Monday, 28 June 2010

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Rite of Spring - is back again?

The other day I got the feeling that I understood just what it must been like to hear the Rite of Spring for the very first time, even if only for a few minutes. I was following up musicians names via the links page of an up and coming saxophonist. What was most interesting was the amount of 'naive' musicians that I came across.  Naive music is for me a type of music that pertains to be something intellectually highbrow and often rather apart from popular culture (*). The music is often of an improvised nature enabling the musician to play very simple (almost childlike) melodies or sounds, together with other musicians working in the same direction.

What is a naive (**) musician you may ask? Like naive painters, naive music have been developing in different styles over the past 30 years or so, in part due to the digital revolution and the use of various electronics. One of the earliest 'modern' examples I think of is Brian Eno. Eno came out of the shadow of Roxy Music as someone who manipulated sound, with (in those days) simple synthesizers and various keyboards. What (for me) makes Eno a naive musician is his very simple approach to music, but one should add, an often complex concept or project. Albums such as No Pussyfooting (***),  Discreet Music, Music For Airports, etc, showed the way that Eno could work in an almost 'art school' way, taking a simple concept and developing it.

Of course the music itself (or the concept) is very structered, but the music is often almost simplistic. Of course Ornette Coleman showed how it was possible to work with non musicians and still produce music on Empty Foxhole (and later Ornette at 12). This was an album made with his son aged 10 who had been learning the drums for 2 years. Ornette showed how Denardo (his son) played without pre-judged ideas, due to his young age and of course 'limited' technique. This was an interesting decision to make, especially when taking into account drummers such as Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell whom Ornette had worked with previously. But how does this relate to more recent developments in jazz and improvised music and of course why does this remind me of the Rite of Spring and the reaction the general public took to this music? As I mentioned earlier much of the music I found that was linked with the website of ..... was often very naive and simplistic. In some cases I knew/know the musicians/people personally and know that these people are almost unable to play their instruments - in the traditional sense of the word. What's more interesting is the fact that many of these groups are made up of very high grade musicians and (almost) non musicians. What's also fascinating is that some of these groups are able to play worldwide, in festivals and clubs alike.

Where is this music (style) taking us?

I'll carry on this 'rant' in The Rite of Spring Pt 2 where I'll try to look at some of the ways in which we seem to have lost, or are losing our ability to listen to and appreciate music for what it is ...... coming shortly!

(*) = Pop and folk music can often be simple, but not naive by intention. However naive music seems to be linked with some folk cultures and improvisation.
(**) = I can think of early exponents of naive musical styles. But often the earlier musicians tended to be classical composers who were interested in fusing styles and boundaries. Their music could be quite sophisticated in a naive way. Examples could include : Moondog, & Harry Partch to name just two examples.
(***) = Fun MySpace review.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Open Source - Improvisations

Open Source is a group of musicians who get together to make improvised sessions on a regular basis. The idea being to make a kind of 'freely improvised melodic' improvisation ... if that's not too pretentious! After putting them up on Soundcloud a few days ago I thought, 'why not put them up here also?'  The recordings are very low-fi recordings made on a hand held recorder, but I thought the results interesting, and of course especially for those interested in 'free impro' music. At the same time I also thought that maybe it can be a good idea to put up 'work in progress' as to hear what musicians are trying out (in private) can sometimes be very interesting, especially when they know that some of what they enjoy playing can be difficult to find paid concerts where they can play that music.

Some of the improvisations are very long, but that's just the way it happened - I probably played too much, but well warts and all is sometimes more interesting! I may put up a few more things as they come along as we - the group - get together on a regular basis to just 'improvise'.  

I hope to add more people to these sessions in the coming months so as to get two drummers, or bass players and maybe other instruments also.

The members of the group are - Joe Higham (reeds), Augusto Pirodda (pno), Hugo Antunez (bass), Antonio Pisano (drms).

 Open Source #1 by joehigham

 Open Source #3 by joehigham

:::: A footnote to these recordings added 8th September 2010 ::::

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the music on this blog post had been listened to more than once (*)! I noticed (on the last time I checked) that #1 was listened to 11 times, #2 has 7 plays, but #3 has 35 plays ..... which is nice to see. I'll be interested to follow up these once again in a few months, however i hope to make a more 'serious' recording with this group in the next months also.

Oh, by the way, my own feeling is that the OS #1 and #3 are the most interesting.

(*) = Who knows if they were listened to entirely.
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