Graffiti composition: screenplay

Beresford, S., Butcher, J., Lovenes, P. and Marclay, C. 2005. Graffiti composition: screenplay. St. Luke’s, London 22 Mar 2005

CreatorsBeresford, S., Butcher, J., Lovenes, P. and Marclay, C.

Ongoing collaboration with Christian Marclay. ‘Graffiti Composition’ and ‘Screenplay’ are two related works consisting of live musical improvisation and performance. They are

part of an ongoing collaboration with the artist Christian Marclay.

'Graffiti Composition' involved Beresford directing an invited orchestra of improvising musicians. The work focuses on making

music from the random compositional acts of strangers. Prior to realization, Marclay fly-posted several hundred sheets of blank

manuscript paper, collecting the sheets some days later, after passers-by had written on them – using either traditional music

notation or more transgressive interference modes (colour-blocks, torn holes in or abstract graphic symbols on the paper) – and

sending photographs of them to Beresford. Beresford’s directorial decisions helped these random graffiti become music via

simple formal processes – restricting each musician to a handout of two MS each, or stipulating a mini-concerto for each player.

Beresford’s contribution explores the paradox of improvisation stipulated by strangers and controlled, however loosely, by the

structuring agency of a musical director.

‘Screenplay’ extended this collaborative process between Marclay and Beresford. Beresford and other musicians responding to

a visual track comprising found and public domain moving images manipulated by Marclay – gunfight scenes from a TV

Western; running water; racing cars morphing into crying children, and so on, in black-and-white, with single-colour blocks

appearing and developing as lines, spots, and other suggestive ‘notation’. The elliptical, surprising, humorous nature of the

images at times is hyperexplicated by the improvised music, and at others challenged, ignored or contradicted by the musicians’


‘Graffiti Composition’ was performed by the LSO at St. Luke’s, London, March 22, 2005. ‘Screenplay’ premiered in Dundee in

2006, and toured Europe during 2007. Reviewed in the Herald (21 Feb 06) and Times (24 March 07). Beresford’s work as

improviser, composer and performer was profiled in The Wire (April 2002, May 2005).

Year22 Mar 2005

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Beresford, S. 2012. Imaginary landscapes. Royal Albert Hall, London 17 August 2012

Beresford, S. 2011. Indeterminacy.

Beresford, S. 2009. Ephemera.

Forest of no return
Willner, H., Joines, G., Murphy, R., Allen, M., Bernstein, S., Beresford, S. and Newmark, A. 2007. Forest of no return.

Marclay, C., Butcher, J., Lovenes, P., Turner, R. and Beresford, S. 2007. Screenplay. Bush Hall, London 22 Nov 2007

Ray Davies and Friends
Beresford, S. 2007. Ray Davies and Friends. Roundhouse, London 28 Oct 2008

Simon H. Fell's 'Composition No. 75: Positions & Descriptions'
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Beresford, S. 2006. Introduction. in: Schwarz, B. (ed.) The sound of squirrel meals: the work of Lol Coxhill Hamburg, Germany Blackpress.

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Beresford, S., Akhtar, N., Spencer, N. and Wooding, J. 2003. Soundtrack to Bollywood Queen, film director Jeremy Wooding. Arclight Films.

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Beresford, S. and Newman, H. 2002. Whistle concert.

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