Graphis No. 1-3 were later put into a calligraphic work, The Book of Doooo. I'm not sure which pages of the The Book of Doooo were used as Graphis notations, but I think I could figure out. They were drawn at Little Boar's Head, New Hampshire, the same day I finished the text of Stacked Deck, in August or September, 1958. I was annoyed by the idea of telling performers what to do, which penetrated even into Stacked Deck. So I decided to do diagrams, and leaver their interpretations free or, at least, secondary. The piece was premiered in the Winter of 1959 at the E-pít-o-me Coffee Shop by Lawrence Poons, Al Hansen, Jaimee Pugliese and myself, on the same program as some parts of Clown's Way, the cards that later became Some Quiet Chimneys, and The Calligraphic Tarot, which used the Tarot de Marseilles as a notation for performance. However, the three old Graphis pieces were put into the Book of Doooo (where they sort of disappear) and given to Poons on his marriage in 1961.
Graphis No. 2, 1958-59
Graphis no. 4 was done the same day as Graphis 1-3, and when Stacked Deck was finished. It was thought of as being for full orchestra of varying ensemble, to diverge from any center to maximum contrast, in tone, timbre, tempo, grouping, space, etc. The notation was the first of a number of extremely simple Graphis ideas, and consisted of two roughly drawn arrows - probably drawn with a felt tipped pen - heading out from a point. In contrast, this one had detailed instructions, probably about six pages. I'm not sure what happened to the package, but I think I gave it Al Hansen. In any case, I made a reconstruction in 1961.
Dick Higgins, Graphis No. 4,
Graphis Nos. 5-14, was, as a group, to be called Easter Music, though each individual Graphis could be played separately too. They were figured out or finished on Christmas Day 1958. As a camera study, later, I used them as copy - they lines were so thin it presented a challenge to make good offset negatives of them. And when I assembled them I changed the idea around and made them into Designs for Quite Empty Spaces, which was bought by Mary Bauermeister, the artist, at an auction in 1963. My negatives disappeared by a construction made by surprinting them was sent to Japan (along with others of the series) for the first (1962) general exhibition of graphic notations, at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo, organized by Kuniharu Akiyama and Toshi Ichiyanagi. There this constructions appears to have disappeared. At any rate it hasn't surfaced.
Graphis No. 15-17 were the first to use words. They were later incorporated in Clown's Way and published in Jefferson's Birthday. They were intended to be combined in any way to make a tragedy in three acts. Graphis 18 was an arbitrary set of circles and figure eights according to which a microphone was waved in front of a loudspeaker, producing a spectacular screeching feedback, which I called, for want of a better term, "foo's." I needed a word for this, because it was the standard sort of noise in my large work of the time. This particular notation was used to produce A Loud Symphony, of which a tape still exists. Oddly enough, the patterns (mostly descending crescents of sound, controlled by the centers of the curves) can be recognized as repeated melodies. The set was sent, together with other works of the time which I wish I still had (such as An Aviary, 1958), to Bruce Connor, the San Francisco artist and filmmaker who appears to have disappeared, and there is the possibility that some of these things he gave to La Monte Young, the composer. The form in which these loops existed was a stack of acetates. This was the first of the "compound" notations I made, in which the individual layers were not to be taken individually as works. This paralleled my idea at that time of compound instruments - instruments inside instruments, cued by them or activated by them. Pianos with bowed strings, saxophone mouthpieces inside flute bodies, oboe mouthpieces on flute bodies, radios activated by keyboards. I meant to do a lot with this but never got around to it. Still, it seemed important to me at the time.
Graphis Nos.19-22 (Piano music with Repeated Fragments) was as structure with sensible flexible contents but fixed amounts of time which, as it worked out, was never used or completed for its original purpose. Instead, it proved to be ideal for generating the durations, events and sequences of all materials in my play Saint Joan at Beaurevoir (1959), performed in March 1960 in the Players' Theater in New York. The notations used for Act III and Act II are in the archive of notations on which the John Cage book, Notations is based. Copies of the Act I and Act IV notations were sent to Japan for the Sogetsu Art Center exhibition mentioned earlier, and I have heard that Kuniharu Akiyama still has them. But my own copies have gone away.
