khanna: These syllables have no literal meaning. They are designed to overturn habitual patterns of thought and lead to truths that words cannot express (31). Khanna even points out how yantra and mantra are the same thing in different physical states: A vibrat ion pattern of the universe results and the yantras static shape is made kinetic when the inscribed mantras are chanted in ritual worship Yantra and mantra are always found in conjunction. Sound is considered as important as form in yantra, if not more important, since form in its essence is sound condensed as matter. (19 21) In the context of Mandala Music meditation is not required to be the spiritual or religious experience as is the case in sacred mandala rituals. Instead, it is intended to foster a state of consciousness that involves both focused concentration and diffused awareness This allows a performer to simply take in the images without the impetus to deliberately assign meaning to them; rather, associations can float freely to the surf ace of a performers consciousness. Khanna writes, The practices of ritual and meditation involve an internalization and externalization of symbols by means of parallel activities (97). My directions for the interpretation of a mandala score call for par allel activities subjective and objective that both internalize and externalize the symbols in each score: internalization brings the mandala score inside a performers subjective consciousness, and externalization objectifies the symbols, pushing them out into the world for others to


16 apprehend how the performer has processed them. The interpretation process is connected to the mandala meditation ritual: To identify wholly with the configuration is to realize or release the inherent forces that each form denotes (Khanna 6). Although I claim my mandala scores have no inherent significance, they have the potential to signify on deeply personal levels through the interpretation process, which, to use Khannas term, I see as an activation of the scor e. I argue that traditionally notated scores demand an approach in which a performer primarily externalizes the material, dealing in mostly objective processes. These scores come with preconceived, specific instructions for performance over which a music ian has a modicum of control, which usually manifests itself in expressive interpretation or individual style. The focus of playing a work in conventional notation rests on the object of the final performance, the ultimate externalization of the work. In M andala Music the musician cant control the visual form as its presented to them any more than he or she might control the notes on the page of a Bach fugue. However, the performers have total control over what the form calls for them to do. The full pro cess for interpreting a mandala score does involve externalizing processes: the rehearsal of their methods would be one, and I also believe that assigning significance to the symbols through critical analysis is also a kind of externalization of the symbol s, for this enables a performer to identify and catalogue them in such a way that theyre able to define a method that is intelligible to other performers. In other words, analysis enables a performer to show others how to play a mandala score their way. Although [a yantras] outward meaning may be relatively easy to understand, Khanna writes, the inner meaning that gives it efficacy is difficult to grasp because its


17 archetypal forms are basically concerned with the inner facts of psychic experience, gained through intuitive vision (12). The form of the mandala score is also fairly clear and simple, especially in comparison to the typical yantra or mandala. However, its significance is not. Im certain it is possible to figure out a mandala score so lely through comprehensive analysis, but I think more personal results will come when analysis is coupled with meditation. Anyone can identify that a mandala score contains a specific number and type of symbols people with musical experience might even ide ntify these as referring to musical symbols. But they all have to dig deeper to determine how they actually signify for them to perform. This is why I believe that the meditative approach is essential to connecting with the score, and thus why the sacred m andala enriches my composition. By encouraging the performers of Mandala Music to approach the score with meditation, I hope to help them overturn habitual patterns of thought and construct performances that are informed by their intuitive impulses as mu ch as, if not more than they are commanded by their cerebral faculties. This, I believe, has the potential to make the performance more personally significant and therefore more gratifying for the artist. The Secular Mandala Sacred mandala meditation is a quest to achieve total experience of the One (Khanna 9), the ultimate goal of essencelessness, or emptiness, or abandonment of self (Brauen 2009: 31). This definitely runs counter to the goals of Mandala Music a piece which is largely intended to facilitate performers exploration and understanding of their individual artistic selves characterized by personal tastes, preferences, analytical techniques, and subjective associations as theyre applied to the interpretation of the


18 mandala sco re much as contemporary secular mandalas facilitate an individuals psychological exploration and self expression. Brauen writes, Jung showed himself to be very open minded toward eastern teachings of wisdom, and we have at least to thank him for the fac t that the word mandala is not entirely unknown in the West (2009: 225). Jung began drawing mandalas himself in 1916 (see fig. 2), the beginning of a psychologically troubled period that followed his rupture with fellow psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. In his memoir, Jung describes waking fantasies or active visual meditations in which he plumbed the depths of his own subconscious, often feeling as though he were coming up empty handed. It is, of course, ironical that I, a psychiatrist, should at almost eve ry step of my experiment have run into the same psychic material which is the stuff of psychosis and is found in the insane. My experience and experiments with the unconscious had brought my intellectual activity to a standstill. I found myself utterly incapable of reading a scientific book. This went on for three years [1916 19]. I felt I could no longer keep up with the world of the intellect, nor would I have been able to talk about what really preoccupied me. The material brought to light from the u nconscious had, almost literally, struck me dumb. I could neither understand it nor give it form. (1963: 181 85)


19 Figure 2. Systema mundiotius Mandala of a Modern Man (Jung 1973, ii). This painting is recognized as Jungs first mandal a (Masquelier 70). Jung writes that he finally began to emerge from the darkness once his understanding of mandalas started to deepen. At this point, he was drawing mandalas every day, which he writes seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the t ime. With the help of these drawings I could observe my psychic transformations from day to day (1963: 186 87). Jung kept his drawings and developing theories about mandalas to himself for another ten years, when his good friend, orientalist scholar Richa rd Wilhelm,


20 sent Jung a manuscript of his translation of The Secret of the Golden Flower a treatise on Taoist meditation, with the request that Jung prepare a psychological commentary that would make his text more accessible to western readers (Masqueli er 72). I devoured the manuscript at once, Jung writes, for the text gave me an undreamed of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the centre (1963: 189). Following this intellectual awakening, Jung delved into studies of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, which exposed him to traditional mandalas (Masquelier 73). He was fascinated by parallels he drew between the traditional forms and the mandalas produced by himself and his patients while in the throes of psychological dis tress. Jungs first public mention of the mandala appeared in the 1929 publication of Wilhelms manuscript, followed by a 1930 seminar in Berlin in which he presented examples of his patients mandalas alongside Chinese, Tibetan and Navajo images (Masquel ier 73). I kept quiet about the results of these methods in order to avoid any suggestion. I wanted to assure myself that these things mandalas especially really are produced spontaneously and were not suggested to the patient by my own fantasy. I was then able to convince myself, through my own studies, that mandalas were drawn, painted, carved in stone, and built, at all times and in all parts of the world, long before my patients discovered them. I have also seen to my satisfaction that mandalas are dreamt and drawn by patients who were being treated by psychotherapists whom I had not trained. (1973: 68 69)


21 For Jung, the mandalas created by his patients mostly appear in connection with chaotic psychic states of disorientation or panic. They have the purpose of reducing the confusion to order, though this is never the conscious intention of the patient. At all events they express order, balance, and wholeness (1973: 76 77). Although the traditional mandalas are rigid in motifs and style in compari son to his patients drawings, Jung saw the connection between them: in the act of drawing a mandala, he and his patients were striving for a sense of wholeness, of which the mandala is an archetype. The mandala, in its crude forms (dreamed, imagined, in vented) or traditional ones (canonical, imposed) simultaneously expresses and accomplishes the mediation between polarities, the cyclical resolution of the imbalance between the extremes, and the recentering of the psychic energy on the Self. (Masquelier 7 3) I myself first discovered mandalas in the summer of 2002. I was participating in a course on holistic medicine as a part of Duke Universitys Talent Identification Program. After first introducing the class to basic meditation techniques, our course le aders held a session in which we all meditatively produced mandalas. We displayed them on the wall and engaged in a brief discussion regarding our experience and our feelings toward the products of our individual meditations. That ended our exposure to man dalas and the class moved on to other parts of the course curriculum; however, Id found the experience fun and rewarding, although I couldnt exactly explain why. Like many of Jungs patients, I found the activity soothing (Jung 1973: 77), and I felt in trigued by the idea that these colorful images revealed a hidden, personal part of myself. When I came


22 home from camp, I kept making mandalas, even showing my younger brother and sister how to make them and posting our creations to my bedroom ceiling. Th is form of mandala creation has become quite popular in the New Age world of self healing practices. Books on creating mandalas, interpretation guides, individual workbooks, and even coloring books have been published to help people express the natural ur ge to live out our potential, to fulfill the pattern of our whole personality (Fincher 2). 1 These guides pick up on Jungs trail and encourage people to use mandalas to track their psychological development over time, even from day to day. They provide ca talogues of the significance of color, numbers, and symbols that appear in individuals mandalas, helping their creators to identify and subsequently work through the psychological forces currently operating within them. My mandala scores more obviously resemble this type of mandala than the traditional form, especially on the compositional end of the project. As a student of music I have always wanted to compose, not so much because I have specific musical ideas that I want to express and have others ree nact, but because I want to create the potential for performances to happen. To have no real desire to specify melody, harmony, instrumentation, or even gesture in ones work makes composing in the conventional sense profoundly difficult. My attitude towar d the feat of composition reminds me of the chaotic psychic states of disorientation or panic that Jung believed were the source of 1 Susanne F. Fincher, whose guide to creating and interpreting mandalas I used to inform the creation of my mandala scores, is a psychotherapist who has produced an entire collection of these kinds of resources, published by Shambhala Publications, Inc.


