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Re: One (possibly) Redeeming Quality of Solo Looping (wasImprovisation Ears)

At 11:09 PM +0100 2/27/05, Per Boysen wrote:
>On Feb 27, 2005, at 22:29, Emile Tobenfeld (a.k.a Dr. T) wrote:
>>My music tends to involve setting up a bunch of simultaneous 
>>complex processes and then interacting with them. There is too much 
>>going on for me to be in  control of each process simultaneously -- 
>>so my 'big ears' (such as they are) need to be applied selectively 
>>to determine which process can use my attention., which can be let 
>>alone, and which has warn out its welcome and need to be stopped or 
>>muted. This is a lot easier in a solo situation.
>I like to think about human perception of music as "gestures". No 
>matter the amount of instruments, musicians or looping effect boxes 
>involved - my favorite number of "gestures" is three! In music I 
>like to listen to and play there is optimally three simultaneous 
>gestures going on at the same time. On such gesture can be made up 
>by tremendously complex details of sound, but I don't listen to the 
>complexity at all when improvising. I listen to the gesture and let 
>it accompany my own gestures.
>This gives that the perfect group for playing free improvisation is 
>three musicians. When you are part of  an improvising trio you can 
>pretty much play things that differs from what the other play and it 
>will still come out as meaningful music. As soon as there are more 
>musicians you have to start looking for gestures in music that is 
>not "the noise created by a singular musicians", i.e. musicians have 
>to form cells within the group sound and such a cell should harness 
>the same gesture.

In terms of the ideal size group for free improvisation, I agree that 
3 is a magic number. 3 different voices gives variety and avoids the 
(often interesting, but also often self- conscious) exposure of a 
duet or solo. At the same time, it is few enough to avoid the 
'everywhere dense' (to take a math term out of context) feeling 
unless one of the players consciously chooses density. With more than 
3, unless the players consciously restrain themselves, the music 
often stays too dense for too long for my tastes.

Perhaps this agreeing about 3 gestures being an optimum number -- 
though it depends partly on the definition of gesture. (E.g. in a 
jazz quartet, say piano, bass, drums , each player is at least 
physically independent, and the piano player and drummer can do more 
than one gesture at once.

If the gestures are mostly  independent, more than 3 are very hard to 
keep track of, and the music is often perceived as an overall density 
rather than as independent gestures.

If a jazz or rock band is improvising off of  a structure (groove, 
tune, whatever), there can be a lot of different gestures going on at 
once. (a good drummer can have 3 going by himself), but, because the 
gestures are all related, it is easier to perceive more of them at 
once, and easier to pick out 3 (or fewer) to focus on without the 
others seeming distracting.

At 8:34 PM -0500 2/27/05, David Kirkdorffer wrote:
>However, to your three gestures, I'd like to add a fourth -- a non-moving 
>very slow moving gesture.  Moving slowly, the listener need not focus on 
>too.  The hard thing is finding a person who is good at sitting in that
>space in an improv.

Slow moving gestures (like related gestures) take less 'room' in the 
listeners's brain, and so can be accommodated more easily.


"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two 
opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the 
ability to function."

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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