The Great Learning album cover
The Great Learning

Cornelius Cardew , The Scratch Orchestra

1971 - 1982
Deutsche Grammophon

Formed by Cardew, along with fellow composers Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton, The Scratch Orchestra was a large-scale collective that worked from graphic scores and embraced the possibilities of improvisation; they were also, at least in part, politically engaged, forming a Scratch Ideology Group in the early seventies to further their studies of socialist texts. Works like The Great Learning enact their collectivist politics at the level of sound – on the a-side, great masses of chorus voices sailing out across rumbling, plosive drums; the b-side resolves to something calmer, and those massed voices skirl and bob around in a sea of sound. Somewhere in there, you might hear the formative rumblings of folks as diverse as David Jackman of Organum, or Brian Eno.

Jon Dale

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