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The Hard Work

Today I’m learning about the hard work of improvisation. I have been immersed in it for 3 days now, more than is usual for me. And the more I sit and listen and analyze what I hear, the more difficult it becomes to create something new without forcing something. I think it’s the same for everyone; we’re all wearing a bit thin….

Not a very good picture but a greg building!

This morning JL talked about rhythm and combining different rhythms and rhythmic relationships. Yesterday I played first, and it was a joy. This morning I didn’t play until last, so lots of music had been played by the time I had to join a group with another cellist and 2 basses. And it was a difficult quartet, with nobody really taking a lead, except for me, which is where I didn’t want to be! The first piece I tried to create an atmosphere (which I “thought” would be a different sound than we had heard so far in the day.) My idea didn’t seem to take on any steam, and I was kind of stuck trying to force things, and then it ended! “Ne pense pas!” she cried! “It is too sad”, “there was no joy, no life!” All true I guess, sorta. Trying to make something doesn’t work I’m finding.  The second piece she liked, but I was not pleased with it, again I was left in the melodic role, where I didn’t have the energy to be and playing material I didn’t care for, but was stuck with!

So the work continues: How to instigate without risk? Impossible. How to create a new global sound without prior discussion with the band? Difficult, but not impossible. How to pull something out of my heart when the ears are overflowing? Whew!

As JL says “Improvisation is a great responsibility”!

This afternoon was a bit more laid back. We are admitting our weariness, certainly JL did. And I sure feel it!

This afternoon she talked about the concert I missed, (due to dropping from exhaustion and getting the start-time wrong) which was a clarinetist playing solo using a lot of alternate techniques and sound/noise. She hates that: It’s not human enough, not heart-felt, it was too “conceptual”. I think some of my fellow stagiares liked it though….

Then she talked about the roles of instruments in improvisation. If I’m correct I think she takes from the jazz world the belief that bass and drums should provide the rhythm (which she feels is essential especially in large group formations). I’m not sure I agree, I think any instrument can be a “bass” or “drum”. But she feels rhythm is the nature of those instruments.

The concert Wedesaday night was very interesting, held at a big rock club in the suburbs, we took a special shuttle bus from centre ville there, a 20 minute drive. The first band was from France and Sweden, called The  New Song. They play jangly pieces with depressing lyrics, all sort of in the same timbre and volume. A little lke Bjork for a minute or to, and then back to twangy guitars! He came JL and Vincent Cortois, a cellist. This concert was quite amazing Cortois was a solid player with classical chops and a melodic attitude. They seemed to play as two intersecting islands, only occasionally intersecting but always with great affect. I felt like their communication improved as the show went on and Joelle got more and more theatrical, singing, talking, making gestures. Almost clown-like. But it made sense, she was in the moment and being herself! I believe she practices what she preaches, and that’s what I told her this morning!

Aug 25, 2011 at 20:41

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