Session/Séance 5j: MusCan Lecture-Recital, Modes of Spontaneity in Non-Idiomatic Improvised Music

Session/Séance 5j: MusCan Lecture-Recital. Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 12:00PM-12:45PM, EJB 130.
Modes of Spontaneity in Non-Idiomatic Improvised Music
     James McGowan, Carleton University and
     William Richards, Grant MacEwan University

Improvisation in music has existed throughout time, but the last fifty years have seen the rise of a specific musical tradition, which many call “non-idiomatic improvised music.” Some can trace this new genre back to the free-jazz explorations of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Sam Rivers, Lester Bowie, and Sun Ra, while the music of John Cage, Lucas Foss, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pauline Oliveros and William O. Smith provide an historical tradition in art music. In addition, many global music traditions feature numerous improvisational practices; improvised music today typically includes a plethora of such influences in rhythmic, timbral, textural, and other musical domains. What improvisation means in any given context is how performer and listener – or active and passive participants – respond to the flow in the spontaneity of the moment. By way of framing explanations and three musical “pieces,” this lecture-recital outlines some of the different approaches or modes that improvised music can take as performed by two experienced improvising pianists playing two pianos. The use of non-traditional, graphic-notation scores is a type of approach that generates cues to be interpreted differently but collaboratively by each performer involved. Another approach is that based upon some pre-determined, verbally agreed upon process (e.g., a melody, a sound image, a specific tonal or stylistic coordination or juxtaposition). Finally, this tradition is also evident when a group of musicians create collaboratively without any pre-determined plan.

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