23 the mandalas created by himself and his patients as they went through a rearranging of the personality a kind of new ce ntring (1973: 76). I need say only a few words about the functional significance of the mandala if we have a little feeling in our fingertips we can guess from these pictures, painted with the greatest devotion but with unskilful hands, what is the deep er meaning that the patients tried to put into them and express through them. They are yantras in the Indian sense, instruments of meditation, concentration, and self immersion, for the purpose of realizing inner experience At the same time they serve to produce an inner order which is why, when they appear in a series, they often follow chaotic, disordered states marked by conflict and anxiety. They express the idea of a safe refuge, of inner reconciliation and wholeness. (1973: 99 100) The secular co ntemporary mandala has proven invaluable to me as a means to compose. Knowing that I wanted to create something playable by other performers, yet feeling that I lacked the training and experience to do so, I turned to a medium that allows for self express ion in the most liberal sense. I have employed the fundamental techniques of creating the psychoanalytic or self exploratory mandala as an avenue for composition, using them as a kind of space within which to freely work on an idea that would give birth to another space a space within which a performer is invited to work. This, I argue, is the basic definition of a composition in the performance art context. My mandala scores work for me much like the mandalas Jung described in the above passage: they m ark a critical period in my development toward becoming a whole musician


24 Along with creating the potential for performances, I also want to potentiate performances that is, to make performances more powerful or effective. Thus, Ive made a piece that both truly expresses myself and allows the performers the freedom to dig deeper into their artistic selves as well. As Ive stated before, I believe this is the key to power and efficacy in performance. I hope that the instinctive, meditative, analyti cal, and practical processes involved in playing a mandala score might help to unlock some unconscious or previously unexamined elements of an individuals artistry. Surely each and every challenging work gives performers the opportunity for self explora tion as it augments their technique and repertoire, but perhaps it does not invite self exploration as explicitly or on such a deeply personal level. Compositional Predecessors By the late 1960s, graphic notation had made its permanent mark on the art o f music although members of the contemporary music scene didnt realize its lasting impact at the time. In 1968 John Evarts of the International Music Council published a somewhat open ended article taking stock of graphic music: its function for compo sers, its ramifications for performers, and what place it might have in the future of new music. Evarts hails the advent of graphic notation as an important new step in musicians forging new forms and new tools of communication, but also points out a n umber of his contemporaries complaints: graphic scores resisted standardization, since each composer working with graphic notation gained the freedom to explore a virtually unlimited field of visual resources. Thus, graphic scores were expensive to publis h, since printers had to start from scratch for each publication. The same went for performers, who found it difficult and time consuming to learn or devise themselves, in the case of indeterminate


25 graphical scores a completely new set of guideline s for performance with each work (405). Ultimately, Evarts predicted that graphic notation would become merely a passing fad in new music composition, or at best, these picturesque squiggles, graphs, and fantasies will be considerably more admired for the ir visual appeal and content than for what they were intended to communicate: the music itself (405 07). Evarts could not forsee the proliferation of graphic scores that extended well into the twenty first century, inspired by the work of the compositiona l pioneers whose innovations he criticized. 2 American composer Earle Brown is credited with inventing several new forms of music notation, including graphic notation. He also coined the term open form. In basic terms, a composition with an open form ca n lead to multiple realizations in performance either premeditated or spontaneous (Dubinets 412). Brown belonged to the famous New York School, a collective of visual artists, composers and musicians who worked in the Manhattan area in the early to mi d twentieth century. Along with Brown, composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, and pianist David Tudor formed the group (Nicholls 17). Brown joined the New York School in 1952 (Nicholls 32), and his graphically notated composition December 19 52 (see ex. 1) became the very first instance of a form which Brown would later name an open form, and is perhaps the earliest musical composition to inscribed using graphic notation (Dubinets 2 Theresa Sauers book Notations 21 (2009, Mark Batty Publisher) is an excellent compilation that showcases the la test generation of graphic scores and their composers. Sauer compiled the edition to expand and commemorate the original Notations a collection of 255 innovative scores edited by John Cage and Alison Knowles and published by Something Else Press in 1969.


26 412). This experiment with a performers freedom to choose virtually everything about how a score is to be executed effectively laid the foundation for purely indeterminate compositions such as Mandala Music. December 1952 is part of a larger body of work titled FOLIO (1952 1953). Brown experiments with his inn ovations in indeterminate forms of notation in all of the compositions comprising FOLIO ; however, none of the other compositions in the FOLIO collection utilize a more abstract notation than this piece. Brown provides the minimum of instruction, suggesting only that the scores vertical and horizontal rectangular shapes may be read as sound and the white spaces may be read as silences otherwise, Brown leaves the execution of the score completely up to the performers discretion. As Dubinets writes of Browns invention: Notation in graphic music has been emancipated, and the score has become an aim in itself, both for its composers and for the recipients; it is now a part of the creative process, which may or may not be translated into sound. Musici ans try to bring together the composer and the performer or recipient in order to give the latter to express himself freely and to improvise, stimulating subjective associations. Time in a graphic score is no longer given a linear treatment. The musical space is also modified. The instruments no longer have definite positions in the score, it no longer has any coordinates and the performer is no longer strictly guided by it, because it has no notes. Although [ December 1952 ] is filled with nontraditional notational signs and symbols, it should be


27 perceived as a regular but three dimensional score, with the resulting shape totally unfixed and different each time. (412) Example 1. Earle Brown, December 1952. Copyright 1961 (renewed) by Assoc iated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI) (Nicholls 33). Instead of explicit instructions for execution, Brown provided some text in the way of an explanatory note or mission statement prefacing the composition, including the following passage quoted by Davi d Nicholls in his essay on the New York School composers: His intention was to have elements exist in space, space [being] an infinitude of directions from an infinitude of points in space to work


28 (compositionally and in performance) to right, left, bac k, forward, up, down, and all points between the score [being] a picture of this space at one instant, which must always be considered as unreal and / or transitory a performer must set this all in motion (time), which is to say, realize that it is in motion and step into it either sit and let it move or move through it at all speeds. (32 33). Of December 1952 Brown himself wrote in 1970, My original motive, in 1951 1952, was to create a newly intense poetic exchange and collaboration within the p erformance (realization) of a work!!! Out of this motivation (the performer aspect of me) came an entire new relationship between the composer and performer (Dubinets 417). Brown was concerned with fostering what he called creative ambiguity in his compositions, which is strongly connected to his work with graphic notation. By giving performers a piece that ambiguously suggested some kind of musical or performance activity, he created room for performers creative input. For Brown, Clemens Gresser writes, this kind of open result allows for the interesting, unforeseeable sonic outcome of the performance of his indeterminate compositions (379). Gresser also makes this important point: The performance of indeterminate works is dependent on an ex traordinary type of performer, who can deal with the potential of co creatorship in a disciplined, yet creative, manner (378). Over the course of his career, Browns compositions sought a finely tuned balance between a composers control and a musicians freedom in performance. Dubinets states that Browns compositional approach was at the staggering intersection between logic and the irrational (416). He was composing in the thick of two major schools of new music:


29 serialism, with its use of mathematica l techniques to manipulate musical elements; and chance music, which used purely random processes to determine the structure and content of a work. Neither school fully served Browns purposes: I am as impatient with chance (the non utilization of choi ce by the artist) as a compositional technique as I am with serialism as a justification. The former producing a pseudo lifelike entropy and the later a pseudo machinelike entropy, as their purest point of self realization of principles. Both tend to eli minate the possibility of involvement and contextual freedom of action which, it seems to me, should exist at every instant and at a high pitch of creative intensity. This contextual freedom is the only freedom which interests me and is the indispensable factor in the equation for any activity and is the most difficult to control. The point of balance between control and non control is the most urgent matter at hand now (Dubinets 416) December 1952 is arguably the score that put Browns name in the bo oks, and its certainly one of, if not the most famous of his compositions. However, after its publication Brown never used graphic notation in the same, to borrow Nicholls term, adventurous way again. Evidently, compositions in graphic notation did no t achieve the balance between control and freedom that Brown desired. In 1972, Brown wrote that December 1952 was one of the most extreme examples of performer determination from minimal scored information from the composer and represent an extreme poin t of improvisation which no longer interests me greatly (Gresser 381). Seventeen years later in his career, he went on to say, You have to understand that there is no great deal


30 of music of mine that gives the performers a great deal of freedom. The ea rly Folio pieces do. But they were extremes (Gresser 382). Why this reversal of Browns attitude toward performers freedom of expression? Gresser explains, The idea of a musical work having an identity relates to another aspect of his aesthe tic: he was interested in communicating with the audience (381). Brown felt that the character of December 1952 as being his own composition was lost in some performances of the work. Judging from his negative reactions to some performances of this grap hic score in which the performers were granted the vast amount of freedom that the score prescribes (Gresser 380), Brown must have held some preconceived notions as to how it should be played or, more directly, who possesses the ability to work with crea tive ambiguity. Gresser quotes a 1989 interview with conductor Richard Dufallo in which Brown said, [its] my idealistic and romantic feeling that everybody is creative. but I now know that a lot of people dont know it, in the sense that they dont ha ve the confidence. [Today] I am more circumscribed, not convinced anymore that so many people can do it well. I think they can, but they frequently lack confidence. (379) Gresser goes so far as to suggest that Brown held preconceived ideas on not only how performers should approach the interpretation of his indeterminate works, but in moving on from December 1952 he also grew more interested in controlling the actual sound of his pieces. Gresser cites evidence that, as his career progressed, Brown increasin gly bestowed the responsibilities inherent within creative ambiguity upon conductors, and furthermore preferred to conduct his works himself including


31 symphony orchestra realizations of December 1952 Gresser again refers to Browns conversation with Dufallo with this statement: What I hope I have done, and what I was consciously trying to do, was to inject a degree of ambiguity and relativity into a score by Earle Brown, which was conducted by you or Bruno [Maderna] or [Pierre] Boulez or me. The im portant thing is that I wanted that personality to come into the life of the score (378). Gresser goes on to argue, He thereby influenced the identities of many of his works by performing his compositions. This was not only done because he had a sonic i deal of the music, but also because he believed that he was a champion of his own music, and was convinced that he was able to perform particularly well those of his works which are indeterminate with regard to their performance That Brown assumed that h e was good at interpreting his open form compositions suggests that he had a sonic and aesthetic idea of the musical end product in his head, somewhat in contrast to his statements elsewhere that he would accept many differing performances of his works (381) Browns departure from graphic notation led him to employ complex mathematical techniques and extensive pre planning in structuring his compositions, by which he deliberately pre considered all aspects of the final realization of the score (Dubin ets 418). These methods evidently helped him strike the critical balance between control and freedom in his works, allowing him to make the primary aesthetic decisions while giving the performer or conductor the liberty to manipulate the results of his


32 cho ices. I think that all of my work has a characteristic SOUND which is MY sound and the result of my personal theory, Brown wrote in 1970, and Dubinets concurs: Browns theory worked. Using the methods of pre planning and of mathematical calculations f or the major music parameters and then allowing the performers to reconfigure the pre composed materials Brown was indeed able to create his own sound full of shimmering beauty, organic cohesiveness and paradoxical flexibility. (425) Although Gresser maintains that a composers ideas about how his work relates to performers and listeners are important, he makes the compelling argument that it is crucial that the examination of issues for the performer is not dominated by the composers thoughts and op inions (392). Gresser believes that if December 1952 were to be performed with Browns extra notational intentions strictly, the piece would lose its status as a seminal work revealing a previously uncharted territory in musical interpretation. Gresse r maintains that the extreme in Browns oeuvre represented by December 1952 has value in spite of the composers dismissal thereof: Brown is more interested in the resulting sounds than in the social processes of the music. If music is seen as a perfor mance art, however, in which there is a different reason for the musicians playing at a venue from the norm of producing sounds, one can see an intrinsic function for such a performance: music as social interaction. (391 92) In relation to myself as a com poser, Brown and I possess a strong common ideology: I am also deeply interested in giving performers the opportunity to exercise their own creativity and imagination in performance. On the same token, I too strive to


