Improvisation: Undergraduate, year 4 (2005-6)

This section comprise of my improvisation project for the year 4 of my undergraduate studies.
(Note: Interesting that it seems most of the time whenever you try to retrieve things they would remain hopelessly concealed and hidden. I cannot find my copies for this project (shame), and my original master were submitted as part of the work.

Realizing some of the tracks I have stored inside my mp3 player, and yes, its a Sony, because when I tried to recover whatever files I can salvage they claimed as they cannot locate the original source within this particular computer, they denied my right to transfer the files onto computer’s hard drive space. Files which are my compositions, and improvisations either done solely by myself, or in collaboration with colleagues or faculty members within the class.

This is indeed copyright protection justice served cold, with a grim sense of irony.

Postscript on note: I have successfully circumvented Sony’s barrier, but if I say one extra word I shall be prosecuted. )

  1. CD #1 comprise of my class recordings, solo, duet, or group performances
  2. CD #2 comprise of my tutorial recordings, solo or duet with my tutorial instructor, Matt Brubeck
  3. CD #3 comprise of a duet session with Roger
  4. CD #4 comprise of a trio session with Roger and Lane

Sectional Summaries:

1. Least successful

When improvising with other players one need to balance their own contribution with the amount of information one should receive. If one refuses to limit their response the group would turn into a complementary exercise for a soloist, and what supposed to be partners reduced into mere extensions of the Diva/Maestro. In the case of my personal recording experience, there are several instances when one or more instruments has taken the leading role of group improvisation, yet refuses to cooperate with the rest of the group. What happens is that the audience would sense that particular performer being out of place—either too fast or slow, too loud or soft, or actually just does not fit in to the rest of the ensemble. Their shortfall would become increasingly obvious, and it would only be a matter of time before they would be left with very few, if not no improvisers willing to play with.

On the other hand, the receptivity of the improviser is as significant as their ability to express. While some level of concentration is necessary to express in an articulate and fluent manner, an autistic approach to expression would make a person look like an amplifier—without ears. It is insensitive, obnoxious and rude. Again such vice would only prove detrimental to a person’s attractiveness and compatibility.

When we have more then one Diva/Maestro present within the ensemble the damage quadruples: not only the extra soloist would refuse to give in to the group, but they would also reject the other soloist’s leadership. When the number of the ignorant becomes the majority of the ensemble the group would cease to function as one-but in fact different groups playing simultaneously. Unless you intentionally trying to recreate the Charles Ives aesthetic, such cacophony would yield very few rewards—and any other choice would prove less malicious while more constructive.

2. Best material

If the partner(s) you are working with are willing to contribute and listen, do give thanks to God for blessing you with such levels of companionship! While favorable and wonderful accidents might happen (and that is exactly why you want to buy lottery tickets), they remain random and not something one should (and could) depend on. All successful improvisers rely on multiple advantages so that the risk of failure are diluted over the almighty probability.

Indeed one should search for a partner that could be an asset to the group, yet true assets should be mutually benefiting. Many times I personally would acquire connections that might not be the best in performance, but most supportive. The reason is knowing full well that I am not sufficient to utilize the very best on my own, it would be much wiser to get help, someone who has the capability to facilitate the greatest advantage to the largest group of people. Knowledge is best spread laterally, not internally.

The best possible ensemble one can get is filled with “reflecting mirrors”—they would reveal your attributes, positive and negative through any means necessary; explicit or implicit, active or passive, they would not flatter your strengths nor conceal your vices but endeavor to present to you the objective truth: The unadulterated reality that one should learn to embrace with utmost passion.

Obviously we should do likewise. Observe while contributing. Respond sincerely while inquire anything that you wish to know. Play while listening. Listen while playing. The result of such endeavor is the fruitful and abundant reward. Amazement and wonder that would unlikely cease, Desires and hopes fulfilled, and most importantly, the benevolence—the wish that you can share what you have experienced to everyone that you would ever meet.

Such are the signs of the best material.

3. Most promising

While both utopia and dystopia are idealistic hypotheses projected in some sort of visible yet unattainable future, we indeed lived in a world where every and anything is something in between the two extremes. Consequently the appropriate response to this question is the most urgent of them all.

The careful assessment of the failure is apparently expected: what was lacking? What is in excess? (quote. Casey in past improv. project response) Yet shouldn’t we all pay at least equal attention to our success and/or accomplishments? What exactly is our philosopher’s stone? Our path to perfection, to our ultimate fulfillment?

While asking and reviewing ourselves we should also attempt to analyze every situation within the context of reality: First and most important of all, how we human consciousness are formed with our every past experience. What this truth signifies is that one should not deny of their history, as it is such history that formed the very self that are still living, contemplating, responding and all the while continuously making more history!

With the knowledge and recognition of the past we should then understand our current state of self, knowing what is capable, what is achievable, what is worthwhile to try. More importantly, because knowing the fact that with work one can eventually ascertain themselves of knowing many things it gives us hope and strength in learning and hope in living!

Why not try? Why not learn? Why not live? It would only get better!

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