Jazz solo appreciation: The importance of context

blue_note_jazzNotes are nothing on their own. They have no identity, no meaning. They cannot even be in tune on their own, as in order for a note to be in tune it has to be in reference to something else. Concert pitch A at 440Hz is the established reference frequency for tuning. However, there are people who think that music based on the 432Hz reference frequency sounds more humane and creates a more divine musical context. However there is no need to get into that heated debate. Let’s tune up and jump out of the frequency microcosm.

I would like to share a few thoughts on the importance of context and the way it shapes the validity, meaning and perception of musical statements during a jazz improvisation performance. I am going to use the analogy between language and a jazz solo to make my point. This is an analogy often brought up in jazz circles and for good reasons. Novels developed parallel with Classical European music, which provided the harmonic foundation of jazz. Both arts have used the same mechanism to generate meaning and drama for centuries: the interplay between order and disturbed order or between tension and release, as it is often found in jazz literature. It’s no wonder we often hear that a good jazz solo tells a good story.

Rhythmic context
We all had teachers in school who were really bad at delivering information. They spoke fast, without accenting key points. They jumped from one point to another, without pausing in between. Their overall pace was random and tiring. Since our brain’s capacity for information processing is limited, people only welcome well organised and well paced information. Random and fast musical information is perceived as bad music. It violates the natural limits of our brain capacity and remains unprocessed. Notes that are organised in strong rhythmic patterns and delivered at good pace attract our attention. The most ‘outside’ note can sound great when it belongs to a strong and interesting rhythmic pattern.

Structural context.
Comedians are aware of the importance of timing more than anyone else. There is a good moment and a bad moment to deliver your punch line. It is interesting that the pause comedians take in order to build up tension or give time to their listeners to react is called the ‘beat’. Likewise, not all points within a song structure or our solo structure are equally welcoming to a certain statement. In an AABA song form for example, the end of the B part carries a lot of inherent musical tension. It makes more sense to take your liberties at the end of the B section since the inherent tension at that point is high and naturally more forgiving to any ‘wrong’ notes you may hit. By the same token, it makes less sense to play your favorite ‘outside’ lick in the beginning of your solo where the tension is low. That’s the reason many people suggest playing a simple melodic or rhythmic idea at the beginning of a jazz solo. This strategy addresses the low tension area wisely and helps us build and develop our ideas more effectively.

Harmonic context.
Imagine watching a TV programme on flight safety while plane crushes are shown in a background video. The presenter would have no chance of passing on the message to the audience. The great challenge and beauty of jazz improvisation is that everything happens against a dynamic harmonic background. So not only do single notes gain their meaning among larger groups of notes, but they can even change their meaning when played in different harmonic contexts. Whoever provides the harmonic foundation for our solo is also responsible for the validity and quality of our statements. As the great teacher and fiddler Mat Glaser says in his Swing Violin video lesson when the guitar changes chord while he is holding a note: you take the credit!

Social context.
I don’t think using vulgar language is considered appropriate during a job interview anywhere in the world. There are words we only use when being in certain social contexts. We are being trained to constantly adjust our language style from an early age. The character of a jazz performance can vary from informal to really formal. Jazz can be performed in small bars where people are drinking and interacting with each other or concert halls where people are quietly listening. The nature of every music event encourages certain relationships among those who participate either as musicians or listeners. What seems or sounds cool in an underground jazz club may seem or sound inappropriate in a concert hall.

Psychological context.
We all appreciate someone’s confidence in speaking. We may also have fallen in love with the introversion and naiveness of a woman’s voice. When I listened to old recordings of myself with my gypsy swing band I noticed that some of what I thought were the most unsuccessful ideas sounded great. Played with an ‘I don’t really care attitude’ but with authority and intention, they somehow conveyed the feeling that I had things under control. Since then, I often try to repeat and emphasize what sounds like a wrong note. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. However, it is definitely a habit that builds our confidence while performing. However, excessive confidence can turn into repulsive egotism that might contaminate our music. Authority is great, but being esoteric and naïve while improvising is great too. Many people hate German just because they have associated it with Hitler’s talks. The question is: can we really escape our real selves when performing?

It goes beyond doubt that the necessity of building good and solid musical skills for dealing with any given situation should be top priority for musicians. By being aware of a few principles that govern communication and the delivery of information we can enhance our ability to come up with more interesting and meaningful improvisations. Sometimes instead of looking for right notes, we should ask ourselves: What really makes sense to the human ear?

