Improvisation can become invisible since it is such a big part of everyday life. In this episode, graduate student Dan DiPiero presents the thesis that social and musical improvisation share a common structure, which is an engagement with contingency.
We know that the personal is political, but do we consider the extent to which the political is also personal? In this rich and lively archived conversation between Paul Watkins and queer Black Canadian dub poet d’bi.young anitafrika (August 2013), hear an animated testament to the necessity for multi-directional critique – looking at the ills of society and also at our own selves. This will wake you up.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, this episode of Sound It Out features songs by women from around the world who make music of an experimental sort. While most of the tracks you will hear are soothing and listenable, there are also a few selections that provide an ‘ear cleaning’ treatment, to use R. Murray Schafer’s expression: they may not be pleasant but the unpleasantness is good for you. Artists: Joëlle Léandre, Catherine Jaunaiux, Ikue Mori, Julianna Barwick, Kim Gordon, Jane Rigler, France-Marie Uitti, Susie Ibarra, and Sainkho Namtchylak.
The research for this episode is influenced in Dana Reason Myers’ doctoral dissertation(2002): The Myth of Absence: Representation, Reception and the Music of Experimental Women Improvisors.
“How does the “idea of north” trope relate to Canadian experimental music today?” In this fascinating talk, Professor Ellen Waterman describes, analyzes, and questions “the symbiotic relationship between public funding and artistic programming and content.” Waterman’s engaging and authoritative style is an enormously welcome way of digesting a wealth of historical and contemporary references, audio samples, and insightful interpretation about experimental music practice in Canada, as it pertains to our understanding of ourselves living with this land over time.
Sound It Out airs on CFRU in Guelph on Tuesdays at 5pm. New episodes usually appear on a fortnightly basis. Sound It Out is produced and hosted by Rachel Elliott in conjunction with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.
In this mostly music version of Sound It Out, you will stroll with me through time and space, including outer space, and meet some of the most groundbreaking musicians of the 20th Century and beyond. From Eleanor Collins, whose eponymous TV series on CBC predated Nat King Cole by a year to make her the first black TV host in North America, to the Womanist dub poet and Doctor of Philosophy Afua Cooper, Wundagurl, Brampton’s pre-eminent bedroom beat-maker turned Grammy nominee, and Mélissa Laveaux who, singing for the first time in créole, refracts haïtian heritage in Radyo Siwèl. Also: Lillian Allen, Portia White, Michie Mee, Salome Bey and more!
How can we know the improvisatory if it only happens one time? In this episode we consider the possibility of knowing a temporal process from the inside, while it is happening. Is it possible to be in the middle of an event unfolding in time and still perform ‘analytical acts’? Or do we need to freeze them and examine them later as if from a bird’s eye perspective? Hear this discussion with music theorist and trombone player Dr. Chris Stover (U of Arizona), who is (fittingly) in the midst developing a two-pronged approach to real-time analysis of improvised music. Also hear a recorded performance by Marshall Trammell (Music Research Strategies) and Kade Twist (Postcommodity), in which they verbally analyze their own music while they make it.
How do we know improvisation? Do we need to define it before we can research it? Or are the characteristics, causes, and effects of improvisation only knowable through that research itself? This episode is the first in a series on epistemological issues surrounding improvisation studies. Definitions of improvisation are presented, and debate over the merits of such definition is had. Post-doctoral research that circumvents the debate entirely concludes the episode: I-Ying Wu’s Daoist approach to practice-based improvisation research. Hear the voices of renowned Canadian novelist Dr. Cecil Foster, Music Professor Dr. Jason Stanyek (University of Oxford), Taiwanese qigong improviser Dr. I-Ying Wu, and award-winning interdisciplinary scholar Dr. Rebecca Caines (University of Regina). Music from Danielle Palardy Roger, Sandy Ewen, Mary Lattimore, and Mahalia Jackson.
Peter Brötzmann is a German Free Jazz saxophonist who has been a key figure in the development of the Free Jazz movement. Hear him in a conversation with animated Newfoundland personality Mack Furlong, recorded live at the Guelph Jazz Festival in September 2017. You will finish this episode with a renewed vision of improvisation’s social impetus! (hint: fighting)
‘History is written by the victor, but in this case history is written by the doctor.’ For the album Audible Songs from Rockwood, the songwriter and performer Simone Schmidt dug into the archival records of the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane, operative between 1856 and 1881. What Schmidt came out with are eleven compelling audible arrangements of songs sung as fictional dramatizations of personalities from the Asylum’s patient directory. Hear a recent discussion with Simone about the the process and purpose of creating this collection of songs, as well as clips from a previous conversation on the topic of character journaling, speaking uncomfortable truths, and the impact of work as a speech facilitator on her song writing process.