33 strike a balance between control and f reedom in the performance of a mandala score. I have alleviated much of that struggle for myself by recognizing that I do not require the realizations of my scores to reflect my sound, for I can genuinely affirm that I created the mandala scores with no preconceived ideal of how they should sound. I find it interesting that Brown should cite the performer aspect of himself as the motivation to create a work like December 1952 I personally dont compose as a composer; I compose as a performer. I again s ee my own goals reflected in Browns ethos when he stated to Dufallo that his aim as a composer was to create situations which then went on to create further situations (Gresser 377). Thats precisely what I wanted to do when developing the mandala sco res; however, instead of seeking to preserve my artistic identity within them, I leave entirely it to the performers to use the mandala score in expressing theirs I agree with Gresser that, Without a conductor, one has to rely on the musician performing in a disciplined and interesting manner (390). Brown seemed to assume that this requires a confidence which the performer of a graphic score must innately possess. I also believe this confidence is essential to the performance of a graphic score; but to assume that a good performer of this kind of work automatically brings this confidence to the table is too exclusionary for my purposes. Thus, Ive taken steps to explicitly encourage my performers to develop this confidence to always trust their crea tive instincts as they work with a mandala score, which I think Browns graphic scores fail to do. As mentioned previously, Brown saw his graphic scores as opportunities for improvisation. The next chapter explains how improvisation has its place in Mand ala Music but not in an individuals interpretation of a mandala score. I require the


34 performer to impose limits and rules upon their interpretations so that the realization does carry an identity again, not mine, but the performers. This is how I beg in to find the balance between control and freedom: by demanding discipline in a performers methods of self expression, while allowing them the complete freedom to determine those methods on their own. Once they have gained a mastery over the mandala scor e, they have the opportunity to further explore freedom of self expression through collective improvisation on a score with other performers. To recall the above passage from Gresser, Mandala Music is not just about the sounds the performers produce. Rathe r, the other half its value lies in the social interactions in which the performers engage while they improvise and play together. Cornelius Cardew took a skeptical stance toward improvisation early on in his career as a composer and performer. However, h is ideas about compositional and interpretational approaches to graphic scores have directly informed my own. Cardew composed Treatise (see ex. 2), a 193 page behemoth in the repertoire of graphical notation, during the period of 1963 1967. Cardew provided a succinct description of his piece in May 1966, in an application to the Arts Council of Great Britain for a grant to fund the completion of the work: Treatise is a graphic score, composed without reference to any system of rules governing to notation (Cardew 115). It is an enormous landmark in the history of graphic notation and experimental music as a whole, not only by virtue of sheer mass, but also by virtue of its implications for the concepts of composers ownership of their work, of performers r esponsibility to the text of a work, and of how a work constitutes a composition in the first place.


35 Example 2. Two pages of Cornelius Cardews Treatise (29, 138). Copyright 1967 by Gallery Upstairs Press. Copyright 1970 assigne d to Hinrichsen Edition, Peters Edition Limited.


36 Cardews writings before the development of Treatise demonstrate he already felt dissatisfaction with the conventional resources for composition. In 1961, he published an enumerated collection of notes, ma de at various stages [throughout spring 1959 until spring 1960] and on a variety of topics under an article titled Notation Interpretation, etc. (Cardew 5). 8 Suppose the player to behave as follows: he reads the notation and makes himself a pictu re of the sound (in his mind the hypothetically imagined sound). He then attempts to reproduce this picture in sound; he compares it with the picture of the sound he had in his mind beforehand, and he may make a few quick changes, reducing the most gla ring discrepancies, releasing wrong notes quickly, reducing the notes he finds too loud, etc., etc. What I am looking for is a notation (way of writing a text) where fidelity to this text is possible (8 9) Cardew clarified his concept of text fidelity in a note written in the first drafts of the score: the sound should be a picture of the score, not vice versa (Cardew 99). Cardew desired a direct feedback system between the text and its meaning and the clearest way to do that would be to create a n otation that did not require to be filtered through additional coding systems imposed by outside parties strictures of conventional notation and the composers own agenda, for example. In Treatise Cardew pushed the limits of notations symbolic meaning a nd eliminated all instructions for performance, thus allowing the performer complete freedom to assign their own meanings to the notation.


37 Despite the lack of explicit symbolic meaning, Cardew at first intended Treatise to be interpreted as such. The titl e of the composition refers to the title of Ludwig Wittgensteins work Tractatus Logico Philosophicus 3 an examination of limits to the structure and meaning of language. Like Wittgensteins search for the limits of language, Virginia Anderson writes, C ardew was looking for a limit to the meaning of notation by using an arbitrary notation of symbols to which an eventual meaning would be assigned in performance (292). The score must govern the music, Cardew stated in his working notes to Treatise It must have authority, and not merely be an arbitrary jumping off point for improvisation, with no internal consistency (Cardew 102). Cardew compiled a rsum of pre publication performances of Treatise in which he alternately conducted ensembles, served a s advisor to the performers, and played in the ensembles himself. throughout its pre publication history, Cardew seems to have preferred a symbolic reading of Treatise to visual or other readings, says Anderson (303). However, in a 1970 BBC re broadca sting of pages 107 126, 4 Cardews preface to the program reflected a newfound interest in improvisation: I now regard Treatise as a transition between my early preoccupation with problems of music notation and my present concerns improvisation and 3 Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico Philosophicus Trans. David Pears and Brian McGuinness. London: Routledge, 1974. 4 According to Cardew, the original program was recorded in 1966 by a six member ensemble that included guitarist Keith Rowe. Rowe was one of the founders of AMM a British free improvisation group that Cardew joined shortly after its inception (114).


38 a musi cal life. [] Joining AMM was the turning point, both in the composition of Treatise and in everything I had thought about music up to now. [] Up to the time of this performance, improvisation had always terrified me; I thought it must be something like c omposing, but accelerated a million times, a feat of which I knew I was incapable. With the AMM improvisers I discovered that anyone can play, me too, provided, as a Chinese musician of the 16th century put it, the thoughts are serious, the mind peaceful and the will resolute, and what comes out in such play is vital and direct, rather than a translation or interpretation of intellect, attitude, notation, inspiration or what have you. (113 14) Cardews change in attitude toward improvisatory approaches to Treatise is confirmed in the previously cited grant application: A number of general decisions may be made in advance to hold the performance together, but an improvisatory character is essential to the piece (115). However, for Cardew this does not mea n that improvisation is a compulsory element of interpreting his score. Rather, he is conceding that his interpreters have helped him to realize something about his work: without the provision of instructions an infinite number of unique and valid ways to approach his score exist for the performer. Cardew clarifies in the introduction to the Treatise Handbook Not that I now consider Treatise improvisatory any more than I did while writing it. But it does seem (using hindsight) to have pointed in the dir ection of improvisation. A square musician (like myself) might use Treatise as a path to the ocean of spontaneity. Whether it will equip him for survival in that ocean is another question altogether. (98)


39 I had studied Treatise prior to the conception of Mandala Music and it planted the seeds that have blossomed into my composition. The apple rolled a little bit when it fell from the tree, but I owe much of my projects conceptual and practical foundations to Cardew. At the outset of composing Mandala Mus ic performance directions were not a given. However, as I describe in more detail in the next chapter, I realized that I would need to provide performers some guidelines. A mandala score requires a level of engagement that is atypically personal, and with out any sort of instruction I feared that the performer would fail to develop a solo that was true to both the score and his or her artistic bent. My guidelines work to foster an intimate and individualized relationship between the score and performer. I should point out that as directions, my guidelines for an individual interpretation are distinct from instructions. They speak almost exclusively to the process of interpretation, referring to its product only in saying that it should not be an improv isation. I also choose not to incorporate Cardews notion that the sound must depict the sign, for my directions encourage a performer to make subjective associations of the mandala scores images with their meaning; thus, the resulting picture in sound can have an extremely soft focus, so to speak, but still be a picture of the score. Or, to quote the endlessly quotable John Cage, my mandala scores resemble cameras that dont tell you what picture to take, but enable you to take a picture. 5 The most important thing 5 On his own indeterminate compositions. Quoted in Sabine M. Feissts article John Cage and Improvisation: an Unresolved Relationship, included in Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society. Gabriel Solis and Bruno Nettl. eds. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009. 38 51.


40 is that the performer has used the mandala score to set up a strict system of rules for performance, thus avoiding it becoming a free improvisation. Improvisation does later play an integral role in Mandala Music and is an aspect of music making that I have intended to incorporate into the work from the very beginnings of my composition process. However, had I never learned to improvise (a skill on which I still have much room to improve), I may well have entertained a mindset similar to C ardews initial skepticism toward improvisation, and I might not have developed the group directions that explicitly solicit improvisational techniques from performers. More on this later, after I discuss one more composer who has made a profound impact on my work: Pauline Oliveros. I am reluctant to say that I got the idea to use the mandala as a compositional form straight from Oliveros. However, I had read her essay in Software for People titled MMM: Meditation/Mandala/Music several years prior to my thesis. Oliveros incorporates mandala forms into the notation of certain scores, and she has employed mandalas as organizational principles for the performance of other works. 6 In her 6 A number of contemporary composers have used the concept of the mandala in their works, often recog nizable by the titles of their pieces. They commonly reflect composers efforts to explore themes of spirituality, circularity or Eastern music. See the work of Robert Fleisher ( Mandala 1 3 [1979]), Roger Davidson ( Mandala [1983]), David Lumsdaine ( Mandala I V [1968 88]), Margaret Brouwer ( Mandala [2000]), Toshiro Mayuzumi ( Mandala Symphony [1960]), and May Tchi Chen ( Sonic Mandala [1999]) for examples, as well as albums by Japanese synthesizer musician Kitaro ( Mandala [1994]) and progressive rock band RX B andits ( Mandala [2009]). Jazz


41 compositions AOK (1969) and Crow Two (1974), for example, Oliveros uses mandalas as floor plans to position the performers (see figs. 3 and 4). Of mandalas in general, she writes, Each mandala is unique in its elaboration whether as art, process, or construction But in any case, and in all uses, the mandala is a plan for ac tion of some kind or else it is not a mandala (222). I am drawn to Oliveros by her concept of deep listening, which I first encountered in her collection of pieces titled Sonic Meditations (1974) Sonic Meditation invites participation from all presen t, Oliveros writes. It is related to more ancient musical practices where listening as an audience, especially intellectually, was not the specialized practice it is today (156). Deep listening is an integrated form of consciousness in which an auditor simultaneously engages in two attention archetypes: From my research in human consciousness, meditation, and martial arts, I want to show the two major modes of human information processing as attention archetypes. These two modes are Sequential, or Line ar, Processing, which involves focal attention; and Parallel, or Non Linear, Processing, which involves global, or diffuse, attention. These attention archetypes are complementary processes. Both modes are necessary for survival and for success in our acti vities. These two attention modes saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa also made notable use of a mandala as a compositional tool, using mathematical principles to structure his piece based on the number of deities in a sixteenth century Tibetan mandala, part of th e Rubin Museum or Arts collection. Ben Ratliff reviewed the premiere of this composition in the June 26, 2007 issue of the New York Times (p. 7).