Poster for Saint Joan at Beaurevoir at the Players Theater, NY (1960)
Graphis No. 23 may be the number of an unidentified Graphis notation in my files, since my notes do not show was No, 23 was. But my notation, which looks like something I would want to reject instantly, uses a mimeograph inking brush. This one must have been done in 1959, but I didn't acquire a mimeograph until May or June of 1960. So maybe these two can't be matched up, and there is a missing member of the Graphis series. Graphis No. 24 was first thought of as a piece for "foo's" and theremins, and must have been drawn in 1959. It is based on a witching symbol known to every child who plays with a compass, but the original version has disappeared. I think it was given to George Maciunas. However, a published version appeared in Edition Et No. 1 (1966) in Berlin. Graphis No. 25 (Photomusic, Spring 1959) consists of musical gestures, diagrams and notions, intended to be collaged into one inclusive whole. Many of the pieces in Clown's Way - not the portions used as Graphis 15-17 - were used as working materials in Photomusic.
Act 280 & 281 from Clown's Way (1959)
Graphis 26 (Spring 1959) is one of the earliest of my "blank structures," my name for work in which all aspects of the structure are implied in the work without any details of subject matter being explicitly given. A rough mimeo version is included in 100 Plays (New York 1961) the meme set of acting scripts I ran off and sent around. Graphis 27 (Drama for Rubber Stamp and Tragedians, Spring 1959) is an abstract expressionistic layering of impressions of a set of rubber stamps made up from my own musical handwriting of the standard symbols - clefs, notes, pedal marks, etc. It was sent to Japan for the 1962 Sogetsu Art Center exhibition. Graphis Nos. 28-57 (The Fourth of July Variations) were started on July 4th, 1959, and finished in time for performance in the concert at the end of the summer given by John Cage's class at the New School for Social Research in New York. The piece was to be performed by up to 29 performers using only unconventional vocal effects. The possible variations were worked over in very great detail, including slides written in as optionals when no transitions was possible, for instance. The score was either sent to Japan or bought by Mary Bauermeister at the auction. I would like very much to know where it might be, and would welcome clues from readers.
Graphis Nos. 58-63 are blank structures, printed in 100 Plays. They were done in 1959, using French curves which I still have, then traced onto mimeo stencils. No. 62 was done in Cologne in November 1962. Graphis No. 64 (Roadmap Music, October 1959) was a series of roadmap color separations given to me by Al Hansen, which I had contact printed, then worked out for performance, which never materialized. Since each weight of each color was on a different layer, I felt a normal music paper grid would be an appropriate overlay to make performance feasible. We premiered the piece with unorthodox instruments (for which it was not conceived) at a dinner of the New York Audiovisual Society, the same at which Hansen's first multi-projector piece was done. The piece and its formula were then given to Hansen. Graphis Nos. 65-71 (Time Notations) were drawn at the same time I was working on the textual realization of Saint Joan at Beaurevoir, as a relief from the cramped formality of using a ruler, throwing dice and typing. Each is intended to be performed at a specific time of day or of life, in the matter of certain Indian ragas (only more so). I must have the notations somewhere or other: they may have been misfiled, along with 58-63, since two of them, no 65 and no 71, are in 100 Plays, the last without its accompanying texts, which are calligraphic.
