Getting ready…

I’ll be doing a solo set at Bitcoin Meets Art tomorrow (Saturday August 23rd) here in Stocholm. I’m posting a few tracks from my rehearsal. All recorded in Ecasound. The gear i’ll be using is (as always) my NSD WAV bass with the Glasser bow (German, of course), the magnificent Zoom B3 and my iPad Mini running Filtatron and Animoog. Please drop by if you can and tip 馃檪

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“Salo”

“Klaus Kinski”

“Rachel”

“June Blue”

As promised in response to the comment by jazztraveler, here’s a recording of my tune “June Blue” from the cruise ship last month. This piece is characterized by a long, near-ambient improvisation followed by a brief improvisation on the chord changes of the theme, an open one chord improv section and ending with the “A” section of the actual theme. The order of these sections changed every night. Sometimes the theme would be sandwiched between two long improvisations. Sometimes the theme would only be stated once at the end of a long improvisation and so on. The combinations of theme/improvisation are endless.

Dynamics…

As with all Music, dynamics play a very important role in improvised music. Dynamics can (and should) be used very effectively as a structural/organizational device. We’re not just talking about volume here.聽 Getting back to an earlier post on this blog, eleven aspects of improvisation are delineated. Each of these parameters can be dynamically modulated. In other words, one can vary the amount of any of the defined parameters one utilizes in a phrase, note or statement. This is to apply Braxton‘s eleventh (of the twelve types) “Gradient Formings” – the serialization of dynamics.

One very, very good illustration of this is the “Pulse Track” of Braxton’s Composition #108B. This graphic score may be freely applied to volume and/or pitch.

Braxton describes #108B as 鈥渁 series of possible curve line sounds or curve line dynamic changes鈥 (311), implying that the lines can indicate pitch and/or volume… – Graham Lock

 

Composition 108B Pulse Track

Another album…

Here’s an album that i’m featured on. It’s by the German saxophonist Biggi Vinkeloe. There is some really amazing music by some of the most inspired improvisors around. The entire album is available as a free download. Check it out 馃檪

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I have these ideas…

Improvised Music is what i do. I’ve been doing it a long time. During the
course of my journey, i’ve encountered many different methods of approaching the art of improvisation. Different architectonics. The results of these revelations are often labeled by the media as “Free Jazz“. Jazz rarely – if ever – has anything to do with the resulting Music. I’d like to share some of these manners of blueprinting and executing improvisations here in this blog. So, over the course of the next few posts, i hope to share some meaningful information about some of the methods i have used to solve the enigmatic questions that confront the improviser.

Anthony Braxton taught me a lot about strategy. His “Creative Orchestra
Music” (1976) was an important turning-point in my understanding of how group improvisations could be structured and directed. Prior to this, i had heard his “In The Tradition” recordings and “Five Pieces” (1975) as well as Albert Ayler’s work. Still, it was Braxton’s structuring and use of the orchestra on “Creative Orchestra Music” that opened my ears to the idea that there are more ways to realize group improvisations than just leaving a group of performers to forge ahead on their own. When i heard his “For Trio” (1978), the sky opened. This led me to have a closer look at his process. I discovered that Anthony had started the development of his approach by defining his “Twelve Language Types“. If you aren’t familiar with the “Twelve Language Types”, it’s a handy way that Anthony came up with to codify the twelve main language types that make up music. Once reduced to its constituent elements in this way, music could be plotted and executed. The point and advantage in this method is to obviate the contingency of running out of ideas or breaking the flow of an improvisation. While Braxton developed this technique for his solo performances, i found it very suited to group improvisations as well.

There are many different ways this method can be applied. As with most
everything, the best way to get a handle on it is to just experiment. Try
interpreting the symbols in different ways (backwards, inverted, etc). Assign different symbols to different registers, instruments, tempi, dynamics, etc. Believe me, these twelve – seemingly simple – symbols can go an incredibly long way.

If you’ve had any experience with Braxton’s Twelve Language Types or would like to discuss them, i’d love to hear from you here.

 

Braxton's Twelve Language Types

Braxton’s Twelve Language Types

So what shall we call it?

My friend and fellow musical explorer, Steve Buchannan, opened a can of worms in a discussion on this blog about the term “Free Jazz“. Yes, the term is misleading and has long outlived whatever limited usefulness it may have had.

Free Jazz was the name of an album by Ornette Coleman. Somehow, this album title became the de facto term used to describe all spirited improvisational music from the US – music that was often highly structured – hence not “free” and music that had nothing more to do with Jazz other than being performed on similar instruments as those sometimes used in Jazz bands of previous eras.

 

How did this happen?

I’ve spent most of my life as a so-called “Free Jazz musician”. One thing that i have discovered (and taken great delight in) is that this approach to music making is full of exhilarating and challenging structures, methodologies and processes. Far from Encyclopidia Britanica’s assertion:

“The main characteristic of free jazz is that there are no rules.”

So what do we replace the expression “Free Jazz” with?

Do we even need to identify the Music in this way at all?

Anthony Braxton has his Tri-Centric Musics. Pierre Schaeffer had Musique concr猫te. Maybe what we’re doing is simply Improvised Music and we should dispense with the convoluted term “Jazz”.

What do you think?

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