42 interact with all the information which comes from the sensory systems, memory, and imagination. (185) Figure 3. AOK floor plan (Oliveros 243). Figure 4. Crow Two floor plan (Oliveros 247). Oli veros models the proper relationship of attention and awareness on the figure of a circle with a dot in the center (see fig. 5). Figure 5. Oliveros model of integrated attention and awareness takes the form of an unembellished mandala (214).


43 The dot represents attention, and the circle, awareness. In these respective positions, each is centered in relation to the other. Awareness can expand, without losing center or its balanced relationship with attention, and simultaneously become more inclu sive. Attention can be focused as fine as possible in any direction, and can probe all aspects of awareness without losing its balanced relationship to awareness. (141) Oliveros diagram is instantly recognizable as a mandala, and the deep listening it symbolizes a kind of meditation. This simple mandala has become indispensable to Oliveros work, and I believe the integration of attention and awareness is an extremely valuable tool for performers of Mandala Music It can be utilized in a performers sol o work with a mandala score as well as in collaboration with other performers. Oliveros describes her experience of deep listening within the sonic meditation titled Teach Yourself to Fly, in which the breath is a point of fixed attention: If I am succe ssful as an observer, while my attention remains fixed on the breath cycle, another phenomenon may appear. That is, while attention remains steady, keeping the details of breathing clearly in focus, awareness is present and may be expanding. During this pr ocess it is also possible to observe myself attending and being aware. For me this is a highly desirable mode of consciousness. It is as though a teacher, mentor or guru in the form of oneself has appeared internally to give one feedback or to reflect th e way things are. (151 52)


44 I find this mode of consciousness equally desirable in a performer who is working through a mandala score, for the feedback system that Oliveros describes instills the confidence or authority over the open form of the score that Brown felt many performers lacked. The performers of the mandala score not only have to teach themselves how to play what is written, as they might learn a piece of music in conventional notation; they are also responsible for inventing the means by which the score is played. My directions stipulate multiple kinds of cognitive processes for working through the score in order to foster an approach that integrates a focus on the scores symbolic particulars through linear, goal oriented processes of analysis and rehearsal; and an awareness of their significance through non linear processes of subjective impressions and meditation. The duality between subjective and objective processes within Mandala Music extends beyond the learning stage; it also applies t o the performance stage specifically, group performance. Performers of a mandala score can certainly make the decision never to integrate their solo into a collaborative performance, choosing instead to let their interpretations stand alone. However, as Ive expressed, the composition is motivated in part by my interest in interpersonal dynamics in performance. To be sure, interpersonal dynamics are activated when a composer reaches a performer through his or her score, but the central issues here involv e problems with the dissemination of information that ever elusive efficacy of the symbols a composer must use to communicate with performers who cant always give him or her the benefit of being physically present (and this frustration goes both ways). H aving gained exposure to plenty of this kind of work in my lifetime as a classically trained musician, I want to further explore the nature of performance in terms of live, real time interpersonal dynamics


45 As Oliveros attests, deep listening is vital t o music making or sonic meditation within a group, particularly when any element of spontaneity is involved. The integration of focal attention and global awareness enables performers within a collective to concentrate deeply on the sounds they themselves produce, while at the same time staying receptive to the sonic activity around them. When a performer maintains attention to their individual sound as it relates to, contributes to, and operates on the collective sound, this creates, in my opinion, an idea l musical collaboration. The collective doesnt necessarily subsume the individual identity of each performer, for they are attending closely to themselves in the moment and experience their activity as belonging to or originating from themselves. However, with a diffused awareness, the performers focus on their sound is constantly impinged upon and thus affected by the surrounding activity. Diffuse awareness opens up performers ability to spontaneously respond to their environment, rendering their ac tivity dynamic, improvisational, discursive, and ultimately social (assuming that the environmental stimuli come from other people). Oliveros graphically notated composition Primordial / Lift subtitled a mandala based improvisation on the recording o f its 1998 world premiere contains circular forms in the score (see ex. 3) that encourage its performers to use the mandala model of deep listening in performance. Oliveros designates its two sections as Primordial mandala and the Lift mandala, (see ex. 4) which suggests an interpretation of the five musicians group improvisation as being a mandala in itself: the score invites the quintet to build a sonic space that they navigate and manipulate through meditation. Oliveros is the only composer I hav e encountered so far who embeds both the concept and the form of the mandala so deeply into her works, and who uses the parallel


46 processes of focus and awareness closely linked to the parallel processes of objective externalization and subjective internal ization described earlier to the same ends that I seek in Mandala Music. Example 3. The circular objects in the upper half of the score are particularly reminiscent of mandalas, and the five pointed star is also a powerful symbol used in religious yantras. Copyright 1998 Deep Listening Publications (ASCAP) (Sauer 170).


47 Example 4. A second view of the score. Copyright 1998 Deep Listening Publications (ASCAP) (Sauer 170). Oliveros labels the forty five minute section as the Primordial andala and the thirty minute section as the Lift mandala. A low frequency oscillator modulating the instrumentalists sounds gradually increases in cycle from 7.8 hz until it reaches 13 hz in the Lift mandala. The liner notes to a CD re cording of the world premiere explain: Primordial / Lift is based on information concerning the shift in the resonant frequency of the earth from 7.8hz to 13hz given in Awakening to the Zero Point by Gregg Braden, Radio Bookstore Press (1997). According to Braden the resonant frequency of the Earth was measured as 7.8hz in 1960 and by 1994 the measurement was at 8.6hz and it will rise to


48 13hz by 2010. At the same time the magnetic fields of the Earth are diminishing in strength towards zero point. By the time that 13hz is established as the resonant frequency the magnetic fields will reverse their polarity North will become South and vice versa. (Oliveros, 2006) Improvisation in Mandala Music Elsewhere I have discussed the feedback system I wished to create between a performer and the text or score they perform. Particularly akin to Cardew and Oliveros, I have given the performers texts over which they have authority. To borrow from Cardew, performers of Mandala Music are allowed the freedom to give of [their] own music (113) when they work through and devise performances of my scores. In and of itself, this has proved to be an incredibly fruitful and successful part of the project: eighteen individuals, from beginners to professionals and with a hug e spectrum of instruments and performance media, have shown me solos based on four of my scores so far. All of them have been unique, creative, and wholly successful. I couldnt have asked for better results. However, another feedback system exists in per formance that I wanted to explore through my project: that vital relationship between performer and audience. In the case of Mandala Music the audience that primarily interests me consists of the performers themselves. Thus, I have taken Mandala Music a s tep further from it being a solo piece and have designed a group method, in which individuals bring their solos together and can work cooperatively toward a realization of a mandala score that is greater than the sum of its parts.


49 I am primarily operating under a theory of communicative virtuosity postulated by William Brooks. In his essay Competenza Maledetta: Seven speeches for a virtuoso composer, Brooks discusses the virtuosity demanded from both performers and audience by Kenneth Gaburos work Lin gua II: Maledetto (Composition for 7 Virtuoso Speakers) [1967 68, Lingua Press] Gaburos composition has very little in common with Mandala Music save that it might be considered a graphically notated score to some extent. However, I find Brooks ideas s urrounding the process of discourse apply directly to my experiences as a performer. As I described from my own experience, I have found that making music with other people is inherently a communicative, social activity, something that I am compelled to ex plore further. Brooks concepts helped me a great deal in creating an environment in Mandala Music that concentrates on live performance dynamics and activates modes of communication other than the verbal; from my own experiences performing with and for ot her people, I can confirm Brooks statement that communication embraces more than speech (16). Brooks differentiates between speaKKers, objects that perform according to an external code without possessing the ability to consciously alter that code or interact with an audience, e.g., a record player; and SSSpeakers, literally ones who speak, implying human agents in the act of communicating with others. 7 Brooks claims that a 7 A note on Brooks unusual use of capitalization: Lingua II: Maledetto is a text sound composition in which an ensemble of vocalists deconstruct the word screw in various ways; one of these deconstructions literally takes the word apart as the vocalists explore each sonic articulation involved in saying screw. Brooks is making a play on the sibilant texture s highlighted in the beginning of the piece as the ensemble produces a


50 SSSpeaker can be a virtuoso, whereas a speaKKer cannot. Although modern technology has produced electronics with a capacity for technical complexity, precision, and consistency that far exceeds that of humans, Brooks insists virtuosity is not simply excellent execution (15). Brooks first outlines some key premises surroundi ng communicative acts, which I will try to elucidate by applying them to the context of Mandala Music : [A] communicative act orients both collocutors (that is: both communicator and communicatee), each to a subset of their domain of possible interactions w ith the environment; each domain being different, they proceed along independent, though parallel, paths. Self conscious organisms observe themselves as well as others. Self descriptive, they can represent and interact with their own states and interac tions; notably, they can make representations of predictions and classes of suitable interactions and can interact with these in a domain which is purely cognitive: they can stipulate and choose. In particular, then, human collocutors observe themselves co mmunicating. As observers, and only as observers, they "understand"; observing the communications to which they attend, they stipulate a system within which these can be said to signify: they stipulate a language. Their language is their own; whatever its constituents, insofar as it signifies, it is not directly comparable with another' s. (16 17) chorus of S sounds, as well as the explosive K sounds introduced later in the work as the vocalists articulate the hard C.