On the other hand, we often think that we can carry our solid and rigid musical skills anywhere we go. However we all know that the same skilled person is capable of delivering a great performance one day and a mediocre performance the following day. This is natural, since there are many parameters interacting with each other that affect our performance in any given situation. Sam Sommers in his book ‘Situations matter’ mentions that we’re easily seduced by the notion of stable character.

Anyway, my point is this: When I listen to a musician who creates interesting rhythmic ideas, has a good pace using pauses, doesn’t want to convince me of anything, shows no egotism, plays in a really nice friendly atmosphere, has a good sound, and all that is happening at a friendly volume to the human ear, then I am more than willing to forgive anything!

Techniques, not Technique!

Techniques, not techniqueTrying to become a better musician is like walking up a beautiful mountain. The higher we get the nicer the view is. We know that the view is already worth all our efforts and patience and we can imagine that higher up the view is even greater. Along this path of musical development we are desperately looking for shortcuts that will accelerate our progress and will offer us a greater view of the musical world. These shortcuts are nothing more than mental frameworks that organize our work and provide useful answers. I want to share a few thoughts on the notion of technique as a mental framework that can be sterile and perplexing. I would like to suggest techniques as a mental framework that is more fertile and liberating.

Technique is an abstract concept. Just like ‘music’ is an abstraction of the real action of playing music, technique is also an abstraction of all our playing mannerisms. This concept of reification (turning an abstraction into a concrete thing) lies in the heart of the philosophy of Plato and often provides us with a distorted world view. It may be a crude example, but think of a farmer from mountainous Crete and a London businessman both being regarded and treated as ‘Europeans’. Or think how we -here in Europe- mentally treat a Texan farmer and a San Francisco hippie as ‘Americans’. So, what is wrong with ‘technique’ in music?

First, I think ‘technique’ is almost a non-musical concept. It bears no organic relation with all the elements that make musical meaning to the human ear like repetition, melody, pauses, dynamics and interaction. These musical elements can be honored and practiced with minimum technique. Furthermore, the notion of technique cannot really explain why I enjoy playing music with my buddy who picked up the guitar just 2 weeks ago. Percussionist Ken Hyder has said in an interview that ‘technical virtuosity does not interest me as a player’ (…) ‘the aim is to create magic moments, and magic moments are often created with the minimum use of technique’.

bongosSecond, the notion of technique has no universal value whatsoever. It may refer to different things around the world. What’s more, appreciating music is very often style-sensitive. A classical virtuoso will never be able to play a single note in the jazz idiom and a reggae singer will most likely sing bad opera, unless they both spend time internalizing the particular expressive devices and techniques of jazz phrasing and opera singing. We would never criticize them for their bad technique outside their musical territory. Different musical idioms use different playing and interpretation techniques and it is these techniques that most often define the unique sound and character of a musical tradition.

Third, I feel the concept of technique is more tied with the linear and deterministic view of learning I have discussed in a previous post titled ‘How people learn and what it means for us musicians’. Progress is non linear and asymmetric involving jumps, spins and turns. Deliberate practice on the other hand encourages the idea that you need to practice something first before you are able to play it. I think experience tells otherwise. My weak memory suggests that I have not actually practiced most of the things I can play. They were quietly developed and shaped while I was satisfying my childish curiosity listening and playing my favorite music. I was not in a ‘now I am working on my technique’ mode. What we can do with our hands and mind develops in a much more complicated way than the linearity implied by technique.

Django-StephaneFinally, let’s look at the music of Django Reindhardt and Stephane Grappelli as an example. Their 1930’s recordings largely constitute the foundations of the gypsy jazz tradition. Django himself had to come up with his own unique technique of playing the guitar after his 3rd and 4th fingers were paralyzed in a fire accident. By using only his index and middle fingers of his left hand he came up with unique lines, chord inversions and a soloing mentality that eventually defined the Gypsy Jazz sound. Grappelli on the other hand improvises playing only in 1st and 3rd position most of the time. His improvisations are made of notes that can be hit by a technically intermediate violinist.

In addition, they certainly did not play perfect in any sense of the term. No matter how much forgiving these old recordings are, you can still hear imperfections and misses. What makes their music great is not the idea of a polished final product. It is their innovative approach, the musical accidents that happen and the risks you hear them taking while they are looking for that one live take they would eventually put on their record. I could simply say that their music is basically human and honest. In that sense, it has great artistic value.

