Situated beyond ‘interpretation’, ‘hermeneutics’, and ‘aesthetics’, the Rasch series is part of wider research on what might be labelled ‘experimental performance practices’. Such practices offer a tangible mode of exposing musical works as multiplicities. On the contrary, if one sticks to a traditional image of work based upon the One (or Idea), one has necessarily to stick also to notions of ‘work concept’, interpretation, authenticity, fidelity to the composer’s intentions, and other highly prescriptive rules that originated in the nineteenth century. […]. What I mean is that every musical practice, every way of doing performance depends on, or is the direct result of, a specific ontological commitment. If one’s goal is the passive reproduction of a particular edition of a musical piece from the early nineteenth century, one is indeed better advised to remain within the ‘classical paradigm’, with all its associated practices of survey, discipline, and control. But if one is willing to expose the richness of the available materials that irradiate from that piece, one has to move towards new ontological accounts.
De Assis implies that the way one chooses to perform a piece depends on one’s conception of what a musical work is. The Rasch-series consisted of a superimposition of materials associated with Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana op.16, including music, texts, images and voices. By navigating the different layers of materials, the audience is always gaining new perspectives on the musical work being thematised in the performance. These shifting perspectives block the synthetic effort of the listeners as they attempt to encapsulate the piece in one comprehensive experience. As a result, the image of the work remains open. Kreisleriana cannot be defined as a particular musical work, but rather as a piece in a universe of ‘things’ associated with the idea of the work.
Rather than expanding the concept of the musical work to integrate different elements, Nicholas Cook likes to open up the musical score. Inspired by theatre and performance studies, Cook proposes to look at scores as scripts rather than as prescriptive documents. In theatre or film, scripts are unfinished by nature and completed by the many people involved in the production of a performance. That being so, scripts emphasise process and open-endedness, whereas a score tends to represent a fixed product or structure that performers are required to reproduce.
Whereas to think of a Mozart quartet as a ‘text’ is to construe it as a half-sonic, half-ideal object reproduced in performance, to think of it as a ‘script’ is to see it as choreographing a series of real-time, social interactions between players: a series of mutual acts of listening and communal gestures that enact a particular vision of human society […]Musical works underdetermine their performances, but to think of their notations as ‘scripts’ rather than ‘texts’ is not simply to think of them as being less detailed. (As I mentioned, performance routinely involves not playing what is notated as well as playing what is not notated; in this sense there is an incommensurability between the detail of notation and that of performance, so that notions of more or less are not entirely to the point.) Rather, it implies a reorientation of the relationship between notation and performance. The traditional model of musical transmission, borrowed from philology, is the stemma: a kind of family tree in which successive interpretations move vertically away from the composer’s original vision. The text, then, is the embodiment of this vision, and the traditional aim of source criticism is to ensure as close an alignment as possible between the two, just as the traditional aim of historically-informed performance is to translate the vision into sound […The] shift from seeing performance as the reproduction of texts to seeing it a cultural practice prompted by scripts results in the dissolving of any stable distinction between work and performance. (Cook 2001, n.p.)