I was sitting in a cafe with a few friends and we ended up talking about how “just making it up” was often used as qualifier when talking about shitty music. Like seeing someone perform, it sucking, and thinking “it sounds like they’re just making it up”. I couldn’t completely disagree with this, as I have heard my fair share of shitty improv. But after seeing a close friend (Richard Craig) give a talk about performing with flute/feedback, and how adaptive/reactive he has to be, I couldn’t help but think that this was also a way to describe the sublime in performance. That shimmer/glimmer of transcendence. “Making things up” means it fucking sucks, or touching god. The stuff in the middle is composition.
Improvising is a big part of what I do, as a performer (whatever that means), composer (whatever that means), and just about everything else. And as such, I’ve thought a lot about improvisation, specifically things that I don’t like about it, in my performance as well as in others’. Many of these [shitty improv] tropes have inspired me to find ways to overcome them. Sometimes just being aware of the trope is enough to avoid it, but other times it’s taken a more deliberate reprogramming. What follows are a bunch of the tropes/ideas/problems and, where applicable, what I’ve done in order to overcome them.
Table of Contents
It started with a simple question: “Why compose at all?”
At the time I was working on what would later become iminlovewithanothergirl.com and was trying to figure out how to deal with composing for myself as an improvising solo performer using a new/invented instrument which is difficult to reproducibly control. This marked a big shift in my compositional thinking. I began moving away from precomposing discrete gestures and started focusing on pure improvisation. I carried on this line of thinking through multiple compositions and projects over the next three years and eventually produced a framework for thinking about improvisation – making decisions in time.
-makes music and art
-lives in Madrid/Manchester
-is a crazy person
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and Making Things,
sitting in a tree :
- 5 May: Student Performance - York