Wednesday, April 04, 2007

solo: primary territories

Given that my lexicon is so pared down, what do I do—what can I do—with, or within, it? I could atomize theses elements further, but I prefer to see these as regions in which I have a certain amount of mobility. Here again is where the language metaphor breaks down: to borrow (admittedly out of context) a term from Anthony Braxton, these three elements—harmonics, clusters, and ‘touch’ playing—are primary territories.
I can get a certain amount of movement within each territory. Natural harmonics can be, for example, melodic or rhythmic, concerned with intervalic color or timbre.


Clusters and ‘displaced’ clusters (pseudo-clusters which I’ll explore in more detail in future posts) can be approached, say, pianistically (à la Tippett), or more guitaristically (à la Frith).


Circular-breathing wind players (e.g. Parker, Mitchell) get incredible creative milage from constructing illusions of polyphony and lines that are impossibly long. And while, I admit, it’s strange to bring these tactics to bear on a polyphonic instrument that doesn’t need to breathe, two-hand ‘touch’ playing nonetheless gets me within, maybe, commuting distance of this neighborhood.
In addition, since, without radical techniques that are alien to me, I’ll never be able to deploy clusters to approach the complexity, density or noise-level (I’m not talking about loudness, you understand) of pianists like Taylor or Crispell, a variant of ‘touch’ playing is maybe as close as I can get.


But none of this gets me very far, certainly on stage. Time to perhaps renegotiate boundaries….

[BTW, the audio recordings were made quickly, so apologies for the quality (or lack there of).]


04-05-07: Use the XSPF Flash Player. Please let me know of any problems.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely facinating! The tension and discordance in the harmonics example reminds me of Adrian Belew's "Desire of the Rhino King" -- a spectacularly unsucessful album, in a commercial sense, but one that is rich with ideas and tones all strung together with Belew's wonderful sense of humor.

Loving your web site. Thanks for putting it together. -- Jack

the improvising guitarist said...

Jack, thanks for the kind words.
Outside of his work as sideman (e.g. with Zappa), Belew’s a player that I have to admit to not following closely…which is my failing—he (and others such as David Torn) seems to come from a vibrant tradition parallel to those that I am more familiar.
Thanks again for reading.

S, tig