EIMC CONFERENCE DISCUSSION 2019
August 4, 2019, Garbicz, Poland. Selective transscript.
Participants: James Aylward (AU/NL), Roman Stolyar (RU), Ingeborg Poffet (CH), Jopo Poffet (CH), Marta-Liisa Talvet (EST), Roomet Jakapi (LI), Hans Tonino (NL), Peter Sterk (NL), Alvin Schwaar (CH), Matthias Rauh (CH), Norbert Zajac (DE), Iouri Grankin (UKR/DE), Tomomi Fukagawa (JAP), Brigitte Küpper (DE), Cornelia (Conny) Voss (DE), Max Stehle (DE), Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen (DK), Klaus Pernov (DK), Tine Hinrichsen (DK), Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen (DK), Adam "Izaak" Wasążnik (PL)
Carl [acting as a moderator]: I've noticed that in playing sessions we often talk in between. And this talking often has some meaning in relation to the music. Sometimes we like to comment what we are doing and put it into perspective. This might be practical and also extend into something philosophical. What was important to you, not in terms of evaluation, but in terms of artistic reflection?
THE ART OF COLLABORATION
Klaus: something that became pretty clear to me after this last session [Roman Stolyar: Parametric Improvisation] was the purity of the music - having an idea, expressing an idea, and stopping again. That's something I will take with me from this weekend. I have worked with parameters for a long time, but during these few days I became more aware of the good thing of stopping [slight laughter], also as a parent.
Brigitte: We just had a little talk besides the workshop - we sometimes forget the very tiny and basic things in music when we start to perform ourselves... we had these constellations in which everybody does not very much...
Carl: ... so you didn't have to work very hard because you worked - together?
HOW DEEP CAN COLLABORATION BECOME?
Max: I just had a conversation with Ingeborg about four people in Africa connecting by just sitting with each other... when I look bak at the stage we had together, for one I can feel that sitting together and playing together also created some kind of connection. But I also have the feeling that it still can be much deeper... honestly, I hardly had the feeling that we were playing music as one... there was always a lot of mental activity coming into it, making us separate. This is maybe something we can explore - sitting together in silence and then playing...sometimes it happens in groups I know, but thay have practised for five or six years... we can not make it, but we can support it.
Carl: I think there was glimpses of oneness and collective intuition - often, when it succeeds, we forget ourselves...
Klaus: there is an exercise I'd like to make, from Music for People, "One quality sound"... everybody stands tightly together and sings one single note with each breath and keep on doing that for five or ten minutes.
IS ONENESS ALWAYS A PARAMOUNT CONCERN?
Izaak: is it a common understanding that this collectiveness is something to seek for in intuitive music, or is it optional, like general aesthetic choices?
Ingeborg: in my opinion the feeling of being one body helps for telepathic communication... we [Ingeborg + Jopo Poffet] have been a hardcore group so many times - so even after some moments together you got the feeling, and that's why we get ideas at the same moment. When we first met, the practising room was occupied so we went to the bar to have a drink, but we stayed together and then went directly on stage... if you feel the other, you don't even have to do all the notes...
Izaak: but at what level do you consider this importance of the connection for performance. Is it your personal preference, your idea about intuitive music, or is it the entire philosophical idea, what's humanity is about, how it connects you to everything...
Matthias: For me this is a basic question of improvisation... both nemesis and empathy are important...games are between being together and being playful, I like that...
Izaak: I hoped to get to know [to Ingeborg] - do you consider connection as an all-human experience, waiting for it, as a general life rule, is it part of the art, or just part of your personal preference...
Carl: maybe not answering all of that, but improvisors like me like to meet and depart, to have one-time stands, shift and go places...that's both connecting and disconnecting, but we trust we can have good experiences with the next ones...
Brigitte: every encounter in every dimension is a very good experience
HOW TO HAVE A GOOD TIME AND MAKE THE MUSIC SUCCEED
Max: for me it's obvious if I can not connect with you you on one level, I have to become wider and how I connect with him might be on a different level than with you. So for me it's not about creating any image or kind of connectedness, it's that attitude of feeling out, sensing out, where is the possibility to connect deeper. When we connect like that, everybody is laughing and people that see us say "oh, you have a good time!".
Carl: whereever musical wonders happen, I feel very at home - maybe the main thing is the music. If we make bad music, a good connection doesn't really compensate [laughter]. And when good music really attracts me I think people are beautiful and feel good about the environments.
Brigitte: yeah - but I feel a little strange about these terms good and bad music.
Ingeborg: this is also something very personal - and what I like about this workshop that there are so many angles - how can I look at things... it makes you happy somehow because you understand more about yourself. The wonderful moments could happen at level one or two, not nescessarily the deeper ones.
Roman: in free improvisation we don't have scores nor styles as organising fators, so the only thing we have is our attention and ability to listen, to respond and to communicate with the others. So it's a minimal requirement for this music, but after that, some deeper themes apply.
Carl: but doesn't everybody have these abilities?
Roman: I have some experience playing playing with really selfish improvisors - once I was ignored 20 minutes on stage. Being a big star in improvised music is dangerous, it leads to isolation.
