DIMC Conference Discussion 2005
Participants: Tim Summers, Eduardo SÚrgio, Tamaho Miyake, Daisuke Terauchi, Eckhard Weymann, Almut Kochan, Til Lawrence, Jutte Hoppe, Dario Garau Setzu, Mette Stig Nielsen, Henrik Rasmussen, Gerhard Pischinger, Audrey Rocher, Roland Devochelle, Peter Sterk, Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen.
Carl (acting as a moderator): it's always interesting to listen to improvisors' disagreements ... please tell me about the thoughts that occurred to you during playing sessions...
Tim: it's hard to know where we start, a recurring problem
Eduardo: improvising is composing in real time. It is difficult to make a hierachy of what is better or worse.
We had too short time before the concert to get to know each other to make something coherent.
Carl: does everybody agree?
Eckhard: one can have different opinions to this point. Vinko Globokar said, he wants to play only once with a person.
Eduardo: with two persons it is exactly so, with more it is different
Eckhard: Vinko Globokar said, whenever I play more times with a person or persons, I begin to compose, surprise disappears. He would have expectations next time. Maybe I'm in between.
Tim: when 12 other people it is still a relationship even if it is more foggy.
Almut: you know yourself very well and try to do what you know best. Today, everybody played what was familiar [note: the discussion was shortly after the Friday public concert]. In the development, there came more of a group thing.
Tim: If you walk around town with two people, it is slower than with one.
Eckhard: group travel is a good metaphor!
Carl: There's pleasure getting to know each other I think and also pleasure from being curious to meet new people. Else we would probably not be here!
Dario: it's a paradox we speak about improvisation, because it belongs to its context. It has not to do with composition.
Almut: to improvise is also a paradox because you have a plan to improvise.
Matte: I don't think there is such a sharp division - many jazz musicians do not agree.
Henrik (to Dario): how are you defining improvisation - is it something completely spontaneous, out-of-control, or can it have rules?
Daisuke: in case of composition we can control our music, in case of improvisation we can not. The consciousnessabout wanting to control is important. With improvisation, we have to listen and to read each player's intention.
Carl: Even though I certainly think that integrating composition and improvisation is very fine, they are different ways of thinking, they are bound to very different kinds of time-perception.
Henrik: I think improvisation demands very much discipline. Within a block of time you can be spontaneous, be aware, be all it takes to do it.
Eckhard: it's really a paradoxical work we are doing. I found myself nodding to everything you were saying, although it could be in opposition to each other, but they come together somehow. So we need the surprise, we need the unconscious moment in the improvisation, and I think that has to do something with the complexity of the process. If it is complex enough, and when you play with five or four people, it is always complex enough, then the complexity gives this lack of focus.
Tim: The methods used in composing should reflect to some degree the way which you remember in real time, even if they are more focused than you actually remember in real time. You want people to be able to perceive it when you are actually hearing it. And the structures you make to become an architect of that time probably have quite a bit to do with what you might do if you wanted to remember things just as you were playing.
Carl: I would like to say with John Cage that those processes are completely different and do not cover each other. I might have very different feelings from those of the composer and have very different pictures inside my head.
Gerhard: you have to distinguish between making a composition and playing it. It is only worth listening to when you are also doing like improvising at the same time. Music therapy Kenneth Bruscia said there are always some givens. It is the degree of givens that differ.
Carl: can you tell about some experiences of surprise during playing sessions?
Audrey: yes, else I would stop.
Carl: so you like permanent surprise?
Audrey: yes, life is permanent surprise.
Almut: I hear new colours from the others, I do not think I would play like I did without them.
Dario: composers who compose with an element of improvisation in an aleatoric way do not improvise. They deal with an unknown qualitet [aspect], like an X in mathematics.
Daisuke: what is quality for you?
Dario: something very personal
Daisuke: I think so too
Dario: improvisation is instinctive
Mette: of course I know you should be spontaneous, etc. But sometimes I think what I am playing is bad, so if I was not allowed to think, I could not improve it. I collect some existing chords and scales, some material.
Gerhard: this morning we tried an idea in different ways, including a very limited ostinato way... Audrey said something about that...
Audrey: Sometimes we feel like slaves and discover the freedom inside that. Sometimes we feel free and discover we are slaves.
Dario: a colleague told me, improvisation for him was like getting drunk, forgeting about technique. But when he listened to recordings he thought it was very similar to what he had done before.
Audrey: when I feel good about playing I do not think about good or bad. It is like accepting a person.
Henrik: this is elementary - a piano teacher might tell you that if you do not love what you are doing, it is no good.
Eckhard: good contact to what you are doing is giving a lively quality. But you do not just swim in the same water. You also look at what you are doing in a criticla way. You could swim with the others or against them. That is a more polyphonic attitude.
Mette: sometimes I feel people demand something from me, then I do nothing. When you have your lucky time you just feel inside a flow.
Daisuke: one interesting point is contradiction. I want to make good music. But I do not know what good music is. I think this is common to many of us.
Eduardo: Twenty years ago during study I worked with different improvisation teachers every day during a week. At the end of this week some students decided to make an improvising group together. We never talked about what we did, just played. After 14 sessions I said to them, now we are a group, and everybody agreed.
Carl: when talking about the playing there must be some descretion not to destroy music feeling. It is like lovers who must take care.
Eduardo: it takes time to discover the vocabularies of others, really time
Carl: if you said to them: this process was all about getting a comon repertoire, then someone might disagree and speak about some other aspect.
Audrey: I think Eduardo meant to discover the vocabulary of everybody, not to have a common one. All players are equal in this process.
Eduardo: no, I said for instance to the bassoonist: why do you play so close to what the clarinette does? He said it was because it was like that in the orchiestra.
Dario: when I work with students in piano improvisation, I show them several possibilities
Mette: I teach too. Circumstances are different. In my improvising group with colleagues we never discuss, just chat and have coffee and play. When I teach it is difficult, then I have to talk.
Carl: I think a concluding remark could be that language can have different functions when talking in relation to music!
This was made after the discussion as a collective answer (by 5 different people) to the question "what would good advice for improvisors be?"
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