Eclectic I

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Music Tech Jounal wk 7


Guest: Derek Pascal

Derek took the assembled students (in particular those who had an improvisational jam session with him,) completely out of their comfort zone. Using his individual experience he conveyed his understaning and practice of Improvisation.

A saxophonist from the age of 15, Derek Toured with Pop bands, progressed into a love of Jazz until he ended up doing his masters at Adelaide Uni where for the last 3 Years he has tried to break away from chord structure and move into what he describes as free improvisation.

To begin this journey he began a ritual to combat his intellect from domineering over his creative subconscious. He feels that the concepts of what was good or bad that he had learned prevented his subconscious mind from truly expressing; to be absolutely free of restraints. So each day he would read a page from the "Buddhist offering for 375 days" and play the 'feeling' of the words. If he felt uninspired he would just play the words to "spring board him into a musical space.*1"

Moving on from this he has developed a series of strategies to continue this idea of things that act as a 'spring board' into a creative space. The idea of not consciously thinking of what is being played but just letting it come spontaneously from an 'outside source' always acting as an underlying philosophy to these approaches to improvisation.

Implementing these strategies in the improv jam that occurred between the selected improv group of students had some interesting results. Beginning by dictating that the group 'on stage' should only play 'clicks' of sound while the audience created a drone of sound vocally seemed to be a failure. Only minimal members of the audience attempted to create such a drone while the improv group seemed lost and unsure.

After a discussion of how things went a second attempt followed without the involvement of the audience. There where brief moments where things looked as though they might come together but ultimately it was still not evolving. After more discussion more attempts were made, until the last one attempt where the several Strategies were available to be implemented by the assembled improv group. By this time there were more sophisticated uses of sound but I think that moments to continue to evolve where not utilized because ironically people where trying to conform to Derek’s instructions.

It might be that I am a fan of strange effects and sounds, and that I have often experimented the possibilities with my own guitar and effects, but I found Josh stood out in the group. He was perfectly happy just to play with the sounds and had no reservations about what was good or bad and managed to create some incredible textures. In a sense this encapsulated the ideas Derek was trying to get across. I also appreciate what Marco and Will where doing with amplifying and altering sounds they created live.

I feel that it would be valid to have reservations about Derek’s strategies. The group has been improvising together for a few weeks, learning each others approaches to music and learning to interact in this fashion. Derek essentially imposed restrictions upon their creative output when they were completely unprepared for them. Had they known these restrictions when they started they could have had time to adjust what they were doing as a collective group accordingly.

I am not discrediting Derek’s point of view. In fact it resonates with me and I understand what he is trying to achieve. I do however feel that there are multiple ways of people reaching a place of creative freedom where the intellect ceases to dictate approach. He is discovering various approaches and methods which work for him and could potentially work for others. I think the use of acid by many musicians in the 60’s had similar effects. I also feel that someone could meditate and/or fast for a period of time and attain a state of mind where the conscious mind does not dominate over the subconscious. This comparison limits what Derek is trying to achieve to playing music in an altered state of mind. But in essence this is what he seems to be trying to achieve. The only difference is the intent to use this altered state of mind as a vehicle to be in a state of absolute creation to the extent where he is connecting to an exterior source that he can then act as a conduit for musical creation.

Ultimately I think there is a lot to gain from Derek’s ideas but people should feel free to take their own approach to it. Whether or not people want to create music by these means is another story.

*Pascal, Derek. "Music Technology forum/workshop on Improvisation with Derek Pascal" Lecture presented at University Adelaide, 8 September 2006.

Pic Refrences in order of appearance

#1 Unkown. "Books" Review of book Buddhist Offering 365 Days" by Danielle & Oliverier Follmi Publisher: Thames & Hudson September 2006. (8 September 2006).


Post a Comment

<< Home