Graphis No. 72 (Process Notation) is only indirectly a Graphis, since it is actually a method of reading the movements of the body, in the format to which I have committed it, and m notation was to be a body, which I would then commit to be read. The sequence is determined by starting at the feet and rising to the head for a prescribed duration. Volume is determined by the angle at which one sees the notation - if he or she is facing the performer, he or she thunders. If the notation faces away from one, one plays - in silence. Whether or not one plays at all is determined by one's interest in the portion of the notation one's eyes are scanning. Clearly this would be simplified if the notation were nude, but this was an issue I was, at the time, not raising. In a simplified version I have used this procedure for conducting a large number of pieces by myself and others, such as Ben Patterson's [Paper Piece]. Graphis Nos. 73-76 (List Notations,1959) are the last for quite a while of the Graphis series pieces in which nature of the handwriting was important; they consist of lists of objects. Carmen, a list poem from 1961 (included in New Poems, a mimeo booklet I did that year), is a non-calligraphic version of No. 75 of the series. Graphis Nos. 77-81 (1960) are objects to be used as notations, each with a sample possible use. My String Quartet No. 2 is No. 81, for instance, a doll's arm which I found in the street, suspended in the Ari with a sharp spotlight behind it, so it's shadow could be read, The original was sent to Sogetsu Art Center in 1962. Fortunately, in 1966 I was walking down the same street where the original was found, and I found a second, identical to the first. So this one I still have. Graphis Nos. 82-87 are complex drama notations, pushing the conceptual limits of the series. All are in 100 Plays. No. 82 has been performed hither and yon, in the U.S., Sweden, and France, and was published with extensive notes in the Tulane Drama Review, Winter 1965. The original notation was done with white enamel on black polyethylene, which did not adhere well and has peeled off. What is left of it is in the attic of the building where the Something Else Press is located.
Graphis No. 88 is a choreographic procedure. A long (80 foot) piece of clothesline is flopped around on the stage. Dancers enters (perhaps on stilts) and follow the curves of the line, kicking it and changing it from time to time. Graphis No. 89 (Geometric Design for a Drama) is a very complex drawing on graph paper, representing quantitatively all the aspects I could think of which some drama might assume. Graphis Nos. 90-107 (Simple Designs for a Drama) is a series of index card notations, to be grouped in pairs ad lib during the performance, the first to determine what persona each performer (and there are any number of them) will assume, and the second what from his movement will assume, or his actions. The odd card out is "the old maid," which causes the performer to take other performers' cards. Graphis Nos. 108-112 (Structures for the Semidance Theater, February 1962) is a series based on strips of cloth I called "Taffeta Landscapes," about which, visually, the less aid the better. But for instance, Matti Haim did a fine performance of several in 1962.
Graphis No, 113 (Politico Music, April 1962) is a drawing of Fidel Castro, twenty by thirty feet. The performers move along the lines of the drawing without comment in slow file. Graphis Nos. 114-116 (Notations for Cinema and Brass, late 1961) is a set of drawings for performers to follow individually, either operating motion picture projectors of playing brass instruments, cueing them in density, intensity, speed, on or off. Graphis No. 117 (Sample) was made up because the shape of the lecture podium at Wiesbaden Germany where the first big Fluxus Festival took place, and where a performance of Graphis No. 82 was supposed to happen, made the performance an impossibility. So a new sampling (hence the title) was made of the idea in No. 82, which was published in Jefferson's Birthday.
Graphis No 118 is a simple, geometrical drawing, along the lines of which the performers travel with tiny tiny steps, diverting and the re-converging into a jam-up. No original manuscript or sketch ever existed - it was drawn on the floor of a giant baroque theater stage in Copenhagen in November 1962. Graphis No. 119 is a series of surprised squares, and goes with Graphis No.120 which is a series of surprinted circles. Together they form a duet of parallel movements. Graphis Nos.121-130 are silhouettes of 19th Century composers on graph papers, intended to provide a structure for performance and yet evoke the specific composer. Graphis 131 was performed for Charlotte Moorman's New York Festival of the Avant Garde at Judson Hall in the Summer of 1965, and consists of converging arrows, thus forming a counterpart to Graphis 4. A choreographic interpretation appears in [foew&ombwhnw}.