For these reasons I have started to believe that thinking in terms of techniques is a lot more fertile and liberating. The concept of techniques comes in handy while learning and accounts more effectively for what goes on in the musical world. I find it more helpful in organizing my work instead of generally thinking ‘now I am working on my technique’. It can offer more tangible answers to the question: what can I really do on my instrument? When I listen to my favorite musicians I notice that they either have the ability of creating an interesting variety or they are very good at doing one single thing. A single technique may be a musician’s stylistic hallmark. There are many great musicians who became well-known just because they introduced that one single thing or technique they were good at. Being good at ‘something’ has real musical value. It helps us build our musical identity and provides us with the power to share and communicate our music.

I have to say that this discussion touches more on improvisational music than Paganini’s caprices. When attempting to play music exactly as written then the concept of technique turns into something more objective and confirmable. I am just weighing the abstract concept of technique against self-expression and the enjoyment of music. Many music educators question the dominance of technique during the learning process. The idea of a polished performance often grows at the expense of expression, musicianship and enjoyment. It eventually tends to objectify artistic performance and its appreciation. Eddie Prevost explains the admiration of technique as a broader political issue. He says that ‘obsession with, and admiration for, technique merely reflects the ethos and values of the new elitism which is gaining strength in our world’. (In ‘Improvised Music: Some answers to some questions’ in Contact, a journal of contemporary music 33, p. 14, year: 1988)

In a nutshell, I personally find the concept of technique a bad verbal and mental tool for understanding, appreciating and learning music. If there are people playing music without even having a word for it (Swahili) then we could definitely live without ‘technique’.

Busking is great

There is nothing more fun than playing music in a beautiful street corner with a few people around you enjoying themselves. There is actually no strong busking culture in Greece but good weather and the relaxed summer atmosphere -especially in tourist destinations- provide a great context for playing in the street. There is no clear legislation or policy on busking and nobody is really authorized to issue a busking permit. The course of your performance in practice depends on whether someone decides to call the police on the grounds of being disturbed by your music (or ‘noise’ as a nearby shopkeeper once said of our playing while we were busking last summer). However, I believe that the overall success and social acceptance of your performance mostly depends on the quality of your music and your overall social attitude.

 

Busking on the island of Syros with good friends Manolis and George

Busking in Syros with Manolis, George and a few beers

Busking in Santorini with our quartet in Summer 2011

Busking in Santorini with Antonis, Kostas and Petros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Dylan, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane used to play in the street like so many other great unknown musicians around the world. Many of them have testified the huge benefits of this experience. Busking offers all the benefits of formal live performance and even more, without the typical anxiety or pressure musicians often experience before and during a formal gig. A nice spot away from car traffic and some basic repertoire is all you need to get started. Narrow streets are really appropriate since they offer good acoustics without the need of any amplification -which I don’t like anyway because it can be intrusive and unfriendly to the ear. Playing acoustically for a bunch of people is really a great scale for performing and listening. It is intimate, honest and encourages people to meet and interact in a healthy context. While busking you can attempt your most crazy improvisations, talk to a beautiful girl while your guitarist is soloing or quote a famous nursery song the moment a kid is passing by. Every busking experience is a new territory for fun, musical and social exploration.

By definition your audience is comprised of socially and culturally diverse people unlike the typical audience in a jazz club or any live venue. Children, families, teenagers, elderly and homeless are all potential listeners, and most likely many of them have never been introduced to the music you might be playing. This element of surprise is one of the things that make busking so great. Childlike curiosity, genuine interest, parents ordering their kids to keep walking and even open discrediting of what is going on are images of human manifestations made possible when playing music in public space. When people turn around the corner and listen to you playing they are more likely to be sincere and spontaneous in their reactions. And I honestly believe that whether people appreciate your music or not, it definitely adds meaning to their evening walk just because people are simply desperate for stories. There they have a story and you are part of it.

Another aspect I find interesting in the busking ritual is the fact that it tends to ignite social interaction and often encourages us to manifest ourselves in a variety of ways.

imagesWatch this woman in the photo holding a lifestyle magazine while she is kicking a girl playing her accordion for a few euros. Apparently she did not like this girl being near her shop. (This photo was taken just under the Acropolis in Athens earlier this year by Associated Press photographer Dimitris Messinis). The scene is exasperating but it also stands as direct evidence of my point that just the image of a little girl playing music led this woman to manifest herself in a certain way, whereas otherwise she would pass as a good mannered middle class shopkeeper. The social value of busking lies exactly in this: It can touch upon issues of freedom, cultural appreciation and co-existence.

