Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vitamin S reflection/refraction

image by Phil Dadson
I dropped in on a Vitamin S workshop last nite. Bit of background: Vitamin S are a network of musicians who improvise together on a regular basis. Their website software randomly selects musicians names to play together in different configurations each week, then notifies them via email. Then whoever turns up is whoever turns up. This is a good old fashioned chance mechanism that produces ‘interesting results’. I have danced with them on and off for a couple of years now. From time to time they run workshops for each other and last night I dropped in on one just to have a gander, not to ‘play’. In between sets the group had little discussions, reflections on what was just played and the provocations that the workshop leader was deploying. Some interesting things came out of those discussions. One topic was ‘listening’. The amount of listening sensitivity going on within any of the improvised sets made an impact on how things would go in the process of making. In watching several short sessions I got the impression that the more that individuals in the group listened to each other, the simpler and more refined their individual decisions and offers were. However there seemed to be some discontent amongst some people in the group about this. Because the simpler decisions emerged as an identifiable tendency there was an immediate mistrust from some - some of these guys get a little twitchy when anything ‘familiar’ occurs, or a sonic pattern emerges within the improvisation. This seems to come from an assumption that improvisation is a constant moving away from the familiar and the habitual. Yup I reckon that improvisation can be driven by that. It still seems to me that when it is, the performance always seems to manifest a very recognizable set of aesthetics in spite of a compulsive ‘moving away from the familiar’. From experience an increased quality of attention / listening is attainable through dedicated practice. And during that practice certain bandwidths of imaginative processing narrow down whilst one attends to the task of improving ones improv-ing through increased conscious attention. So I’ve found that I become less creative for awhile and some old patterns re-emerge when I work on this. ( There is something to be said for mastering stereotypes, and I don’t think you can fully depart from a thing you haven’t actually mastered - you can't give up what you don't have). In the context of deepening a skill or developing a new one I’m all for old patterns - if I can re-experience / recontextualise them fully they open more doors of possibility than when I resist them, or when I make a goal of being evermore inventive by compulsively departing from whats there. Anyway, it was nice to hang out with a bunch of musicians, who were gently and sincerely playing for their own enjoyment and curiosity in a basement off K Rd. July 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comm


Things that Move Me Created and performed by Oliver Connew - NZ Fringe - BEOP Studios , Mt Eden, Auckland - 2017 Dear Olive...