German-born Newfoundlander Florian Hoefner plays the piano like a puffin diving into the Atlantic. Or at least he can. He can also tell a wordless tale about the extinct Great Auk, a drifting iceberg, or even the motion of the surging ocean itself. On this episode, hear Florian Hoefner talk about his experience composing a series of improvisations for solo piano, Coldwater Stories, that imaginatively narrate his experiences of the intimate motilities of Newfoundland’s living and abiding natural beings. This episode is best experienced while dancing expansively in the privacy of one’s own living room.
The Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium gets underway on Wednesday September 13! Listen to this episode of Sound It Out to hear music from some of the intriguing performers scheduled to descend onto Guelph this week. Hear the sounds of Bernice, Bass Drum Bone, Animatist, Matthew Shipp, Barnyard Drama, Pierre Kwenders, and Eucalyptus, as well as some improvised commentary from your host Rachel Elliott.
Click here for the Guelph Jazz Festival schedule for 2017.
Click here for the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium schedule.
The paradox in human relationship to wilderness is that despite being understood as a region untouched by human activity, we seek to experience this wilderness at close range. Our quests for wilderness always begin with a human idea about what wilderness is – in cultural signifiers of wilderness. One of the most prominent of these is the Wolf Howl. Hear my discussion with Chief Park Naturalist Rick Stronks of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, and a talk by Sound Artist and Scholar Erik Deluca about how we can overcome the nature/culture distinction in our engagement with the howling wolf (both within and without).
Many of us have attempted to maintain relationships with loved ones across distance using technologies such as the telephone or video chat; we are able to experience a sense of their presence even though they may be thousands of kilometres away. Jason Robinson and others, such as Doug Van Nort and Sara Weaver, make use of this way of being together while apart to make a special kind of music, variously named telematics, distributed performance, networked performance, multi-site performance etc. One particular feature of this mode of connection (and, it turns out, of all of the ways we connect, even ‘in person’) is latency, the experience of delay created by the distance a signal must travel before it is returned to us. Finding out how latency is explored in telematic music gives us fresh and surprising insights into the nature of human perception and what it really means to be present.
Sara Villa gives a moving and insightful account of her use of deep listening as a pedagogy of poetry for college students, Susan Elliott explains improvisation as a facet of the inquiry approach to high school teaching, and Stephanie Khoury revitalizes music education at the university level with her approachable and engaging interactive improvisation software. You never knew teaching and learning could be so exciting!
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph, Ontario on June 20, 2017 at 5pm.
Take in hand this bouquet of strings and let yourself be lead by this cluster of sonic helium balloons. But don’t let your feet leave the ground; today’s exquisitely lengthy musical meandering are interspersed with thought provoking reflections about the the pace of perception and sense-making by Richelle Forsey and Rachel Elliott. Listen and be lulled into serine contemplation!
Why do so many young people uproot themselves and move to the city, searching for culture? What is it that they are looking for? How does their search shape what they find? These are some of the questions that frame this discussion with improviser and scholar, David Lee. David Lee was part of a community of improvising musicians located in Toronto Ontario during the 70s and 80s; he is now completing a dissertation which takes up that history through the critical lens that academic rigour demands. Enjoy this fascinating chat about the places of renewal in creative communities.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on May 23, 2017 at 5pm.
Have you every had someone over to your house, as a guest? Did you spend much time thinking about the ethics of the situation? Of hospitality? In his later work, founding deconstructionist Jacques Derrida turned toward the concept of hospitality as a way to face questions about our ability to engage ethically with alterity, or otherness. In combination with the work of Emmanuel Levinas about our primordial responsibility towards others when confronted with, in particular, their face, Francesco Paradiso brings Derrida’s ideas about hospitality to bear on group improvisation in this talk that cumulates a week’s worth of research as our guest at the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, here at the University of Guelph.
Dr. Francesco Paradiso is a Research Assistant at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. He completed his PhD in 2014 at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph Ontario on May 2, 2017 at 5pm. Sound It Out is produced, hosted, and edited by Rachel Elliott.