Above all, when we busk we are building an example of unmediated social relations with our listeners. In the street you can be pretty sure that when people appear thankful and express their gratitude, they most likely mean it. By the same token, the reaction of the shopkeeper, who came up to us complaining for the noise we were making, rightfully belongs to the wide spectrum of possible feedback we should expect. I truly welcome these remarks not because I trust everyone’s musical criteria but because I feel that they help me stay in touch with a reality that -fairly or unfairly- often devalues artistic attempt and creation. Hiding in a jazz bar with jazz fans is not the real picture, although I certainly understand the need for it.

I have described the ritual of busking as a healthy social context -and I believe it is definitely healthier than the sterilized streets people walk up and down every day going to work and all the other rituals we participate in, like job interviews or even concert hall performances. In my mind that’s why children feel so comfortable being around it, and that’s why they naturally end up being the best and most devoted listeners of all. Busking is just great for children. It is fun, lively and provides a world of visual and auditory stimuli just like the ones children are so thirsty for. Watch the excitement of this child while we were busking on the island of Antiparos last summer.

 

I have had a great time busking, I have met great people while doing it and I encourage all musicians to give it a try.

 

How to use the Diminished sound to simplify Jazz Harmony

violin caseAll of us interested in improvising in the jazz idiom need mental tools of simplifying jazz harmony.  The concept I would like to discuss in this article, which I think can help in understanding harmony and chord substitutions, is that of the three diminished families. But before we examine the three diminished families let me put our discussion into context.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS POST

When we zoom out of western harmony we can generally detect 2 areas: The area of harmonic tension and the area of harmonic release. Generally speaking, harmonic tension is represented by dominant chords very often joined by minor 7th chords (Gm7-C7, Gm7b5-C7#9,) while harmonic release is represented by major 7th or 6th type chords (Cmaj7, Cmmaj7 Cm6,).

Jazz musicians have enjoyed using the diminished sound as a substitute for the dominant 7th chords (tension areas) due to its property of carrying the necessary amount of inherent tension. The 2 tritone intervals that exist in the diminished arpeggio represent the backbone of harmonic tension in our western tonal harmony system and constitute a powerful tool in improvisation.

It’s worth noticing that the minor third interval -the basic building block of the diminished sound- fails to convey the major sound quality which is defined by a major third interval. However, the diminished sound can be used effectively in order to lead into major chords, implying the 5 of a major chord. This creates nice movement in our lines, an idea jazz guitarist Joe Pass discusses in his 1991 ‘Jazz Lines’ video lesson.

So, the diminished sound can satisfactorily convey the minor and dominant sound qualities and that’s why it is very often used on the 2-5 area of a 2-5-1 progression.
Here is the idea:

 

1st DIMINISHED FAMILY

The first diminished family is defined by the diminished arpeggio:
G, Bb, C#, E (Tritones: G-C# and Bb-E)

And the equivalent diminished scale which is basically formed by chromatically approaching each of the diminished arpeggio notes:
F#-G-A-Bb-C-C#-Eb-E

The diminished arpeggio and the equivalent diminished scale relate with these minor chords:
Gm, Bbm, C#m, Em

We can convey these minor chord qualities satisfactorily by playing the above diminished arpeggio from the root of these chords. When we do that we provide the root, the minor third, the flat 5th and the 6th (all of them nice and valid)

The diminished arpeggio and the equivalent diminished scale also relate with these dominant chords:
C7, Εb7, F#7, A7

We can convey these dominant chord qualities by playing that same diminished arpeggio one half step above the root of these chords. When we do that we provide the flat 9, the major third, the fifth and the flat 7 of every chord (all of them nice and valid).

So, no wonder we come across these 2-5 progressions in jazz:
Gm7         C7
Bbm7       Eb7
C#m7       F#7
Em7          A7

See these 5-1s as belonging to the same family. When we conceptualize these 5-1s as a family we can immediately see why substituting Bbm7-Eb7 for Gm7-C7 works (jazz theorists call this backdoor substitution-the idea of using a 2-5 a minor third above your original 5-1) and why substituting C#m7-F#7 for Gm7-C7 also works (the famous tritone substitution-the idea of using a 2-5 a tritone away from your original 5-1).

