Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Jazz Education

A very quick post to point people to my Jazz Education survey (or questionnaire). I'm writing a paper on jazz education which has to be ready for the end of August. One thing that seemed important was to get a few results and information from other people about their learning experiences. I decided to make an online survey, which you'll see below. Obviously its not completely perfect and doesn't really leave much leeway when answering the questions. One musician - quite rightly - pointed out that yes or no was a bit to restrictive for some of the questions. However, unfortunately the way the survey is built it's difficult to do it any other way without making people really spend a lot of time on the questions. The idea that people leave their addresses tried to cover this 'hole' in the survey as I can contact individual people to ask them more detailed questions.

If you're a musician and have been working in improvised music please take a look at my survey as it will be very useful for having some sort of figures to present to the university - even if they are not stricktly controlled, it does give some sort of general idea of musicians experiences in teaching, or learning about improvisation via education (or not).

Please take a look at the survey here. If you have other musician friends around please don't hesitate to pass on the link (or survey) ..... I'd be most grateful!

I should add that the questions (see the comments section below) are very 'general' due in part to the format which makes them a bit restrictive. I could have made them much more 'write what you think' style, but I was worried that people may find that too time consuming. Unfortunately I was wrong, but it is a little late to change after so many people have answered the survey - very thoroughly. Please feel free to contact me directly - here - if you'd like to help me get some more in depth information. Thanks!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Solos Number 1: sax solo

A new project that I'm starting to work on is called "Solos". In reality its a slightly pointless project because I'm imagine that:  
-   a) I won't be able to sell it 
-   b) I won't be able to perform it live!
But what the hell, why not make music that you find interesting, and hope that someone else will as well. Naturally the non-performable aspect is a little bit of a problem, but maybe eventually I can work around that?

The project is going to be a series of simple improvised solos that are then transformed with acousmatic elements, some sound transformations using Spear and Pure Data, and of course cutting and editing on my Logic program. All this should come together to form an albums worth of material all based on solos. I haven't yet decided if it's always going to be my saxophone or clarinet that I'll be using. I had wondered if I could ask different performers to record a simple piece which I then work on - a piano piece, another saxophonist, a trumpet, a violin etc. All things to think about in the future.    

Here's the first idea which I've been working on. It has a working title, surprise, surprise of Solos Number 1: sax solo. I haven't decided if it's a finished piece yet, but one way of trying things out is by taking the work out of the garage and letting it sit for awhile. This way one gets a better look - or listen - at it from a distance. How does it stand the test of time? Who knows, and will it inspire me to continue onto something else (the next solo)? Will it ever be on an album, or maybe it will just sit around on my hard disc for the next few years!  

Solos: Number 1 by joehigham

:::::: Solos Number Two is already under-way!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

L'âne il fait "Hi Han", and Sound Language

Here's my first post since a good few months! I've been back at university for the past year working on a MA in musicology. Many people have asked what can you do with a MA in musicology, and the answer is .... not much really. Or to be more truthful it's more that there's no such job as 'musicologist'. One could work in a museum or teach music from a historical perspective, and of course there's various other 'musicological' posts out there in research areas, or educational functions within organisations. However, all is not based around what job you hope to get with your diploma, there are other interesting stuff which can be developed, or discovered, whilst learning and working at the university (UCL - Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium in my case).

One course in particular has been very enlightening called 'Langage Sonore' (language of sound OR sound language even). This course discusses 'what' sound can be, trying to define it in different cultures such as oral culture and written culture, how it differs and in what ways. It's also dealing with people like Murray Schafer, Pierre Levy, Ivan Fonagy, Jean Piaget and Charles Sanders Peirce whom have all influenced our understanding, in some way, in which we understand sound, speech and music. What is sound, what is music, archaeoacoustics, what is noise, the way our society reacts to sound and music, how children learn language, how they react to music, and many other ideas. I could (and maybe will) write a long blog article on this subject, but for the moment I'll just leave it at that.

Furthermore what made the course particularly interesting was the possibility to work with recordings. One of the projects was the development of a short recorded idea, seeing what could be done with it but in a defined way - using some small rules to produce a piece of sound/music. I decided to keep my piece particularly simple so as not to get bogged down in my soundscapes or various editing techniques. The piece I produced is called L'âne il fait "hi han" (the donkey goes HeHaw) and is made up of 5 people reading from a children's book called 'Le livre des bruits', everyone read the same ten pages at their own speed. Oddly enough everybody read - without knowing it - the material in the same amount of time (44 seconds), except my daughter who spent a few seconds extra on each animals noise. The piece is built in sections of 4 bars + 2 extra bars each time eventually leading to the 10 pages being read in one go. Listen to the piece and you'll understand better the process.

L'âne il fait "Hi Han!" by joehigham

A few things that were interesting - I thought - was that everybody, without knowing about it, took 44 seconds to read their pages, except my daughter who took 58 seconds. This meant that by simply placing the readings together it already produced a sort of rhythm of its own. The other nice effect (if you listen with headphones) is that you'll notice a sort of 'thud' in the rhythm of the reading, which is the people turning the pages.

All that remains is to re-work the piece by taking a more acousmatic approach and introducing many more rules and possibilities into the piece. In its present state it's quite a simplistic piece, but that's also maybe its charm also. I'll be trying this in the next few weeks and naturally will be posting it back here (via my Soundcloud page). 
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