51 On his or her own, a participant in a group performance of a mandala score has carefully and thoughtfully (read: cognitively) stipulated a language or code for per forming within the domain of the score. When the group reconvenes, they are given the opportunity to share these interpretations essentially, by playing their individual solos, each performer communicates his or her unique findings about the score to the others. This serves to orient the group to that particular performers subset of interactions and responses to the domain. Brooks explains further how communicative activity renders a successful communication: Being self conscious, such a collocu tor (a SSSpeaker, perhaps) can stipulate classes of suitable interactions. Being a collocutor, such a collocutor requires that there be at least one other comparable collocutor; this Other, being comparable, can also stipulate. Being an observer, observing the Other, such a collocutor may stipulate that the Other is also an observer Tempted by such convergence, such a collocutor may then stipulate a code: a language which he ascribes to the Other and which, preserving symmetry, he stipulates the Other to have ascribed to him. Such a code represents a stipulated class of suitable communications (interactions); when subsequent communications are indeed members of this class and, moreover, prove suitable for both collocutor and Other, the code itself is deeme d suitable. In such circumstances I (now explicitly a SSSpeaker, hence a collocutor) declare collocutor and Other competent in the code; further, I declare competence to be the ability to stipulate a suitable code. (18)


52 When performers play a mandala score for one another, the language stipulated here is an explosion of the individuals code. The performers all understand that their interpretations are different yet valid interpretations of the same text One might say that they are all reciting the same story in different languages or in different dialects of a performance language. The lack of semantics in this kind of communicative activity opens up the field for mutual understanding by a considerable degree, and this ability to be understood is what Brooks deems competence. An object such as a high fidelity record player cannot be considered competent because, although it performs at high level, it has nothing to do with the stipulation of the code that it executes. By following the directions fo r a solo interpretation and bringing to the group setting a fully fleshed out solo performance of their own invention, an individual is determined to be competent in the suitable code for Mandala Music. The class of communications represented by a code is stipulated, not actual; hence it may be that a subsequent communication proves suitable but is not a member of the class. Perhaps the observer (a collocutor) then stipulates a new code; but perhaps he instead stipulates an alternative communication, simila r to that which occurred but consistent with the code already stipulated. In the latter case he declares the communicator competent still, but an imperfect performer, and the communication imperfectly performed; performance, then, concerns the difference b etween the actual and stipulated communication. (18) Brooks here helps me to explain how performers with totally different methods of playing the same mandala score can actually be successful in playing them together. If a


53 group of performers simply layers their solos on top of one another in an act of simultaneous soloing, and they find this to be a satisfying performance, then this signifies the performers accept their separate codes for performance to be already in the same class thus suitable. Howe ver, for whatever reason the group members may desire to alter their individual codes in order to work toward a more cohesive performance; they may feel the alternatives to the score code dont fit within the domain of their collective sound. I believe t his to be analogous to incomplete or failed communication: the performers are operating within codes that their collocutors dont know how to fit with their own, and thus a performance (read: communication) doesnt fully succeed. All is not lost in this case; in fact, I think its a rarity for any communicative codes to perfectly mesh on the first try. Linguistic systems, of course, are designed to make the process of communication easier; however, as Im sure everyone knows from experience, they arent f oolproof. In both verbal and non verbal communication, the clash of individual codes is really what makes communication a process So far, Brooks has helped to establish what it takes to just get oneself across. However, if upon arrival the communicative act doesnt get through and your collocutor doesnt get what youre saying, what then? As Brooks explains, this is where the concept of virtuosity enters the picture. SSSpeakers stipulate codes, with varying degrees of competence, and perform in acc ordance with these codes, with varying degrees of skill. SpeaKKers, on the other hand, are built by observers and embody observers' codes; they do not stipulate their own. Recapitulating:


54 speaKKers cannot be virtuosi; SSSpeakers can. Both speaKKers and S SSpeakers perform. SpeaKKers cannot be competent; SSSpeakers can. Conclusions, and some answers to our questions: (i) virtuosity has to do with competence, not performance; (ii) speaKKers cannot be virtuosi because they cannot be competent; (iii) Maledetto therefore requires SSSpeakers, not speaKKers SSSpeakers, moreover, who are virtuosically competent: that is, extraordinarily proficient in stipulating suitable codes. that' s the virtue of a dialogue. If what you venture is not suitable (but is a commun ication), it' s my turn to choose, modify, or invent Thus, by successive approximations, confirming, altering, or replacing our stipulated codes, we can evolve a communication (the union of these bits) that is suitable; together we find competence in a cod e with which neither began. Something, perhaps, has been learned. (19 23) I call the group performance method the second phase of Mandala Music because I have devised a process by which a group can transform their individual solos into a collaborative c omposition. If the performers decide their communication with one another isnt effective enough to render a successful group performance, I provide additional directions for performance through which they can attempt to restipulate their individual perfor mance codes. Improvisation is key to this process. I expect the performers to stumble upon unfamiliar territory when they begin to deviate from their original performance codes and experiment with finding codes that occupy a common performance domain. When this occurs, the performers will need to make choices in the spur of the moment not arbitrary choices, but choices informed by performance codes


55 stipulated by the individual, the performance codes stipulated by the group, and the performance that is actu ally occurring around them. Improvisation can serve to differentiate how and to whom performances communicate. A non improvisatory performance implies the audience is passive : the audience members mentally engage with the performer by listening but are not obligated to respond to the performance in a tangible way; and if they do respond, they usually do so once the entire performance event has finished, e.g., applause or a critical review. An improvisatory performance implies at least one member of the audience is active : someone is participating in the performance not just by listening, but also by responding visibly and/or audibly to his or her collocutor in the moment of performance. 8 As Brooks 8 I have used the dichotomy of passive and active for lack of better terms. My choice of the word passive does not imply that the audience does not participate; the act of listening certainly can take the form of thorough engagement with the performance. I merely want to make the distinction that this passive kind of involvement with the performance does not impact the performers activity in the same way a fellow performer would. Although I lack the room here, elsewhere I have employed Brooks concepts to make the case for communicative virtuosity in passive audiences, which I believe is required in particular of the larger audiences of new music ( Mandala Music for example!). Twentieth and twenty first century music has built a solid reputation for challenging both the ear and mind of the listener. I n short, audiences of new music must take charge of their listening experiences and develop the virtuosity to re stipulate their codes for what constitutes the domain of music, and what constitutes the activity of listening to it.


56 demonstrates in the above passage, the ability to impro vise is key to all communicative processes and is the factor that constitutes communicative virtuosity. This goes not only for the communicative processes involved in the performances that make up a persons everyday life; improvisation within the contex t of performance art renders these kinds of heightened performances virtuosic in their capacity to communicate with fellow performers. I would argue that audience members who are not performing can benefit from this communicative virtuosity as well: a gr oup of performers who are communicatively in tune with one another as well as their audience is fascinating and gratifying to watch. One feels that they are witnessing a performance that, although it can be repeated, can never be perfectly replicated. Li ve performance arts ephemeral, immediate, and unstable qualities prove irresistible to human audiences. This is why Mandala Music has two parts: I wanted to push it further than the first phase, in which the score serves as a communication between compos er and performer. Although the graphic scores communicate with the performer in an unconventional way, as compositions intended for solo performance art media they are much like traditional music because they presuppose a passive audience (if there is to b e an audience at all). Virtuosic communication cant occur until the performer enters the second phase with a collocutor. This is not to say that a solo version of the mandala score cant be considered virtuosic on its own. Ive seen many virtuosic inter pretations thereof by extremely talented and imaginative performers, but this virtuosity is not contingent upon the technical or even expressive prowess that a conservatory educated performer is trained to demonstrate. A virtuosic solo of a mandala score i s defined by the performance of a


57 deeply personal, richly complex, and thoroughly developed code that can be employed toward virtuosic communication with an active audience. My current understanding of performance dictates that excellent execution does not determine excellent music; I also understand that as an experiential form, music (or any other performance art) reaches an apex of efficacy when those who experience it recognize some reference to their existential condition in other words, when the p erformance speaks to them. Its my opinion that, because of its vital importance to human interaction, improvisation within performance art renders it more lifelike that is to say, it imbues a performance with the qualities of what it means to be aliv e. Therefore, I have done my best to develop a composition through which performers gain an opportunity to collectively explore this extraordinary feature of performance art, and perhaps will be able to nurture their own communicative virtuosity.


58 Chap ter 3: Methods and Process Compositional Process The methods of composing the mandala scores and interpreting them are closely linked Before I even began my roughest drafts of these graphical scores, I had decided on their basic organization and set the g oal of producing a total of eight mandala scores. I personally possess no background in visual art or art history, so at first the task of producing these visual objects daunted me. I was unsure how I could judge a mandala score as good or even finished Id hoped that the research on traditional mandalas would aid me in creating them. While it served to educate me greatly on their form and function within other cultures, I grew increasingly unsure as to how to begin drafting them. I found the theology difficult to absorb; my Westernized brain had a hard time understanding even the most basic tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism that undergird the mandala. In terms of actual craft, the texts continually emphasized the importance of meticulousness and precisi on in creating mandalas. The Hindu yantras are very precise in their geometry and symmetry, and have a very rigid tradition in how they are composed. Deviation from the strictures of a particular mandalas form is said to have dire consequences for the man dalas creator: If the structure of the yantra is imperfect, that is, if the balance of the outer form is distorted or if even a single line or symbol is eliminated, then the content and symbolic significance will be abolished simultaneously. Moreover, acc ording to this principle, the maker of a deformed yantra (as well as the one who worships it) will suffer a cognate distortion of the


59 archetypal image within his psyche. Any disregarded error in the making of the symbol will lead to a psychic disequilibriu m in the s dhaka and destroy his s dhan 9 To avoid error, the yantra is executed with extreme care following traditional prescriptions to the minutest detail. No corrections are ever possible. If an error is made, the yantra is immersed in holy water and a new one is begun. (Khanna 134) The rigidity of form Khanna describes made me hesitate, because I planned by no means to be precise in my geometry. I also felt reluctant to employ too much symmetry because I anticipated it might limit the creative activit y of the performers. I planned to stay away from repetitive patterns in the mandalas because I wanted to avoid channeling performers into ruts. I assumed a performer wouldnt be encouraged to explore his or her own artistry if presented with little variety in the score he or she wished to interpret. However, straying far from the traditional forms gave me pause: I did not wish to merely toy with such a sacred and powerful art form. I wished to incorporate its power, beauty, and complexity into my compositio n. But if I didnt even know what my mandala scores were to look like, then how could I even begin to approach the perfection embodied within and demanded by the form of a traditional mandala? The texts on contemporary mandala making pointed me in a more a ccessible direction, but still I felt uncertain about my methods. Although I knew I would have to start drafting in a somewhat free form manner, I would also do so with a specific symbol set in mind, depending on which aspect of music notation I used. For example, in the 9 From Khannas glossary of terms, a s dhaka is a spiritual aspirant. S dhan refers to his or her spiritual discipline or spiritual practice (171).


