Freitag, 19. Juli 2013

Actions within a musical field - an open collection

In a workshop by Heike Kuhlmann and Gesine Daniels on contact improvisation and gender I got to know the 'Underscore', a collection of options of individual and collective behaviour shown at contact contact jams that was started by Nancy Stark-Smith. To label these options raises the awareness and so widens the scope of possibilities.

As we are looking for structures to apply to collective musical improvisation, Jennie Zimmermann and I decided to start a collection of musical behaviour and work with it. I´m looking forward to using this as a tool with a group of performers in our lab.

Lab: sound, body and rhythm

This week saw the premier of the ongoing lab to explore sound, body and rhythm. Two hours devoted to come together and experience and share that Jennie Zimmermann and me will offer twice a month from now on.

Working together as a duo, we both realised that many of our musical ideas go beyond the constellation of two people and are aimed towards a group of people.

This is our invitation:

We are creating a space to focus on sound and body, dance and sensual experience.

Inbetween minimalist cyclic musical structures, delicate dissonances, harmonies and grooves which combine monotony and variety we like to find listening and communication that unites us as a group while offering a space to express individuality through music and dance.

For the lab we offer structures and ideas and a warm up based on voice work, overtone singing and contact improvisation techniques.

We have a longing for experiences of communal sensual intensity and are looking forward to open-minded, critical and enthusiastic folks to share with us.

The open minded, critical and enthusiastic folks have graced us with their presence and together we explored some very basic aspects of rhythm:

Rhythm is based on a series of impulses, that are perceived as seperated entities, but for these impulses to form a rhythm they must be grouped together to one continuous entity. So there is a paradox mixture of discontinuity and continuity that is essential to the nature of rhythmic phenomena. Operational modes of the mind that are normally exclusive to another must be combined for the perception and execution of rhythm. German philosopher Simone Mahrenholz elaborates these aspects in her essay 'Oszillation zwischen Inkomensurablem' (Geteilte Zeit. Zur Kritik des Rhythmus in den Künsten, Hrsg.: Patrick Primavesi und Simone Mahrenholz).

We examined these ideas by using different modes of bodily movement, stepping on the wooden floor or causing clearly audible distict impulses, or rolling around in a fluid movement, while using these different qualities as an inspiration for vocal sounds and singing.

I already knew very well that I like rhythmical situations that create tension and friction and that I love to improvise with performers with whom that is possible, yet it was very interesting to focus on the social aspect of this: coming together with differing positions and withstand and cherish the friction these differences are causing.

I´m looking forward to the next lab, which will be on August the 1st.

Mittwoch, 17. Juli 2013

Composing with patterns 1 - achieving complexity within a minimal scope

The usage of short motivs is a central feature of my style of composing music. I will share some thoughts on this in a loose series.

Around 1990 the father of a friend handed me a tape of south african Xhosa music. One track on this tape consited of a rhythm beaten on some kind of metal device. The sound was raw and cheap, giving me the impression it was a dustbin lid. That particular rhythm consisted of two or three tone colours, that were played in a short pattern without variation. A very limited range of expression, but: I was not able to get grips on that rhythm, it was beyond my analytical capacity and that thrilled me. The underlying principle - in my interpretation - was to make up something quiet complex and elaborate by combining very few elements. This has become an important aspect of my approach to composing music. Some of my guitar parts for Blotch reflect that, for example `Rigidur´.

Das Pattern beginnt 2:19.

The whole guitar part consists of three notes, but most of the time I only play two of them, or, more precise, the variation of one note, because it is an octave. The pattern is definitely not interesting for it´s tonal aspects, but rhythm is it. In `Rigidur´ it´s function is to be a complementary part to the guitar part of my colleague Michael Hauck. Before weaving it into this composition, I had already arranged it as a central motiv in this electronic sketch:

Two more tracks build around complex two-note-patterns are next. Both are sketches realised in ableton live to be played by a live band, but they have some cold charme in these stripped down electronic versions:

Haeree and Decrule share some features in addition two the usage of only two notes for the central motiv. Only a minimum of musical material is used for all parts, no variations, just exact repetitions. Both aspects are in line with the aproach described above and show my interest in minimal music and techno. Repetition without variation has some resemblance to a ritual that is performed in a mechanical way, rather than personal expression. Circling, dwelling upon a single moment, the only element of change being the parts starting or stopping, and, in the case of Decrule, the harmonic progression in the end.

Mittwoch, 3. Juli 2013