Dans ce documentaire 2010, écoutez Meghan Dzyak et Hélène Laurin interviewer les participants du mouvement musique actuelle à Montréal, Québec. Découvrez le développement d’Ambiances Megnetiques à travers ses origines dans L’ensemble de Musique improvisée de Montréal et L’association pour la diffusion de la musique ouverte. Ces entretiens avec Jean Derome, Joane Hétu, Danielle Palardy Roger entre autres éclairent les activités créatives qui sous-tendent la cohésion sociale récemment thematizé dans les rapports sur la tempête de neige de la semaine dernière.
Cet épisode a été diffusé le 28 mars 2017 sur CFRU 93.3FM à Guelph Ontario à 17h.
The philosopher Alfred Schütz points to a ‘mutual tuning-in relationship’ at the foundation of all possible communication. In this episode of Sound It Out we ask you to consider this theme in an audio journey through the Somewhere There creative music festival in Toronto. Explore how relationships of collaborative co-creation occur not only between performers on stage, but also between performers and their audience, as well between musicians considered from a larger angle: what does it take on an arts managerial level to entrench the relationships of inclusivity, exchange, and relationship forged on stage? That is, how do you make these musical relationships last and feed the other points of contact and engagement? Hear discussions with theatre creator Sarah Kitz, drummer and composer Nick Fraser, and a talk by veteran music advocate David Dacks.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario on Tuesday February 28th at 5pm.
You might think that music on a vinyl record is pretty much ‘set in stone,’ that at last we have hit upon a form of music to which improvisation is simply irrelevant. Well it turns out not. Kid Koala is a limitlessly creative scratch DJ from Montréal QC, currently touring his new album Music to Draw To. This episode is a conversation between Kid Koala and Dr. Mark V Campbell, himself a DJ and scholar on DJ culture, from September 2016. They talk about Kid Koala’s origins in classical piano, learning to scratch by sneaking in to his sister’s bedroom, the impossible saga of his first DJ battle, why he learned the blues scale, playing in the band Bullfrog (1994-2004), as well as why he is required to perform in a Koala Bear costume (it’s not by choice).
Lyricists and vocalists and often considered to be the ‘real artists’ in contrast with the activities of the producers they work with. In an article published in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation, Leila Adu-Gilmore challenges this conception of the producer, arguing that their process amounts to music creation in the form of improvised composition. Today hear an intimate reading performed by me of Adu-Gilmore’s paper entitled “Studio Improv as Compositional Process Through Case Studies of Ghanaian Hiplife and Afrobeats.” The reading of the paper is intellectually stimulating, and the examples of the music discussed in it, by Appietus and DJ Breezy respectively, kinetically irresistible: I dare you not to dance!
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM, Guelph’s campus and community radio station on Tuesday January 17th, 2016, at 5pm.
Pauline Oliveros was a paragon of improvisation on many levels, embodying the virtues of reciprocity, openness, justice, and perhaps most of all, listening. Hear music and commentary about sonic meditation, deep listening, lesbian musicality, and Adaptive Use Musical Instruments as we commemorate the passing of this foundational figure in experimental music and affiliate if the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation. Discussion with Ellen Waterman, reflections and poetry by Laura Broadbent.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM, Guelph’s college and community radio station on December 20th, 2016 at 5pm.
There are stories, songs, even full movies, woven into the places where we live our lives. Jenny Mitchell and Iris Fraser-Gudrunas were coming-of-age sidekicks entering Toronto’s DIY art scene in the mid-2000s. Themselves gifted and perspicacious creators of music and multi-disciplinary art, their respective trajectories found them seeking out the stories and symbolism in the surrounding rural environments. Hear how Iris Fraser-Gudrunas used improvisation to make Brother Frank, a filmic response to an encounter with a monk on the Niagara Peninsula – part of a self-implicating exploration of the tactility of craftmanship. Jenny Mitchell tells the rollicking tale of her Golden Bus, which she uses as a mobile venue and sound production studio offering a place-responsive platform for the expression of locally embedded narrative arts. Tune-in as Iris Fraser-Gudrunas’ film Brother Frank is screened on Jenny Mitchell’s Golden Bus!
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario, Tuesday December 6, 2015.
