The first time I attended a lecture by Richard Barrett, he talked about performance and improvisation. It was one of the few topics I could perhaps say I knew something about, and had thought about previously. I liked his analogies and philosophies behind it. Improvisation is like an instantaneous form of composition. One that needs to have a presence within the moment. To open your ears and understand what could be put in the mix or what to leave out. What extra sound is important at that moment? But also, does it HAVE to be important or can it be extraneous? Can you sit back and trust others to ride the wave or do you play continuously over the top of things? Dynamically and texturally, can you push something forward or let the energy seep away? When do you become the leader and when do you allow submissiveness persay? At what point do you know when to let the music go and to finish a piece of music? When you have a multiple band of improvising musicians it can be difficult to read people’s actions/sounds, and what they might be thinking at that point and next.
He mentions an ensemble towards the end of the first lecture and to see how many people are interested. Quite a few it seemed. I was pretty thrilled to know that there would be performances at the Sonology concert series, which happens throughout the year. After these early weeks of listening and jotting down new theories and ideas to research, the prospect of just playing was very agreeable.
The first concert was 28th November. It quickly became apparent that rehearsals were to be fast and economical. Two days before, the first set up in the varesezaal room took quite a bit of time. Eight people or so with different set ups. Once set up we worked through playing together in different ways: small interjections and usage of silence in equal measures. Listening exercises etc and how to play extremely quietly. The day of the concert was good fun. Soundchecking and playing on a lovely big stage was a plus. The night itself was really interesting; a mixture of folk from the BA, MA and the one year course all doing fixed media pieces for numerous number of speakers. It was an experience of being in a dark but beautiful hall and closing your eyes letting the music wash over you. Or listening with intent. Whichever. Our performance at the end of the concert was 20 minutes long and it was a lot of fun.