60 second movement Cleave, my symbol set consisted of the treble, alto, and bass clefs, which were the focus of my mediation and are discernable as abstracted forms within the final score (see Appendix A, Mvt. II). According to Finchers gui de, one draws the mandala while in a deep meditative state. The symbols, colors and shapes that result are supposed to come from the subconscious self, with no intentional mental or emotional influences (25 27). Jung also writes, The fact that images of t his kind have under certain circumstances a considerable therapeutic effect on their authors is empirically proved and also readily understandable, in that they often represent very bold attempts to see and put together apparently irreconcilable opposites and bridge over apparently hopeless splits. Even the mere attempt in this direction usually has a healing effect, but only when it is done spontaneously. Nothing can be expected from an artificial repetition or a deliberate imitation of such images. (5) Once again, I worried that my deviation from the models outlined by Jung and Fincher would somehow compromise the integrity of my mandala scores. My mistake lay in the fact that I myself had lost track of the mantra I wanted to instill in the performers: t rust your creative instincts. Since I was trying to create a work of performance art using a totally new style of notation, I had to become comfortable in the liminal space between traditional and contemporary mandalas. My project is something partly inspi red by, but wholly different from either tradition. If I was to head into previously uncharted territory with this project, then I had to stop fretting that my work wouldnt be authentic.


61 Sometimes the secret to getting something done is to jump in and do and thats precisely what I did next. I stopped reading and started drawing. After completing the first two rough drafts, I began to notice trends and tendencies in my drawing activity that approximated a method. I took several cues from Oliveros in or der to establish two basic constancies for each movement: first, they would be contained in a symmetrical shape, a circle, and second, every mandala score would contain a clearly marked central point (222). In traditional mandalas, this point is called the bindu (Khanna 9). Oliveros also writes, I was always interested in the vibratory nature of red and blue and black and white (227). I rendered the first drafts of each movement in pastel, allowing myself complete freedom with the color spectrum available to me, but I rendered the subsequent revisions in ink, using only red, blue and black pigments. The pastels proved to be a messy medium which I rather liked. However, the resulting drafts were smudged, blurry and obscure. Cardew writes, There can be no indeterminacy in the notation itself but only in the rules for its interpretation I feel that things which are difficult to understand should be said in such a way that at least they are easy to read; otherwise the difficulty encountered in reading pre vents you from even starting to understand (8 11). I felt that the unrefined quality and complex color schemes of the pastel drafts would confound a performers efforts in interpretation; thus, in each ink draft I simplified the color schemes, clarified and concretized the imagery, and in some of the more visually dense drafts, eliminated extraneous or irrelevant figures. My goals in each revision were to cultivate elegance and deliberateness in the images, to foreground elements that invited interpretati on or inspired creative production, and to attempt to edit out confusing or contradictory information.


62 When I sat down to draw each preliminary draft, I first engaged in a meditative pre composition process. This included an intense visualization and catal oguing of the symbol set for the mandala score at hand, followed by a relaxation of focus, allowing the catalogue to freely play within my creative imagination. When I felt ready to begin, I chose a colored pastel to trace the mandala scores outer perimet er and mark the bindu. Focusing on my breath and the symbol set, I drew freely. The experience was that of riding a wave of impulses. I traced lines, filled in shapes, and changed colors whenever I felt the instinct to do so. I did not stop to rationalize the choices I made. When I ceased to feel an impulse to draw, I would stop and wait for the next one. If this did not come, I knew the draft was finished. The first two rough drafts of mandala scores were accomplished very quickly. I began on July 9, 2010 with Mvt. V, Have an Accident, and followed it three days later with Mvt. I, Stave Off. It took less than twenty minutes to complete each of them. I believe this was due to the narrowness of the symbol set for each. A major part of knowing I had finish ed a rough draft was the feeling of having exhausted the symbol sets potential, or at least having addressed all of the symbols that floated into my mind during the drafting process. Larger symbol sets, such as the variety of articulatory and expressive m arkings in music, compelled me to spend more time on those mandala scores and to create multiple rough drafts. As one might imagine, the score that took the longest to finalize was, Picture This, the movement that had no basis in any notational system. Since I prescribed no symbol set with which to work, I basically devised my own personal symbol set. This movement went through five rough drafts before inking. I was


63 finally able to employ the methods for contemporary mandala making as described by Finche r and Jung, which I found deeply satisfying in practice but not as satisfactory in terms of product. Fincher writes, When we create a mandala, we make a personal symbol that reveals who we are at that moment (24). When I examined each draft, I didnt fe el comfortable with choosing any of them to be a permanent member of my scores. Id anticipated this, however. Instead of choosing one draft to edit, I analyzed the five drafts for commonalities. I predicted that Id find the trail of some loose threads th at tied them all together, but the actual results of my analysis astounded me. I had rendered the first draft on July 27, 2010; the last draft came on November 29. Despite the temporal span of the drafting process, the colors blue and yellow dominated each mandala. The symbols that they shared included a jagged reddish line, petal or teardrop imagery, D shaped crescents, arrows, serpentine lines, wing like shapes, triangles, and groupings of dots. These became my symbol set, and they comprise the final dr aft of Picture This. Although Im attached to each individual score, Picture This strikes me as the most personal. In a way it sums up my investment and involvement in the project, especially as I struggled with the idea of where I actually fit into t he scheme of things. I didnt intend for the mandala scores to be an explicit product of self expression, which I believe motivates many artists and composers. When a composer puts the time and effort into creating a conventional piece of music, his or her own artistic agenda often shouts down the majority of a performers own creative instincts. I created my mandala scores with no preconceived notions as to how someone should interpret or perform them, save that they do so with seriousness, confidence, pas sion and above all enjoyment the same attitudes in which I made them. The interpreter will take the same kind of risks that I


64 took: the risk lies not in doing it poorly or incorrectly; the risk lies in doing it at all, for the outcome is not certain. At its most straightforward, Mandala Music is simply a focus for the concentration of our energies (Fincher 24). It served as a gratifying and fulfilling focus for me, and as the so called composer I can only hope Ive passed that on to those who play (in) them. The Directions As I described in the previous chapter, I began drafting the mandala scores with the notion that performance instructions were not necessarily my concern. I referred most to Cardews writings on the problem, and found him both excited and frustrated by the prospect of giving performers such an extraordinary amount of freedom. Following the trajectory of Cardews work in composing and realizing Treatise was at turns enlightening and confusing for me. As with the texts concerning Hindu and Buddhist theology, I found him very difficult to follow at points. However, I also felt reassured in Cardews continual willingness to question and contradict himself, at least in the writings of his early career. I was particularly struck by th e exhortation in Notation Interpretation, etc. that every sign should be active. This, he writes, is what gives the performer the freedom and I imagine, the incentive or the inspiration to determine what the action the notation prescribes really is ( 8). I looked at my mandala scores and wondered, hoped, and prayed that something about them was active that they somehow invited a performer to take them on. Cardew specifies a few ways in which to achieve this. Here are the openings for indeterminacy, or freedom for the player: he must decide which signs he will give activity to, or allow to act. The


65 composer can bring this about in a variety of ways: by overloading the player with so many rules that they begin to contradict each other; or by using the same sign in a variety of contexts where it cannot mean the same (paradoxical notation); or by giving no rules whatever and obliging the player to seek out just such rules as he needs or as will make sense of the notation. [] All these are psychological o bscurities directed at the player in the hope of waking him up. (8) Treatise employs all of these techniques in indeterminacy, but the last one the idea of giving no rules most closely fit my goals for Mandala Music This technique, however, I knew w ould prove problematic; I had no specific preferences as to how someone should approach a mandala score, but I had definite ideas as to how the scores should not be approached. As Cardew puts it, There is a great difference between: a) doing anything you like and at the same time reading the notations, and b) reading the notations and trying to translate them into action (107). I did not want to hear a performer sight read a given mandala score, for the meaning imparted to the notation this way wouldnt carry the level or depth of personal significance to the performer that I desired them to develop in working with the mandala score. Treatise is such a vast work that its arguably impossible for a single performer to develop a closed system of rules by which to play it in its entirety. Cardew describes only two pre publication performances of all 193 pages: the performance on April 8, 1967 involved eleven musicians, with Cardew conducting. The performance on May 19 later that year involved six musicians, this time with Cardew playing the cello. Each performer was responsible for interpreting only certain parts of the notation, effectively dividing the


66 workload into more manageable portions (118 19). I firmly believe that the workload demanded by one of my mandala scores is sufficient for one performer to handle alone. I want performers to make thoughtful decisions about how to perform the notation, and stick to those decisions in performance. At first I hesitated to prescribe instructions and thus limit th e performers freedom, but at the same time I desired a disciplined approach to the score. Cardew evidently grappled with this as well. As seen in the previous chapter, his attitude toward improvisation as an approach to performing Treatise shifted conside rably in the seven years between 1963, when he began sketching the piece, to 1970, when he wrote the introduction to the Treatise Handbook I decided it would be best to equip my performers with some guidance for survival upon the ocean of spontaneity that sustains Mandala Music as well as Treatise The trick, I discovered, would be to say only what was absolutely necessary to create a solid framework within which a performer could comfortably orient him or herself. Thus, I developed directions for p erformance that are entirely verbal and separate from the scores themselves (see Appendix B). One set of directions guides a soloist; the other refers to the solo instructions and elaborates upon them to guide an ensemble. As mentioned previously, I stipul ate in the solo instructions that the interpretation process involves sub processes that are both subjective and objective. The performer is encouraged to subjectively explore the mandala by both responding to their first impressions of the image and by me ditating on the score, allowing ideas for interpretation to materialize in a manner that mirrors the process that produced the scores. The directions also suggest they revise and concretize the products of their impressions and meditation through critical analysis of the score and practical application of their ideas on


67 their instrument or within their performance medium. The sub processes dont necessarily take place in a regimented order, and the performer may change freely from one to another throughout the entire interpretation process. I make it clear that no room for improvisation exists in the solo only in collaboration within a group of performers should improvisation enter the performance field. In the group setting, the directions encourage the p erformers to improvise in moments of uncertainty while playing through a version of their solo that may have been significantly altered through the introduction of new performance rules, brainstormed and agreed upon by the whole group. The group is also en couraged to structure a group performance with a time span that is longer than any individual solo. When members of the group reach the end of their solos, the directions invite them to play it again, spontaneously choosing a new approach to their solos. T hey improvise with the new rules while maintaining an awareness of the whole ensemble the directions encourage the improviser to use their fellow performers for support as they break down their former decoding system and endeavor a new navigation of the score. The solo phase addresses my interest in creating a special relationship between an artist and a score, in which the score gives the artist the agency to create a performance that is meaningful specifically to them, thus opening up creative avenues for self exploration and self expression that cant be accessed through conventionally notated music. The ensemble phase addresses my interest in music and performance acting as an engine for social discourse, as well my interest in improvisation as a typ e of virtuosic communication. Workshopping Mandala Music