Anthems are a means by which group identity is formed, and without group identity, argues to Professor Tracey Nicholls, the courage and imagination that justice work requires is in short supply. Today we discuss some of the anthems of the Black Lives Matter movement, such as Black Rage by Lauren Hill and Hell You Talmbout by Janelle Monáe. These anthems use improvisation and the ethics embedded in it to articulate shared values and create social memory. This passionate and jocular discussion weaves together peace studies, decolonization studies, and improvisation theory to offer a platform for reflection on the current social and political climate and how best to channel political emotions such as rage.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario on November 22, 2016.
Creative collaboration takes the reigns out of our hands. It demands we let go of control, leave aside our training, skill, mastery, and follow the free play of our embodied imagination. Sink into a hot bath and let the voices of Ellen Waterman and Alessandro Bertinetto warm up those rattly November bones. Waterman talks about her fluting explorations with pianist Dennis Peters during her sabbatical at Cambridge, UK. Bertinetto discusses the implications of Immanuel Kant’s description of beauty on improvisation, conceived as the site of genesis for new avenues of aesthetic communication.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario, on Tuesday November 8, 2016 at 5pm.
Four improvising composers, five great lakes: go. Phil Albert (Bass) and Patrick O’Reilly (Guitar) of Ontario meet with Patrick Booth (Saxophone) and Jon Taylor (Percussion) of Michigan for an intensive, week-long string of performances that embrace improvisation as much as composition. Hear the band discuss composition as a long-form improvisation (and the inverse!), staring down the monument (i.e. facing their recorded music as an autonomous object), and the urgency their regional dispersion gives to their playing when they get together, accentuating the vertiginous ‘now’ at the heart of all improvisation.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario at 5pm on Tuesday October 25, 2016.
Do you remember those hot humid days of summer that threatened to explode into thunderous storms and torrential rain? Listening to this week’s episode of Sound It Out will bring you back into those days, with field recordings, performances, and impromptu conversations taking place at the Electric Eclectics festival in Meaford, Ontario at the end of July, 2016. Hear Faun Fables, Lary 7, Maria Chavez, and Jennifer Castle along with other intriguing improvisatory scenarios! The multi-sensorial encounters occasioned by this three day festival extended the improvisational happenings onstage out into the wild landscape around it, fostering extraneous joy and jest in every resounding sentient present. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on Tuesday October 11, 2016 at 5pm EST.
Spend the next hour bathing in the peaceful guitar sounds of improvising guitarist and musical community builder Ken Aldcroft. Co-founder of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto, the Leftover Daylight Series, the NOW Series, and serving on the board of the Somewhere There musicians’ collective, Ken Aldcroft’s sudden passing on September 17th, 2016 put Canada’s creative music world into a cloud of stunned sadness. Read more about this intrepid musician at http://www.kenaldcroft.com/
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM at 5pm on Tuesday September 27, 2016.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the was a lawless environment on the other side of the Williamsburg Bridge that connects the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Gentrification and the aftermath of 9/11 made the Lower East Side undesirable for burgeoning young musicians, and Williamsburg with its industrial collapse and empty buildings stood waiting. Cisco Bradley of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn speaks with me today about his research into the rise and decline of the Williamsburg music scene. Take a look at his related website: https://jazzrightnow.com/ This discussion is in anticipation of his talk on the subject entitled “Pirate Radio and Bohemian Cafés: The Rise of the Williamsburg Scene in Brooklyn” at the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium this week. Hear Dynasty Electric, Gold Sparkle Band, Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone, as well as Memorize the Sky, recorded live at Read Café.
This episode originally aired on Wednesday September 14th at 7pm on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph Ontario.
Is improvisation a vital constituent of the everyday practices underlying vibrant and healthy psychic life? Marcel Swiboda discusses this idea with me in a detailed look at Of the Refrain by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. We consider historical and technological forces that constrain our ability to improvise daily, and whether professional improvising musicians, such as Ornette Coleman, provide the antidote to a stultifying livelihood characterized by repetition of sameness, rather than difference. This conversation is a preview of the talk Marcel Swiboda (University of Leeds) will give at the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium entitled “Contingent Comportments: Improvisational Modes of Being and Knowing in Music and Everyday Life.” Not to be missed!
This episode originally aired Tuesday September 13, 2016 at 5pm on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario .
