My first time collaborating on improvised music

For all the things I have tried musically, there is was a very obvious one which I had not… until recently that is. I have of late become aquainted with a friend of a friend who is now my friend; Al. Al and I have some similar musical tastes and ideas, and it was suggested to us and we agreed that we should try making some music together. After a few missed connections we were finally able to hang out, talk music, and listen to records (he had an especially interesting set of 50′s vocabulary records which kept us occupied and laughing out loud for a good while). I also got to check out some of his various instruments, a kora like instrument, a synth, an electric kalimba (!) etc. and it was abundantly clear, we were at least of a very similar bent. We decided the best way for us to go about making music was to sit down to improvise, so we started making plans.

After missing a few more connections, we were finally able to get together to actually make music this week. Al met me at my house this time, so he could check out my laboratory and see what my noisemaker stash had to offer, and after pulling out a number of devices, a little impromptu jam just sort of happened from us tooling around on various things, so I grabbed a bunch of instruments, amps, mics, cables etc. and set up a little recording area in the living room. I decided the easiest way to capture this initial session was to just mic the room so I set up a pair of condenser mics, one for each of our approximate areas.

We ended up improvising for 76 minutes straight. I think that is the longest I have ever played anything. We probably would have made it to two full hours if we the mics didn’t start shorting out. (I really need to check that out) The session was great. We managed to create a sort of space where we could really do pretty much anything. And the resultant overall feeling was really cohesive. For the first session, I was really pretty surprised how much of a unified “vibe” we were able to generate for most of the performance.

One interesting part of the overall outcome was accepted more than planned. Due to the thin-ness of my walls and the fact that i’m constantly hassling my neighbor for blasting modern rock radio, we had to keep the volume way down. In fact one of the amps we are using for the electronic instruments is about six inches square, and it still competes admirably with the 10 inch Ibanez that the kalimba was running through. This also meant that none of my acoustic instruments or cassette recorders needed to be miced. As a byproduct of this, every movement we made was audible in the recording, from me shuffling through cassettes to Al thunking his kalimba down on the coffee table. The unexpected part is that it somehow works. In listening back to it, I thought some of the noises were intentional and successful, and then later realized that I couldn’t really even tell if some were intentional or not. The line had completely blurred. The unintentional sounds being made by our “playing” had not only become an aleatoric musical component in the performance, but one of my favorite parts.

For those of you who care, here’s the rundown…

Personnel: Al B & ET (me)
Implements: Cassette recorders, home made “lute”, various modified and unmodified children’s toys, kalimba, silvertone acoustic, boss reverb pedal, boss loop station, bells, chainwheel gong, loop cassettes, transistor radio, playing cards, cappuccino foamer, cardboard “costume” guitar, voices, found answering machine tapes, harmonica, random household items, and probably more stuff I can’t remember.

I cut the performance into 6 parts, based on what felt like individual movements within the session. I have cut them off directly, so they can be played gapless. The end fades out due to technical difficulties in the final 15 or so minutes. Enjoy!

- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 1
- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 2
- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 3
- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 4
- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 5
- Session 1, 06/03/07, Part 6

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3 Responses to “My first time collaborating on improvised music”

  1. startlingmoniker Says:

    I just got done downloading both improv sets– going to listen now! How’s the job hunt going?

  2. howsthatsound Says:

    hey dave. thanks for taking the time to listen. we have too more sets going up soon. the last one is probably the most diverse and challenging yet.

    the job hunt has just been ambling along really. there’s been so much to do around the house and in helping my wife out at work (we own a pet shop) that i haven’t really tried all that hard. I did send in one application though, to a pretty bigtime place, and a friend who works there said the recruiter might want to offer me a position… i’m just waiting for the official word. trying not to get excited.

    i’ll miss the dole though, that’s for sure. i need to figure out a way to not work. maybe i’ll try this making money off art thing that everyone is doing these days LOL!

    hope you enjoy the improvs!

  3. Enter LATRALMAGOG!!! « OF SOUND MIND Says:

    [...] So my partner in musical debauchery Al and I decided to make our collaborative efforts offical by branding ourselves with a name. Now, this brings me (of course!) to a deluge of [...]

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