The point is that we can convey the harmony of these 2-5s just by using the four notes of the same diminished arpeggio. This is a great starting point for improvising. Try to apply rhythmic patterns on just these four notes and I am sure you’ll see the interesting ideas you can come up with. If we now choose to use the equivalent scale then we skyrocket our potential, since a treasure of melodic material lies within the diminished scale. Check this yourself on your instrument.

If we approach the tension areas of a new tune using this approach we narrow our choices of melodic material on harmonic tension areas down to three. And this is true not only for strictly diminished lines. Take the popular Cry Me a River lick, a melodic fragment that all great jazz players have incorporated into their playing:

'cry me a river' lick

 

Strictly speaking you wouldn’t call this a diminished line right? But the last 3 notes of the phrase do belong to the diminished scale of our first Diminished Family, so you could actually treat it as melodic material belonging to the first diminished family, as the G minor chord also indicates. Of course, you can expand this idea further by organizing melodic ideas you already know based on their resemblance to one of the three diminished families.

Jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker was a master of the diminished tool. If we master the diminished concept and go beyond than just going up and down the scale, not even experienced ears will be able to understand our mental source of improvisational ideas. Thinking diminished does not necessarily mean sounding diminished! What we are doing is setting up a mental framework.

So, here are the other two Diminished families:

 

2nd DIMINISHED FAMILY

The second diminished family is defined by the diminished arpeggio:
Ab, B, D, F (Tritones: G#-D and B-F)

And the equivalent diminished scale:
G-Ab-Bb-B-C#-D-E-F

The diminished arpeggio and the equivalent diminished scale relate with these minor chords:
Abm, Bm, Dm, Fm

…and these dominant chords:
Db7, E7, G7, Bb7

And these are the 2-5 progressions that are formed:
Abm7     Db7
Bm7        E7
Dm7       G7
Fm7        Bb7

 

3rd DIMINISHED FAMILY

The third diminished family is defined by the diminished arpeggio:
A, C, Eb, F# (Tritones: A-Eb and C-F#)

And the equivalent diminished scale:
G#-A-B-C-D-Eb-F-F#

The diminished arpeggio and the equivalent diminished scale relate with these minor chords:
Am, Cm, Ebm, F#m

…and these dominant chords:
D7, F7, Ab7, B7

And these are the 2-5 progressions that are formed:
Am7       D7
Cm7       F7
Ebm7     Ab7
Fm#7      B7

Remember that this is just one mental tool of simplification. There are other great tools like visualization, especially interesting for us fiddlers since our in instruments are symmetrically tuned in fifths. We will discuss the power of visualization in another article.
Don’t neglect to play back up tracks when experimenting. Good luck and let me know what you think!

If you found this post helpful and inspiring, the smallest contribution will encourage the author to continue writing and sharing his ideas.

Thank you!





An interview with Prof. Frank Millward on improvisation

I met Frank Millward in 2003 in London. Frank is a Multimedia Artist, Composer and jazz performer. He is a Professor in the School of Fine Art at Kingston University, London. Over the years he has taught Music Composition, Jazz Theory, Improvisation, Jazz History and Jazz Arranging, Composing for Film and Television. Frank’s ideas immediately caught my attention so I managed to organise a short session with him in order to ask him a few questions on how he understands improvising and learning. He talks about the mentality of improvisation and he comments on the chord-scale relationships and the fact that they are so embedded in jazz teaching.

Stergios: How would you define musical improvisation?
Frank: As self-expression through sound.

Stergios: What is the greater benefit from your involvement in musical practice?
Frank: There are many. The greatest one should be in some way humanitarian, social and (although a cliché) love of life or an appreciation of the concept of joy but also a concept of all things that I would equate with being in that kind of realm. Joy and sadness.
.
Stergios: What particular styles are you mostly involved with?
Frank: The main thing I like is rhythm. African, Latin jazz rhythms. I have been into R&B for some time, and I also like New Orleans piano style.

Stergios: What about your criteria for appraising music? Are they only musical?
Frank: I always appraise how it makes me feel. Only. Nothing else. How it makes me feel and how I connect with it. Spiritually.