The list of jazz innovators who described Buddhism as central to their music and personal purpose is long – Ernestine Anderson, Herbie Hancock, Buster Williams, Richard Davis, Hamid Drake, and Terri Lyne Carrington are just a few. In this episode, Prof. Tracy McMullen discusses the implications of jazz buddhism on how we think about Black Critical Praxis, which, she contends, has been too caught up in the politics of recognition and the performative vision of the subject, as described by theorists such as Judith Butler with a basis in Hegel’s dialectic of self-consciousness. In this energetic and inspiring discussion, Mullen considers the history of jazz as Black Critical Praxis to recommend an improvisatist account of the subject over the widely accepted performative view. Hear songs from Ernestine Anderson and Herbie Hancock.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM at 6pm on Monday September 12, 2016.
The Guelph Jazz Festival has been taking place annually since 1994, attracting world-class performers and audiences to dear friendly Guelph, refreshing our spirits for the back-to-school season. This week’s episode of Sound It Out showcases a selection of music from performers that will be on stage at this year’s event. See the full festival schedule here:
You will hear musical selections and minimalist commentary from your host Rachel Elliott. Featuring songs by Cuban-Canadian pianist David Virelles, Peregrine Falls, and Not the Wind, Not the Flag, Esmerine, Amina Claudine Myers, and Myra Melford. You may be surprised by what you hear in this mostly-music edition of Sound It Out! This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on August 30, 2016 at 5pm.
Imagine wandering around an arboretum and running into pods of musicians, dancers, puppets, and percussive farming equipment amid hundreds of other wandering folk. This is what took place on May 18th, 2016 in the Guelph Arboretum, the culminating event of Douglas R. Ewart’s term as Improviser-in-Residence. Crepuscule brings together diverse communities in a playful, multidimensional improvisation with the natural world with a focus on fostering love acceptance of self and other. This episode is a collage of field recordings peppered with interviews and reflections on the musical events and social collisions that took place on the unseasonably cold day in May 2016. Featuring Environmental Percussion with Richard Burrows, Mino Ode Kwewak N’Gamowak/ Good Hearted Women Singers, Puppets Elora etc.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3 FM, Guelph’s community radio station, on August 16, 2016.
When you look at the mess of equipment in front of electronic musical experimenter Lisa Gamble, your head can start to swim. The mystery of musicianship is always apparent when you observe an instrument not being played. By what sorcery will they coax this object into music? We wonder this about even the most straightforward instruments. The magic in the encounter between the musician and her instruments is the theme of Lisa Gamble’s approach to making wicked glitchy beats out of odd and old adapted electronics. Gamble’s educated-guess, trial-and-error attitude eschews attempts to control or master instruments; she explores and responds, leaving them the autonomy be surprising. The result is fresh, energetic, and often, danceable. This conversation with Lisa Gamble originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM Guelph’s community radio station on July 19, 2016.
The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation has a number of graduate student researchers working with them at the University of Guelph. In this episode you will meet them! There are seven 3-minute speeches by IICSI researchers detailing their interest in improvisation and how they do their research contained in today’s program. One of these speakers is the host of this show, me! You will hear me speak about my motivation and approach to making this show, and why sometimes I under-explain what the show is about. Please add comments below or on our Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/improvisationinstitute) so that I can get a sense of what you think is working and what you think should be improved! In addition to my ramblings you will hear about Toronto improvised music history, avoiding hierarchies through dialogic pedagogy, the improvised archive, the cinema of improvisation, and the ethics of interspecies engagement. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM (cfru.ca) in Guelph, Ontario on July 4, 2016. Send me a tweet @Cs_walk_with_me
What comes to mind when you think about East Germany during the Cold War? Transnational black experimentalism? On today’s episode of Sound It Out historical musicologist Harald Kisiedu traces the development of experimental jazz through the innovative musical dynamo Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. Kisiedu shows how the institutional discourses of the time pinpoint aesthetics as a critical location for the negotiation of political values, particularly surrounding imperialism, democracy, the West, and the Soviet Union. Hear about socialist realism, the specter of decadence, and the rooting of experimentalist influences from the United States in this meticulously researched lesser-known history of an important branch of experimentalism as a transnational phenomenon. This episode initially aired on May 24, 2016 on CFRU 93.3FM at 5 o’clock.
