spontaneous composition

Workshop 2: Nicholas Gebhardt, After the event: listening to Miles Davis’s “My Funny Valentine”

Nicholas Gebhardt (Lancaster University) opened his presentation by explaining that in it, he intends to provide a few thoughts on jazz improvisation and what it offers us in terms of thinking about the nature of artistic events. Gebhardt argued that perhaps more than any other aspect of music today, improvisation has particular significance for how we explain or account for changes in musical experience, across all the forms of contemporary music: not just jazz, but also within classical, electronic, experimental, modernist, pop, rock, and non-western music as well. He claimed that the reason for this is that as a way of thinking about musical forms, improvisation poses fundamental questions about the process of deciding what to play — that is, what counts for us as music in any given social situation — and how to organise or shape musical events.

Workshop 2: Day 1 - Discussion

Discussion following the presentations of the first day of the workshop focused around six main themes: a dialectical tension with structure, non-idiomatic, use of the term experiment, unpredictability, image-breaking and image-making in terms of the end of art, and similarity and difference between genres.

Workshop 2: Karen Juers-Munby, Events between script and freedom: improvising with text in contemporary experimental performance

Karen Juers-Munby (LICA, Lancaster University) in her presentation focused on the eventness of experimental (postdramatic) performances. She argued that the phenomenon of the event often arises precisely through the openly exhibited tension between script and performance.  Juers-Munby explored some contemporary experimental performances that openly exhibit text in performance and in which text or script becomes an acknowledged ‘player’ in improvisation. Using the examples of ‘Forced Entertainment’ and Julia Barclay’s ‘Apocryphal Theatre’ she illuminated the issues of presence and identity in terms of presenting and dis/placing identity. Juers-Munby argued that this new aesthetic forms are not merely formal innovations but can also be seen as political aesthetics.   

Workshop 2: Antti Saario, Free Improvised Music: Recording Perspective

Antti Saario (LICA, Lancaster University) opened his presentation by emphasising the importance of looking at particular challenges set forth by recording free improvised music. He described this in terms of a quest for a more tactile sonic experience: “the turning point from mechanical explosion to electrical implosion” (Marshall McLuhan, 1964). Saario followed by posing critical questions: Why do we want to record this magical event of improvisation? Why do we want a fixed perspective and what would it be?

Workshop 1 - Cornelius Borck, ‘Dancing With the Brain: Voodoo Science, False Colours, and Attentive Failures’

Cornelius Borck’s (Institute for History of Medicine and Science Studies, University of Lübeck) presentation followed the theme of the appropriation of simulation by science with a strong sense that one cannot talk scientifically about any topic without it.

Stephen Grew

Stephen Grew


Stephen Grew


Grutronic, Graham Clark & Stephen Grew Duo
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