Dick Higgins, Graphis No. 131, 1961
Graphis Nos. 132-133 (Autumn 1965) is a series based on drawings similar to some of the experimental notations used in some 1959 piano pieces I never finished. Each is made axially symmetrical and must be perceptible as such. In July 1967, I made some print through versions using negatives of the notations as masks and other negatives of classified sections from newspapers as masters., which restated in performance texts used at Franconia College in the summer of 1967 and a performance at Expo '67 in Montreal which went over rather well. I then printed these up as a threaneedle pamphlet. (Note: these appear in "Some Graphis Mirrors" July 1967).
Dick Higgins, Graphis No. 132, (1965) in "Some Graphis Mirrors," (1967)
Graphis No. 134 (The Towers of Yessville) was a strange drawing with many Yesses, intended as a model for a performance on a mountainside. It was made in June 1967 and destroyed (by abandonment on a street where the trucks improved it greatly) in December 1968. Graphis Nos. 135-137 are pile-ups for textual performance made in June through August 1967. Graphis No. 138 (Irregular Structure, July 1967) is for use by violin and piano. Graphis No. 139 is a piece about which my notes read: "Sketch on Graph Paper (belongs to series with Nos. 140-141). But isn't good enough as yet." The original belongs to Marilyn Harris-Quarez. Graphis Nos. 140-141 are two geometric notations for large ensemble of verbal reciters. No. 140 is in the Archive of Notations built up by John Cage for the benefit of the Foundation for the Contemporary Performance Arts. No. 141 was executed with a full range of stock texts. Graphis 142 (An African Symphony, July 1967) was inspired by a very poor, coloristic work by a very fine Hollywood film composer, Alex North, who with huge resources and many percussionists, some using native instruments, still managed to sound more like the Stage Delicatessan than the beloved Kasongo Bar at Kindu. I used a map of Africa (ca 1770, when Biafra was listed, though not Nigeria, as a major nation), and a diagram over it, with an appropriate system to make for a sophisticated African structure. I later heard some Kufite music from Ethiopia which sounded just like the chamber music version of my big ensemble piece.
Graphis No.143 (Softly for Orchestra) and No.144 (Wipeout for Orchestra) came along more or less together. In July 1967, as a stage toward making another work, I held up a transparent positive of a sheet of music paper I had been working on, and noticed, once again, how whatever was behind it could be treated as musical notation. Looking at the bricks of my darkroom wall through the colossal orchestra (52 stave?) paper I had designed for another project, I conceived of a work (Graphis No.144) based on this transparency to be very soft, always. And also I had just seen The Endless Summer, the surfing movie, which I loved and which suggested the idea of a Wipeout for Orchestra - purely instrumental per my music paper but thunderously loud throughout and with a gigantic crescendo and glissando diagram behind it. Graphis No. 145 was a simple diagram made for Chicago (after the style of Graphis No. 82) for the opening of the museum for the Contemporary Arts, which sponsored a performance at the then-Hippy Second City. This was in October, 1967. For Graphis No. 146 (Chair Frais - for Marilyn) the shape of a chair was traced onto a piece of the colossal music paper described in Graphis No. 143, to make a pun from a line in a half-French, half-English poem written by the Marilyn of so many pieces in [foew&ombwhnw]. She may best be visualized by the reader as a very gracious girl who graduated Bennington, helped run the Galerie Sonnabend in Paris, knew many artists, returned to the U.S., worked for the Something Else Press, knew many artists, went back to France to get married, returned to the U.S. again, took a chemical exit from responsibilities, made us fire her, went to France again, came back alone after the May uprising, and lives int he smoke of...Well to me she was the 1960s, not a bad time (in fact a rather rich one for the arts) but not a good one, at least socially. And so it isn't fair to make [foew&ombwhnw] without acknowledging, Ave ate vale, Marilina. - November, 1968
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