One way of understanding the social importance of improvisation is its accessibility – anyone can improvise with anything, so long as the musical relationships involved respect the rules of improvisatory engagement – good listening, judicious risk taking, responsibility for others etc. The tight and tired world of elitist musical aims is no longer palatable to many of us, and improvisation, whether in the world of contemporary classical music, traditional forms of the folk, or jazz and its progeny, has shown the way forward in the 20th Century.
On a side note, one of the participants in this conversation, Jaclyn Heyen, is currently undertaking a and blogging about a cross-country solo (with dog) motorcycle journey with trailer. Follow her at: http://www.jhblueroad.com/
This conversation with philosopher Eric Lewis of McGill University centres around the question ‘what is music’, or more specifically, ‘what is improvised music?’ Prof. Lewis explains why a consideration of improvised music can re-frame some of the questions traditionally associated with the philosophical study of music, such as how a musical work is related ontologically to a score or composition, and its associated performances. Lewis discusses his proposal to revive intentionalism in aesthetics, making the, I think, highly appetizing suggestion that we ought to think of improvised music according to the vagaries of the representational visual arts, not via the overblown concepts on offer by traditional music ontology. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph Ontario on April 12, 2016, at 5pm.
“Sound work as soul work.” This is how Gary Diggins describes what he does in his chamber of wonders located in the back of Guelph’s ‘venue for adventurous sounds’, Silence. A life-long musician and masterful musical healer, Diggins has worked with individuals and groups around the world using sound to elevate consciousness, promote healing, remind us of our in uterine beginnings, and “listen the world into wholeness.” Hear us discussing his role inMindfulness Without Borders, his Monday morning improvisations with Big Beat, the use of vocables in shamanic therapeutic practices, helping trained singers meet their edge, Alfred Tomatis, Robert Bly, Mind-Up, and more. This episode that aired originally on CFRU 93.3FM on March 29th, 2016.
Can you make a libretto out of an academic book? This is the question George E. Lewis asked and answered during his visit to the University of Guelph on March 4th, 2016. Drawing from the audio recordings of early AACM organizational meetings where members discussed their motivations for forming the Association, Lewis responds in the affirmative, transforming a chapter of his 2009 book A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Musicinto the Opera Afterword. Hear Herald Kisiedu in conversation with Lewis on this episode! Originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on March 15, 2016.
If improvising is sometimes understood as a form of dialogue, what are we to say about solo improvising? Perhaps it should be understood as a dialogue with oneself, or between performer and audience, or performer and their own instrument, or even the performer’s own sonic memories, of trucks, birds, voices. Maybe it has another sort of meaning all together, a sensory-motor, embodied sort of meaning. Maybe it has no meaning at all, in which case we might wonder how it got so lucky, so pure, so empty in this world of over-signification. This past weekend I attended the Somewhere There creative music festival in Toronto at the Tranzac. On this episode you will hear a roundtable discussion moderated by Joe Sorbara featuring the thoughts and sounds of: Peter Luteck, Germaine Liu, Paul Newman, Kyle Brenders, Ken Aldcroft, and Nicole Rampersaud. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on March 8th, 2016.
The weather affects us. This is never more obvious than in the middle of winter! But what would happen if we began to respond to atmospheric influences artistically, rather than just practically? If instead of cinching up our scarves we responded to the falling snow with a little improvised saxophone? And then paired that musical response with dance or video? Does the weather pattern live on, preserved in these artistic mediums, transforming itself with each performance, affecting us with its motion? These are the topics that I discuss with saxophonist, choreographer, and Montreal-based weather artist Adam Kinner. Adam brings us into a way of seeing the aliveness of our environment as a sort of performance, an affective choreography. Prepare for enchantment! This episode of Sound It Out originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario, Canada on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. It is produced in conjunction with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.
The discussion that you’ll hear took place in 2011 between the Hamilton-based scholar, filmmaker, and writing instructor Mauricio Martinez, and scholar, journalist, and improvising sound artist Bob Ostertag. This conversation has a gorgeous pace about it, with Ostertag calmly articulating his thoughts about technology and improvisation, especially electronic musical production. His inviting speaking style will hypnotize you into a reflection on Walter Benjamin’s ideas about the reproducibility of art in relation to today’s digital media distribution. Ostertag also talks about playing with acclaimed improviser and saxophonist Anthony Braxton. I give you a taste of Ostertag’s work with his composition All the Rage, played by the Kronos Quartet and Eric Gupton. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on January 19th, 2016.