Klaus: instead of good and bad music I'd rather think of it as good or bad musical experience...
DIVERSITY OF EXPERIENCES
Ingeborg: ... not all participants has the same opinion on those experiences. And it is possible that you feel perfect while playing but not while listening afterwards, these experiences may agree or disagree, that's why we make recordings to find out, what we have done.
Brigitte: we do that in Cologne too and have experienced such difference, although agreements are also possible...
Max: but still I would like to work towards quality, even though we might never agree whether a specific piece has that quality or not. Still, I think, most of the time we would agree. There is music that just makes sense in the way it's done - it's just right. And I think more often than not, if you listen to that kind of music, you feel it. - One of our friends from Schwarm 13 says "this is intelligent music". I personally would more tend to see it in an emotional or pictural way, but I get completely what means by it. He says, "I don't have to feel a certain feeling to play it on my instrument". For me it's a kind of strange statement, but I can see how it works for him. So that's a place where we meet, and it helps a lot to share ideas and how we hear a certain piece to develop that sense, also a common sense.
Brigitte: yes, the tools can be different...
Max: our backgrounds are different, he has a lot of historical knowledge...
DIVERSITY INSIDE HUMAN BEINGS
Hans: why is feeling so important? I think every feeling is operated in our society, and that's why we have this new coming up of populism and I hate feelings in that sense (laughter). I would argue that intellect, thinking, arguing is a very good essence of also improvising music. When I play with other people I'm looking for a kind of flow...
Carl: of course, it's the whole of human beng that is being engaged, we cannot just separate it...
Max: feelings are overrated, thoughts are overrated, it all comes and goes, there is also, very important, the physical activity. But it is all passing by, and there is some other part of us that is kind of container for all these things.
WHAT IS INTUITION
Roomet: it's called "intuitive music" - what do we mean by intuition in this particular context?
Conny: in my understanding, intuition comes out of all the experience we ever had... I like about thie Conference, we just DO it, without thinking too much
Max: for me intuition is a sudden appearance - it may be a background for a big decision, it shows itself, it's not that I make it, it surprises. And in that term, one of the nicest things about all music is when it surprises us.
Ingeborg: the neurological answer is that intuitive is dominated by the right hemisphere which is activated by colours, pictures, graphics - with words it would be different. The question is: do we have to talk about it? [laughter...] Max you talked about quality - I just had the idea: let's stop talking, and do one piece of trash music and afterwards one of very high quality [laughter].
Roman: Misha Mengelberg once said to fellow players before going on stage: "the first twenty minutes, you should play complete garbage" [laughter].
James: in the term coined by Stockhausen, the idea is that it doesn't fall back on recognised styles, chord patterns etc...
Max:... Stockhausen said that improvisation is usually a variation of the known - he was aiming for to somehow unfold the unknown in the playing. I think this is similar to what I said about the value of being surprised before...
EMPTYNESS - THE MUSIC IS PLAYING YOU
Tomomi: if I play improvisation or intuitive music I feel kind of empty - it's not MY inspiration or my opinion. I'm waiting to catch something. This morning I listened to Carl and James and James asked me about the difference between the pieces resulting. I think, if you read the music you are not here, but concentrating on the music. If you do free improvisation, you are here.
Carl: so the music from reading was more impersonal?
Max: this morning I came down to the lake and listened to your playing there and had exactly the same feeling of what you said now - it was not you playing music, but the music was a part of this environment, lake, birds, insects, a guy cutting grass, and I felt this emptyness you talked about.
Roman: in most cases I feel like, it's not you playing music, it's the music playing you. Sometimes people ask me what I think about while playing - I don't think at all - there is no time and no way to think about the next step
Ingeborg: in a medical study of orchestral performance the conductor had a high testoterone level but that of the musicians was low - musicians empty themselves...
Roman: there was a medical study comparing jazz musicians, classical musicians and improvisors. Results showed that during improvisation, hidden areas of the brain begin to open.
Max: there were some American coaches who brought jazz improvisation to management of industry and exonomics to provide for better problem-solving. In our time of fast change, adapting doesn't work with a linear way of thinking...
A STRONG TOOL - BALANCING
Carl: we have 8 minutes left...
Jopo: Max, I think getting close to each other, besides being certainly a matter of time, relies on trust, to give each other space and support. Actually I feel close, because of all the experiences we made together. Maybe we are getting bored if we are too close, maybe we have to go out and make some nice meetings with other people. - We have a very strong tool in making free improvisation.
Hans: [to Max] ... with your description of intuition coming from the past, from what you train, hear, see, feel - you are right that intuition gives you directions for the future. It kind of automates some of your behaviour.
James: there is also one's approach to form in these improvisations - how we want to shape it, create some progression or keep it static, that interests me too. We have concentrated on the beautiful moments but no one really talks about this idea of the whole.
Peter: for me, it's all a matter of a balance of thinking, feeling, planning and just letting it go. In my workshop, I like to try out strict rules, being curious what comes out. But often the most interesting things things happen when you leave the rules. However, you can not have that moment without the rules.
Roman: so, breaking the rules - the last word! [laughter].Carl***
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