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ambivalent feelings about playing live (was: PrePrepared vs. Improvisational)


I found the posts from Kevin and Miko deeply touching, since it calls
back memories from a period where I just found the idea of performing
music in front of people bizarre and absurd. This happened to me in
the early nineties and I had by then been playing regularly with
gigging bands since the early seventies. Had also done some full time
playing for periods as hired gun for tours and recordings - even
played on a gold selling album once. But now all that just seemed so
far away and... stupid. My feelings really surprised me, but I just
couldn't come up with one good point in playing live. It seemed such a
ridiculous situation; "shall I stand here and make music on this
instrument while people sit there doing nothing, except staring at....
me...?" it just felt weird.

I played a lot at home during that time and amazed myself by reverting
from most kinds of rhythm, playing only drone music. But doing
gigs...? Not for me. ONe exception was a uk festival were
soviet-france invited me but the police closed down the venue before
my ticket money came and nothing happened with that.

Then by accident I got together with a drummer friend to save a 24
track album recording from London with a Gambian singer. After that
project I became friends with a lot of african players and joinied a
band that mashed Irish folk stuff with west african beats and a little
kletzmer thrown into the pot. Suddenly I wanted to play live again and
I just couldn't understand how in the world I could have felt so
alienated with the live situation just three years earlier in time.
And then I got together with two other guys and launched an
electro-dance-punk unit that got signed to to record labels and
received a lot of investments in the music industry. But the
overwhelming biz activities sort of killed creativity and I had to
quit to stay sane and save my musical ambitions.

It's amazing how your life changes with the world all the time. You
never know what comes around the next corner. Today I really love to
play live! Not for any other reason than the love for the particular
music I make. The thought of creating cool music away from an audience
now feels absurd; every note I play, even when rehearsing, is done in
a sort of "audience mirror mode" as if it was all happening on stage.
And funnily a lot of the stuff I make these days is rhythmic. Could it
be that it was the lack of rhythm that poisoned my muso back in the
nineties? I have a feeling that maybe rhythm is more important in
music than tonality. Drums with no tone work perfectly ok but if a
tonal instrument is out of rhythm it just sucks.

Greetings from Sweden

Per Boysen