This show is about interspecies communication in the context of musical performance. According to today’s guest, Kimber Sider, horses are a sort of barometer for musical connection, since music is not just about sound but is a conduit to a silent embodied layer of meaning that is the basis for empathetic communication, affective connection, and emotional resonance. When Kimber Sider rode her horse Katrina across Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, on her own, she had a lot of time to pick up on the subtle bodily communication happening between her and her horse in the various landscapes, rural cultures, and navigational SNAFUs that her extremely brave endeavor endangered. Check out the documentary Chasing Canada that she made about her ride: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35lJsBnWPjA). Since then Kimber has been working on her PhD in Theater at the University of Guelph, and as part of her research Kimber has set up the most extraordinary sort of ‘laboratory’: Kimber invites improvising musicians to jam with her horses! Check out improvisers David Lee (http://www.davidneillee.com/), Dong-Won Kim (http://www.silkroadproject.org/ensemble/artists/dong-won-kim), and Jesse Stewart (http://www.jessestewart.ca/). We did the interview over Skype in the very final days of 2015 when I was hiding away in the woods for the holidays, so the internet was cutting in and out. This meant that some of Kimber’s words were glitchy and hard to understand. I decided to just over-dub the distorted words with my own voice: the result is thus a technological/sonic reflection of the collaborative nature of intellectual exchange, and the influence a producer can exert over the presentation of another’s speech! This episode originally aired on Tuesday, January 5th, at 5pm on CFRU 93.3FM.
The Social Aesthetics Conference that took place at McGill University in 2010, put on by ICASP (http://improvcommunity.ca), the predecessor for the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (http://improvisationinstitute.ca/), was a consideration of how social, cultural, economic and political forces condition the aesthetic practices and values of improvised performance. This is an archived discussion between researchers Georgina Born, Elizabeth Jackson, Eric Lewis, Ingrid Monson, and Jason Stanyek about how collaborative social practices at the same time they are artistic practices, and vice versa.
This episode reflects on the exuberance of the Decentralized Dance Party from the point of view of a forest’s quiet clearing. I walk and talk with DDP creator Gary Lachance about the past, present, and future of this unique form of participatory public art. Championing the values of decentralization and inclusivity, the DDP facilitates opportunities for people to meet in public places and interact on a deeper level than mere verbal exchange permits; the DDP highlights a strata of connection often ignored by society: a bodily layer of communication that is accentuated in dancing and gestural expression. Commitment to decentralization, however, can exact personal costs for the organizers of these public celebrations. So here Gary Lachance joins me in tilting an ear toward the mother of all decentralization, the forest floor. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on November 24, 2015.
In this archival conversation from 2007 between Amiri Baraka and William Parker, you will hear about the importance of Curtis Mayfield to Black pride and identity, how commercialism leads to divisions in the Jazz world, the way that mixed genre music can best reflect different aspects of one people, like Duke Ellington making a chronology of Black life in one piece of music. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on November 5, 2015.
This episode features live recordings of two of the public talks given during the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium this year (Sept. 16 – Sept. 18). The first is by Rene Meshake and is entitled “The Gift of the Red-Tailed Hawk Flute”. The second is by Kathe Gray of York University and is called “Don’t Worry That It’s Not Good Enough for Anyone Else to Hear”: Finding Voice through Vocal Improvisation”. Both talks were given on Thursday September 17th, 2015. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on October 22, 2015.
This year, Guelph’s Improviser-in-Residence is Douglas R. Ewart of the Art Institute of Chicago, AACM, and Aarawak Records. In this episode of Sound It Out you will hear Ewart discuss his project Crepuscule in an interview with Dr. Ajay Heble that took place the morning of September 17, 2015 as part of the yearly Jazz Festival Colloquium. Ewart talks about the powerful maternal figures in his early life in Jamaica and being inspired by the strength and understanding demonstrated by Thelonious Monk’s wife Nellie, for whom Monk wrote Crepuscule with Nellie. He reflects on the relationship between individual self-respect and group solidarity, and the value of improvising together with a positive valence on diversity. This episode originally aired on CFRU on September 24th, 2015.
Today I talk with artist, musician, singer, researcher, and performer Ruby Kato Attwood about the beginnings of her new research project into voice and identity in contemporary music. Attwood is undertaking library and archive work as well as practice based-research in opera singing in order to understanding how developing this most intimate instrument can open up new subject positions and engender a recognition of the precariousness of voice in the operatic cannon. In this conversation Attwood highlights how some voices have tended to be excluded from opera while also being the unacknowledged source of appropriative compositional gestures. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario, on September 10, 2015.