68 Compositions like Mandala Music necessitate test runs. I think only half of the experimental in experimental music has to do with the demands of the composition; the other half deals with get ting the piece to work, period. I began testing Mandala Music s efficacy with a group of thirteen soloists, nine of whom were New College of Florida students, four of whom were alumni. I wanted 1) to find out if my directions were clear enough to successfu lly guide a thorough interpretation of the mandala without encroaching on a performers creative freedom, 2) to see if my scores could actually function to inspire interesting and satisfying performances, and 3) to see if the group ran into any common prob lems. I included a questionnaire with each soloists score and set of instructions (see Appendix C), and the soloists responses informed my revisions, particularly of the instructions. I want to make it clear that the purpose of gathering this data was no t to make generalizations about their responses to the graphical scores. My focus rested entirely on ensuring that Mandala Music was a functional composition. I used the questionnaire responses solely for my own edification and in discussions with my thesi s sponsor. I assigned three mandala scores among the thirteen soloists: five performed Mvt. I, Stave Off (although only three submitted responses to the questionnaire); six performed Mvt. V, Have an Accident; and two performed Mvt. IV, Note Well. Pa rt of the questionnaire asks the soloist to describe in detail the performance method they devised, and I videotaped these solos as a reference for myself to better understand the process and product of each realization. The instructions state that any per formance medium may be used including non musical ones and I was delighted with the variety of instruments with which people performed. The renditions included upright bass/voice,


69 acoustic guitar, movement/voice, cello, mime, bongo drums, theater, keyb oard/voice with lyrics, saxophone, a cappella voice, two electric bass guitars, piano, and steel drum. Time length of the thirteen solos ranged from under fifteen seconds to over twelve minutes. Some soloists manipulated and rotated the score in order to a chieve their realizations one even traced a spiral line to the center and read it as if he were the needle on a turntable, using the different colors that he encountered in the groove to signify different pitches. Another soloist struggled with incorporat ing one part of a mandala score into his performance, so he solved the problem by arriving at the recording session with the symbol traced over his face in ink. Individuals navigation of the scores varied widely as well. As mentioned before, some read in a circular pattern; others read the score left to right or top to bottom; still others experimented with different trajectories until they settled on one they liked best. Some responded strongest to color; others to spatial structure; others to symbols the y recognized. Every single process was unique, just as every single performance was. They were highly individual and, in my opinion, all were interesting. Some soloists reported to me that they were disappointed in their solos. They wished they had been ab le to devote more time to their interpretations, or felt their performance became overly constricted by their own rules, or worried they werent creative enough for this kind of exercise. Most soloists said the mandala score intimidated them at first. I reassured them that the most important element of Mandala Music is the process of interpretation, not its product. My questionnaire encouraged the soloists to do some introspection on their self concepts as performers, asking if their work with the mandala score had altered or expanded their senses of artistry. I got the


70 impression that most soloists came away surprised that they had been able to produce anything at all, and the process, while challenging, had been intrinsically rewarding on a personal leve l. The vast variety of the solo performances signified to me that this set of instructions really worked. Although I would have liked to see what the soloists might have created after a week or more of work on one score, the reality of the situation was th at they were all young students, interns or professionals with plenty of obligations on their plates aside from assisting me with my thesis project. They came to the table with varying levels of experience, both in their performance medium and in performan ce art of this type. Despite these circumstances, my peers all presented me with thoughtful readings of the mandala scores, each of which I wholeheartedly deemed successful. To continue with the workshopping process, I had to find out what would happen w hen groups of soloists got together to construct a collaborative interpretation. I was able to arrange two workshops with peer ensembles. The first workshop involved a quartet of a vocalist, a saxophonist, a pianist, and a bongo drummer. Three of the parti cipants had been involved with the solo phase, and one joined the project once Id moved on to the ensemble phase. All had prepared solos based on Mvt. V, Have an Accident. As per my instructions, the group convened in an hour long session in which they worked to integrate their solo interpretations within an ensemble performance. The group spent approximately twenty five minutes discussing their individual methods and brainstorming ways of making them work together; this process included two members prac ticing their parts together to ensure they didnt create an undesirable amount of dissonance. Then the participants played through the score several times. I captured these


71 performances with a digital recorder. Throughout this workshop session I strove t o maintain a passive observational role, answering questions the performers raised and only making a few suggestions when I felt the ensemble grew disoriented, or when their confidence in what they were doing began to falter. Three of the four performers had backgrounds in jazz performance, and all possessed experience with playing or singing in conventional music ensembles. I think this influenced the choices they made in structuring the group performance: they agreed on a general key area, meter, and tem po. They decided not to begin or end together; instead, they staggered their entrances and cut offs. The saxophonist had developed the longest solo of the quartet, so she determined the time length of the group performance: she played through her solo once and cued its termination while the other performers looped their solos throughout. By the last run through, the piece had begun to take on a definite structure as the performers gained confidence and started listening more to one another. However, I detec ted little, if any improvisation as suggested in the directions. The soloist with the longest solo did not alter hers at all, although she stated in her response to the questionnaire that she tried to listen to the other performers and control the tempo m ore so then I did when playing alone. I especially played in sync with [the pianist] I tried to emphasize accents more when he played. Of the performance as a whole, she wrote, My reflection of the performance was that its realization was a strong rhy thmically repetitious underbelly (my part and [the bongo player]s part), with accents and long chords throughout ([piano]), and improvisatory ornamentation floating on top ([voice]).


72 The vocalists performance definitely changed the most from solo to ens emble realization; she spontaneously altered pitches and tempo to fit the both the groups beat and the chordal textures created by the saxophone and piano parts. She wrote, I found it challenging to stay true to my initial composition when performing wit h others, citing a temptation to make her part sound more pleasing in conjunction with the other instruments. The other two performers repeated their solos nearly verbatim the only change being the pianists switch from a meter in three to a meter in four to match the saxophonist. The looping created interesting shifts in texture, and I think with continued work the group could have developed a piece conducive to a public presentation. However, I believe the group may have focused on product over proc ess in the workshop hence the quick decisions to agree on musical elements that allow a conventional ensemble to play together (key, meter and tempo), and their hesitancy to expand and explore their parts through improvisation once they hit on a structu re within which said parts all seemed to fit and function. This is not to say the first group workshop was unsuccessful. In their questionnaire responses, three performers expressed surprise at how well their individual parts worked together, even when rel atively unchanged. As the pianist wrote, We embraced the differences and I think that was the focus of our collaborative performance. After this workshop I performed a major overhaul on my directions for group performance. I eliminated the discussion of individuals solo methods altogether, replacing them with a series of activities that would serve to familiarize the group with one anothers solos through performance, not verbal description. I also decided to make the rule brainstorming an optional exerc ise; by stipulating it as a mandatory process, I


73 had excluded the possibility that a group could be satisfied with the way their solos worked as an ensemble piece, without imposing any extra manipulation upon them. Appendix D is a set of DVD s documenting p ortions of a workshop with the JACK Quartet, an amazingly talented group of string musicians from New York. The performance of new music is a serious business for JACK. They came to the workshop with a solid history of working with indeterminate and graphi cally notated music, and were extremely well equipped for collaborating in an improvisatory manner on my score. I sent them a copy of the final movement, Picture This, along with the solo directions and the new and improved group directions. This worksho p marked my first opportunity to see a group of professionals produce solo interpretations of a score, and it was the first time an ensemble worked through all of the performance activities suggested in the directions. All of my anxiety about the group dir ections efficacy disappeared by the end of the workshop: the quartet tackled each performance situation with serious concentration and keen sensitivity to their fellow performers, and the resulting ensemble performance was breathtaking. Thanks to JACK, I am now fully confident that the extensive thought, experimentation, and revision that went into Mandala Music culminated in a piece that does exactly what I want it to do.


74 Chapter 4: Conclusion I suppose a concluding chapter usually acts as a capston e or summary of the whole body of prose preceding it. However, I prefer to treat the conclusions to my written works as ellipses rather than periods. Therefore, Id like to address two questions regarding the future of Mandala Music First, where could Ma ndala Music go from here? I remain deeply interested in the way performance art works as a social, communicative activity and the mandala scores could possibly serve as the vehicle to extend my studies in this field. As I mentioned in the introduction, th e prototype to this project actually involved a group process by which individuals learned different scores and layered them on top of one another to produce entirely new scores. My goal for this exercise consisted of performers using their performance cod es for the familiar material and re stipulating their methods for parts of the score theyd never seen before. The re stipulation process would be informed by what the performer perceived his or her performance partner(s) to be doing in real time. As they stand, the mandala scores in this collection are too complex for layering. When superimposed on one another, the resulting image becomes such an overwhelming jumble that an individuals performance methods would be confounded to the point of impossibility not challenged to the point of flexibility. However, as an extension of these eight scores, I would be interested in developing a set of simpler scores that are conducive to layering. I think the collaboration invited by this kind of engagement with the score can produce a very intense kind of performance one that is dominated by immediacy and uncertainty, which requires the performer to lock on to their fellow collocutor and work together in navigating the mandala score. The improvisational


75 character of the piece would increase exponentially in this kind of work. These simplified could be regarded as exercises or warm ups to Mandala Music designed to develop connectedness between the players, which is essential for group performance. The second quest ion I want to address relates to the question of performance in general: is Mandala Music intended for a larger audience than the performers themselves? The short answer: yes, possibly. To introduce the long answer, I refer to Thomas Turinos distinction b etween two fields of music making: participatory music and presentational music Turino defines participatory music as: a special type of art in which there are only participants and potential participants in a face to face situation. This field is de fined by the ethical priority of involving as many people as possible in the actual acts of music making and dance, as well as by a distinct set of values by which the success of a performance is significantly judged by the degree of participation achieved (108 09) With the current set of directions, Mandala Music stands in the category of participatory music. I judge the success of the project by the vast range of approaches that performers from a wide range of artistic backgrounds have taken in interpret ing the scores. I also deem it a success due to the amazing collaborations I have witnessed so far The groups have produced exciting, even stunning performances but the truly fascinating part for me has been to observe people dynamically collaborating within the process itself. My directions do not specify that a group of musicians should ever take a larger audience into consideration when working on a mandala score. However, by leaving this