Stergios: Do you sometimes think about the music’s background for example?
Frank: I do, but I try not to. Cause otherwise I just get into that. I never disappear intellectually into a piece. Not on the first hearing. I only allow myself to have this kind of thoughts when I repeatedly listen to something. I think the other thing that I am aware of is what it looks like as well. I think I’m very aware of what it looks like. What I mean by that is quite often if I am watching a film what the sound looks like, if I am watching a performance, if I’m in the theatre. Images are a big issue with me. It has certainly been a big issue with what I write. I am always concerned with what it looks like.

Stergios: Have you ever appraised someone’s personality only by watching him playing music?
Frank: Yes, all the time.

Stergios: Can you give me an example?
Frank: I never liked Bill Evans, as a person. I used to go and watch him play every second Monday in 1978. He never looked up, he had his head about 6 inches away from the piano and he was obviously stoned off his face. I thought…’who is this guy?’ And I had never talked to him. But I used to close my eyes and listen. I hate watching Keith Jarrett too. Cause I find him to be sometimes completely pretentious. But I love what he plays.

Stergios: How did you develop your skills in musical improvisation?
Frank: When I was little I used to sit at the piano and just playing the piano imagining a scenario. And I’d be making up usually a show. I would make up a scene, a fantasy about something…I used to do that for hours. I did formal piano lessons but then I dropped them and I played the trumpet. I played the guitar and bass. I stopped formal music education. I was in bands. Then when I was 22 I left what I was doing in order to do music. When I did that all the people I have been working with said ‘don’t go and learn at the conservatoire. You’ll loose your feel’. They said that I would become intellectually involved with whatever you are doing and you have no explanation for now and I will become analytical and loose the feel I have for it. I didn’t want to learn rubbish. I wanted to play music when I would become old. I was imagined that by the time I would be fifty I would become a good piano player. I could have done more practice but if I had done more practice I’d stop myself from doing all other things in music.

Stergios: Do you think that one should listen to many different musical styles in order to develop his skills in improvising?
Frank: There are two ways of doing it: Listen to many or just one. And once you’ve listened to one, learn one really well, then brunch out into others. I am not sure about this because I think of the things about pedagogical approaches to musical improvisation has messed up a lot of people about how to improvise because what ends up happening is that people sound all the same, because the have the same pedagogical approach. They transcribe a solo…so in a way other ways of teaching it are much more important. Visualisation for example and the whole idea of free expression. Making sounds that are meaningful to the person who is making the sound.

Stergios: How can the practice of other arts have an effect on our musical creativity?
Frank: Well, this is my whole current fascination. I have been in education for ten years but what I was doing before for 15 years, I was a live artist. I was composing, performing and presenting in a variety of ways. So I really think that the role of the modern composer is to be involved in the audio-visual-digital-media experience.

Stergios: Why do you think self-taught musicians can achieve high levels of musical proficiency without any formal instruction?
Frank: Because they develop their ears. They listen. They learn the intimacy of the listening experience. They really understand what that is. You can teach that though. A lot of people learn it.

Stergios: How would you teach improvisation?
Frank: I think to teach improvisation is to actually people trying to discover the child in themselves and the fascination with sound. The whole way of teaching jazz improvisation is not applicable any more. It is too dangerous to teach with a new pedagogy that involves for example image, transformations or the manipulation of other ideas that have to do with feelings, or briefings that don’t have to do with chord-scale relationships. Chord-scale relationships are so embedded in the pedagogical academy of teaching jazz that is hard to get away from. We should be experimenting more but we are not because politically that is not possible. All education should be concerned with intellectual well-being, and being able to evaluate critically anything, and the next thing is to evaluate critically in a way, for and against any particular issue which is being discussed. Education should put in place within students a facility of enabling students to develop arguments, analytical theory and the ability to analyze in an informed way.

Stergios: I remember you once said that society confines our child-like self. Is this what you mean?
Frank: It stops us from being like that. It does not allow us to be child-like. If we create environments where you are allowed to be then true self-expression of the improvised kind will be allowed to happen. For example we allow it with stand-up comedians, improvising actors and dancers. We allow it in other kind of improvised artistic expression. In certain kinds of music we do allow it. But it is still embedded in a language that is ‘expected’. When a child discovers what it’s like to hit that note and then again, and then discovers another one… To be able to do that as an adult to rediscover how to express the difference between these two things is really the key to teaching improvisation. It is about listening, memory, philosophy, ‘leting go’ being a child, but being in control of being a child. Naïve is fantastic, beautiful, because it is completely free of anything other than perhaps the dangers of being hurt.

Stergios: Thanks Frank!

Pin It on Pinterest