Finally getting a chance to write some again. I have been too busy travelling and playing concerts lately. I should try to get a more well balanced schedule…
In much of the improvised music I play, especially the stuff I do solo with computer (listen to this for example) the improvisation has a preconceived, although loose, structure. One of the reasons this is necessary is that I work with computers and electronic sounds. As much as I wish it was possible to have one big piece of software that would instantaneously adapt to what I play, structurally as well as contextually, I haven’t found a way to do this as. Therefore I need to limit the range of possible textures for the computer to react on.
A question that needs to be asked is: What is the significance of this preconceived structure in relation to the musical material? Is this composition more than improvisation? And, in that case, what is improvisation? Is there such a thing as ‘free’ improvisation (i.e. free from preconceived structure)?
In western thinking we are accustomed to use the dichotomies of body and mind, structure and spontanaeity, intellectual and spiritual. In his excellent article George Lewis Lewis, 1996 (previously discussed in this post) notes that in western musicology there is almost no mention or discussion of structured improvisation. Improvisation is either
aleatoric but never based on a structure. This may be interpreted as composition or music creation is either structured and notated (mind) or it is in total absence of structure (body) with an underlying notion that only the mind can structure something as complex as a musical composition.