76 aspect of its performance open ended, I have given the perfor mers the option to take Mandala Music into the presentational field. Turino writes, In presentational music, performers have the responsibility of interesting and entertaining their audience. This results in an emphasis on clearer textures so an audience c an follow what individual performers are doing, as well as on planned contrasts and highlighted virtuosic solos to create variety and interest. (111) In observing groups working together, especially those groups that collaborated in more than one session t ogether, it became clear to me that Mandala Music doesnt have to stay behind closed doors. As the ensemble becomes increasingly familiar with each others performance codes and develops ways of combining them into a cohesive and interactive group performa nce, it may become desirable to share the fruits of their labor with an audience that is not limited just to those who are both performing and listening. I have designed Mandala Music with a focus on producing performances that are satisfying and self affi rming to those who play it, and I think that kind of gratification will encourage performers to publicly demonstrate the relationships theyve developed with the score and subsequently with their playmates. I find it interesting, and in the back of my mi nd perhaps a little bit disconcerting, that two of my models eventually rejected graphic notation as a mode for composition. Both Earle Brown and Cornelius Cardew never went back to composing in purely graphical notation in the same vein that produced the seminal pieces I described in my second chapter. I believe that this speaks not to any flaws inherent in graphical notation, but rather it speaks to a certain slipperiness inherent in graphical notation that renders it


77 exciting for a performer like me in exploring new ways of communicating with performance art, but frustrating for composers like them in trying to pin down their musical ideas. Fortunately, graphical notation did not die along with their interest in it, for their work and the ethos behind i t has inspired a new generation of composers, too multitudinous to even begin to adequately cite, that keeps graphical notation alive and well. I am proud to join their ranks with my first composition, Mandala Music and hope to continue to develop works t hat essentially are for performers, by a performer.


78 APPENDIX A Mandala scores Note: Mvts. I VII are printe d as freehand drafts. Digital renderings of all scores will be included in the published thesis.


79 M o v e m e n t I S t a v e O f f


80 M o v e m e n t I I C l e a v e


81 M o v e m e n t I I I K e e p T i m e


82 M o v e m e n t I V N o t e W e l l


83 M o v e m e n t V H a v e a n A c c i d e n t


84 M o v e m e n t V I B e D y n a m i c


85 M o v e m e n t V I I A r t i c u l a t e


86 M o v e m e n t V I I I P i c t u r e T h i s


87 APPENDIX B Directions


88 Mandala Music Phase I. Solo Performance Directions (1) Select a mandala score and your performance medium. The title of the piece contains the word music; but if you wish, your performance need not be musical as long as you believe it to be a performance. (2) Your solo performance should be overall a linear one. That is, it has a definite start and stopping point, and in between addresses all aspects of the ma ndalas symbols. It should not be an improvisation. (3) The decoding process is both subjective and objective. Ideally, your work with the mandala score includes all of these sub processes of absorbing and engaging the score: a. First impressions b. Meditation c. Anal ysis d. Practice/Rehearsal Be sure you make some decisions about the execution of your mandala score via sub processes (a) (c) before you begin to experiment with sub process (d). These decisions may of course be altered later on. (4) In an ideal realization o f a mandala score, a performer would be able to prove internalization and mastery of the piece in some way. For example: Memorization of the mandala score Transcription of the mandala score into determinate notation, e.g., traditional notation, tablature, Labanotation, verbal instructions (5) Do your best to keep your methods private from any other soloists who are also working on Mandala Music. If you are working within a group, you may proceed to Phase II when all members have finished the creation of their solos. Some questions to ask yourself throughout What does it mean to me to be a performer, from the broadest to the most specific terms? How do the symbols and images of the mandala score evoke or map onto my experience as a performer?


89 Man dala Music, Phase II. Group Performance Directions (1) You and at least one other performer select a mandala score to perform. The title of the piece contains the word music; but if you wish, your performances need not be musical as long as you believe them to be a performance. (2) Each performer independently and privately works through Phase I, the solo performance. See Phase I directions. (3) Reconvene with your performance partner(s) when all have determined their way to perform the mandala as a solo, and explore each others findings. Allow each soloist to perform his or her solo for the group. Each soloist finds a spot in the room that provides ample personal space but allows all performers to see and hear one another. a. All performers play their solo s simultaneously. b. While playing his or her solo, each performer may respond to the others activity, so long all performers remain faithful to the rules of their individual solos. The soloists may also choose to interpolate silence freely throughout this p erformance. As an additional exploration of the solos, the performers may play through their solos again, this time incorporating an element from a performance partners solo, again while remaining as faithful as possible to the rules for their own solo. (4) If the ensemble wants to collaborate further, follow these steps to play the mandala score. Reassemble in an ensemble configuration and decide on a time length or temporal structure for this performance. The group is encouraged to create a time frame that is longer than any individual solo, to allow for repetition. Collaborate on devising a few key rules for playing the mandala, which the whole group will follow. Read the score as you would if you were performing it alone while accommodating the groups agr eed method. Improvise when you encounter something unfamiliar or unexpected in the group performance, experimenting with: i. The rules for performance that you devised independently. ii. The rules for performance that you devised collectively. iii. The texture, dynami cs, and immediacy of the performance unfolding around you. If the time length of the collective performance runs longer than your individual performance, go back and play the mandala again, this time taking a new approach. You are encouraged to use your pe rformance partners for support in this improvisatory exploration of the mandala. A question to ask yourself throughout How can I use performance, both scripted and improvised, to communicate with others?


90 APPENDIX C Participant Questionnaires


91 Mandala Music, Phase I Participant Question naire Name: Performance medium: Movement: I. Your experience prior to/during the decoding process a. What kinds of assumptions did you make about sub processes a c before working with them? Did working with sub process d change these assumptions? b. Describe what working within each sub process was like for you, and how they contributed to your realization of the score. c. Were the directions helpful or confusing? Was any information missing that would have helped to guide the process better? d. What difficulties d id you have with your mandala score? Did any of the information contained in the score seem unclear or contradictory? If so, how did you work through these obstacles? e. What parts of the mandala score were the simplest to decode and why? f. The questions foll owing the numbered directions are intended to be food for thought during the decoding process, but if you care to answer them here your response will be very illuminating and much appreciated. II. Your methods of performance Please describe in detail how you ultimately decoded the mandala score in your performance how the lines, shapes and colors all came to signify in your realization of them. Treat this section as if you were instructing someone how to play the mandala score your way. III. The performa nce itself Describe the experience of finally performing the mandala score for an audience (myself and the video camera). Id also like to know: Did any of your thinking about the score or your realization thereof change? As the performer, whats your rela tionship to the composer in the case of a piece such as this? How do you feel now about your self concept of being a performer?


92 Mandala Music, Phase II Participant Questionnaire Name: Performance medium: Movement: I. Your experience prior to/during t he collaboration process b. What kinds of assumptions did you make about collaborating with other performers before working with them? Did working the group change these assumptions? c. Describe what working within the group was like for you. d. Were the directions helpful or confusing? Was any information missing that would have helped to guide the process better? e. What difficulties did you have within the group? How did you collectively work through these obstacles? f. The questions following the numbered directions a re intended to be food for thought during the decoding process, but if you care to answer them here your response will be very illuminating and much appreciated. II. Your methods of performance Please describe in detail the key aspects that the group used to decode the mandala score in your performance. Treat this section as if you were instructing someone how to play the mandala score like your group did. III. The performance itself Describe the experience of finally performing the mandala score in a group. I d also like to know: Did any of your thinking about the score or its realization, individually and collectively, change? Were you able to play through the mandala more than once? If so, what new approach(es) did you take? Did you use your performance par tner(s) for support? If so, please elaborate on how they facilitated your new exploration. As the performer, whats your relationship to the composer in the case of a piece such as this? How do you feel now about your self concept of being a performer?


93 APPENDIX D Workshop Footage (DVD)

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94 Works Cited Anderson, Virginia. Well, It' s a Vertebrate ...: Performer Choice in Cardew' s Treatise. Journal of Musicological Research 25.3 (2006): 291 317. Brauen, Martin. External Mandala, Internal Mandala. Crossman, Sy lvie and Jean Pierre Barou. The Practice of the Mandala. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 35 46. Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism. Stuttgart: Arnoldische Art Publishers, 2009. Brooks, William. Competenza Maledetta: Seven Speeches for a Virtuoso Composer. Perspectives of New Music 18.2 (1980): 11 47. Cardew, Cornelius. Cornelius Cardew: A Reader Ed Edwin Prvost. Harlow, Essex: Copula, 2006. Crossman, Sylvie and Jean Pierre Barou. The Practice of the Mandala. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybroo k, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 29 33. Tibet: The Kalachakra Mandala or Wheel of Time. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 19 26. Dubinets, Elena. Between Mobility and Stability: Earle Browns Compositional Process. Contemporary Music Review 26.3 (2007): 409 26.

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95 Eco, Umberto. The Open Work. Trans. Anna Cancogni. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1 989. Evarts, John. The New Musical Notation: A Graphic Art? Leonardo 1.4 (1968): 405 12. Fincher, Susanne F. Creating Mandalas: for Insight, Healing, and Self Expression. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2010. Gresser, Clemens. Earle Brown' s Creative Am biguity' and Ideas of Co creatorship in Selected Works. Contemporary Music Review 26.3 (2007): 377 94. Jung, C. G. Mandala Symbolism. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973. Jung, C.G. and Aniela Jaff. Memories, D reams, Reflections. Trans. Richard and Clara Winston. London: Collins and Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963. Khanna, Madhu. Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Rochester, Ver.: Inner Traditions, 2003. Masquelier, Ys. The Mandala, a Symbol of the Psych e in the Life and Work of C. G. Jung. Crossman, Sylvie and Jean Pierre Barou. The Practice of the Mandala. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybrook, Conn .: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 70 76. Nicholls, David. Getting Rid of the Glue: The Music of the New York School. The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts. Steven Johnson, ed. New York: Routledge, 2002. 17 56.

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96 Oliveros, Pauline. Liner notes. Primordia l / Lift. CD. Deep Listening Publications: ASCAP, 2006. Software for People: Collected Writings 1963 80. Baltimore: Printed Editions, 1984. Rinpoche, Dagpo. How to Choose your Mandala. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 27. Sauer, Theresa. Notations 21. New York: Mark Batty Publisher, 2009. Turino, Thomas. Formulas and Improvisation in Participatory Music. Mu sical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society Gabriel Solis and Bruno Nettl, eds. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2009. 103 116. Zehnacker, Michel. Christian Variation: the Labyrinth. Tibetan Mandala: Art and Practice (The Wheel of Tim e). Sylvie Crossman and Jean Pierre Barou, eds. Trans. Rosetta Translations. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1995. 77 82.