Michael Nyman

Masterwork Samples

Masterwork Samples

Masterwork Samples

Audio Arts Cassette
1979

‘The Masterwork’ is a precisely structured performance sculpture for the theatre in four parts by Bruce McLean and Paul Richards. The work deals with the consequences after the unveiling of the ultimate architectural masterwork, a ‘model’ for society. This very large and complex visual/sound performance demonstrates some of our over systemised and absurdly designed modulated systems for living. The work represents a collaboration between four main disciplines: dance, dramatics, gymnastics and contemporary sound (music/dialogue/noises). Each discipline is utilised for its own unique qualities. The work is monumental, extravagant, prophetic, traditional, unpredictable, spontaneous, stylish, heroic, extreme, obscure and almost imperceivable in total.

The Music
The dramatic structure bears no necessary relation to the dramatic structure of ‘The Masterwork’ but has been built to provide a more or less satisfying format for exposing the materials and method of the score. In this exposition processes are truncated, short-circuited, accelerated or run continuously where later they may fragmented, but the short term juxtaposition of small segments of long-term processes is the guiding principle behind both ‘Masterwork’ Samples and the eventual score for ‘The Masterwork’ Award Winning Fish-knife.
In keeping with the structural constraints of the ‘Masterwork’ all the material of the score is derived from a simple 8-chord model: these 8 chords may be permutated, their qualities changed and substitutions and interpolations made.
The score also reflects ‘The Masterwork’s’ visual and physical concerns with hierarchies, layers and levels.
This is an edited recording of the first performance of ‘Masterwork’ Samples given by the Michael Nyman Band at Riverside Studios, London on 25th July 1979, with all the characteristics of live concert recording.
Readings from ‘The Masterwork’ were recorded at Riverside Studios, August 1979. ‘The Masterwork’ cassette was produced and edited by William Furlong.
World premiere of ‘The Masterwork’ Award Winning Fish-knife will take place at Riverside Studios, London, November 1979.

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