Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thoughts on Improvisation (2): The 3rd dimension

As I continue my Thoughts on Improvisation, today I would like to start to put in words how I try not to be a "self-indulgent" improvisor  :)

Recently I was having a conversation with an artistic director of a prominent institution, who is said to be "friendly" towards improvisation.  However I sensed that, like most people in an established administrative positions, he would be more "comfortable" if a performer like me would comfortably fit myself wearing an "interpreter" hat playing "scored" or "composed" work put down on paper.   This is besides the point, but I think the "fear" among the establishment towards the free improvisation form comes from not really musically understanding what is happening, or one fears that he/she is listening to someone who is making random noise, thus hard to evaluate the performance/performer artistically.  And that is totally understandable.

At IRCAM in September during my exit talk, I said that I now need a "3 dimensional score", adding to what we have now, the two dimension one.  I need the 3rd dimension to describe the "wave" or the "flow" of the music, which moves 3D or maybe even 4D in space (I will talk about this "4th" later).  And this 3rd dimension, in any mode of performance whether it's classical or contemporary or even improvisation, is where the musical performance lies, and what audience is being presented to.  It is this 3rd dimension, the "musical flow" that the performer creates, "interpreting" what has been reduced to 2 dimension by the composer.  It is as if the performer is "re-inflating" the musical flow a composer has imagined, but then forced to shrink down to 2D in order to let others try to understand his/her music.

For me, free improvisation is performing directly in this 3rd dimensional mode, without the 1st and 2nd dimension, the written notes.  In another words, you don't need the specific notes, rhythm and timing spelled out, but directly express what is inside the 3rd dimension.

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