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Re: Digest Number 453

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  • Silt Paribas
    ... What I ve always appreciated about free-improv is that it undermines and doesn t need to play up to or legitimize itself as a craft, as science, in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 1999
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      >>"I dunno, I'd have to agree with Joel that the very premise of a handful
      >>of the most feted stars of new electronic music taking a dilettante's
      >>whirl at improvisation is arrogant and distasteful. Most of the accounts
      >>of the show seem to bely that improv (free or otherwise) is a craft that
      >>you have to practice at (a lot) to be any good at; otherwise you end up
      >>hitting your mark purely by chance."

      What I've always appreciated about free-improv is that it undermines and
      doesn't need to play up to or legitimize itself as a craft, as science, in
      the face of a hierarchical musical establishment that considers 'should
      pianists perform with or without the score' to be a vexing and vital
      question; that what really irks and threatens people about free-improv is
      that by definition, anyone can in fact do it. Granted I tend to appreciate
      it in some more than others, notice that some people are thinking more than
      others--but a priori, I don't care about your credentials, or give value to
      a model that equates how much time you've spent woodshedding and who you've
      performed with to how worthy your noise is. I could give a rat's ass,
      outside of context anyway, whether or not someone can play a blues with
      discrete, attractive phrasing around the cycle of fifths, riffing on a given
      recorded Coltrane solo in eight bars. Neither am I more impressed with a
      noise artist because in his program it notes that he's studied composition
      at Berkeley and was a Messiaen scholar--very like saying Rothko's late work
      was worthy of appreciation because we've unearthed some school-age charcoal
      still-lives that show he had the skill to pastiche Vermeer.
      I guess my point in reaction to the statement above is that
      * Free-improv is not a genre or craft with a syntax to be mastered.
      That having been said, I would probably share your cynicism before-hand if
      what I was to hear was indeed a "dilettante's whirl at improvisation"...but
      I think what's necessary for successful free-improv tends to be more akin to
      'disposition' and 'sensitivity' rather than muscle, ear, & chop-training
      usually associated with scholastic jazz & post-jazz improv.
      Maybe you're not arguing that.
      Shannon Fields
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