This episode showcases the work of Navid Navab, a Montreal-based media alchemist, composer/improvisor, audio-visual sculptor, and multidisciplinary artist. Navab’s catalogue of work is diverse and varied, from interactive, public, sound extravaganzas to the design of precision sonic interfaces that make medical perception in the surgery room more intuitive. Underlying this array imaginative creations is a core awareness of the relationship between gesture and sound. Navab’s work uses the familiarity of gestures, such as those involved in cooking or pouring drinks, to re-enchant the objects that accompany those gestures, using sound. By manipulating and transforming the inherent sonic properties of materials we know from everyday life, Navid reacquaints us with the magic and wonder of our embodied experience. This episode originally aired on CFRU on August 27th, 2015.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? No it doesn’t. On this episode of Sound It Out we think about the relationship between art, artifacts and their audiences. Do audiences have to get together in person or can they exist in disparate locations across the globe? Do members of audiences need to know each other in other contexts? What norms govern the behaviour of an audience? McGill’s Prof. William Straw of the Department of Art History and Communications Studies discusses these matters, and I read selections from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason which examines the indirect gatherings involved in a radio broadcast. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on July 30th, 2015.
Musical improvisation that takes place within the confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship can be a way of engaging with a specific traumatic past, and also a technique for fostering mental health overall by cultivating listening, respect for self respect for others, and being in the moment. Deborah Seabrook of the Creative Arts Therapies Department at Concordia University discusses the possibility of using clinical improvisation as a tool in community health. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on July 16th, 2015.
Practice your French with this archival conversation from 2007 with Malian musician Jah Youssouf and Guelph multi-instrumentalist Lewis Melville. Hear them discuss music and family dynamics, coming to Canada form Mali, on not being a griot but being an artist, the social identity of the musician, and the inherently improvisatory nature of playing with other musicians.
Melvin Backstrom, PhD candidate in musicology at McGill University, talks about individuality in relation to the formation of community both in political life and in improvisatory practices. We consider the tension between positive and negative liberty in relation to familiar and experimental forms of music, as well as the difference between collective models of improvisation on the one hand, and the valuation of heroic virtuosity on the other. Join us in thinking about the pitfalls of individualism in political, economic, and musical life! This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guleph, Ontario, Canada on the 18th of June, 2015.
Dr. Sara Ramshaw of Exeter University and Dr. Paul Stapleton of Queen’s University Belfast consider how the virtues of good improvising – listening, responsiveness, appropriate risk-taking, timely intervention – can be used to improve the quality legal of decision making in Northern Ireland. Their symposium, Just Improvisation: Enriching child protection law through musical techniques, discourses and pedagogies, seeks to further the on-going conversation of the Translating Improvisation Research Group (TIRG) about the fundamentally improvisatory nature of the common law tradition, and how can this understanding of law can in turn heighten our sense musical improvisation’s normative dimension. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guleph Ontario on June 4, 2015.
Radio can be a forum for talking about art, and it can also be a form of art itself. Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann of Mobile Radio and Tonic Train discuss the relationship between their sound experiments with electronic music and the relatively untapped potential of radio as an artistic experience. Hear about their involvement in the beginnings of England’s Resonance 104.4FM, and their present relationship with Radia. We discuss the essentially place-specific nature of sound in the context of simultaneous listening communities around the world, tuning-in, being surprised, relinquishing control, and the invitation to participate in creative radio expression.
Christine Duncan talks with me about the development of the Element Choir in the context of her life’s work as an improvising vocalist. She describes how she came up with the unique system of gestural cues that she uses to conduct the choir, her approach to structured improvisation, and her early experiences in church music. In a conversation taking place on a park bench in Toronto, Duncan identifies her natural mimetic instinct and the joy inherent in vocal expression as the deep sources of her musical spring.
The Chicago based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. This episode features an archival conversation conducted by Lincon T. Beauchamp with AACM members Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell at the ICASP Colloquium in Guelph Ontario in 2010. It originally aired on CFRU 93.3Fm on April 23, 2015.
This archival discussion between Paul Watkins and Wayde Compton from 2013 touches on the problem of identity, creativity in tradition, remembering past cityscapes, Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, the DJ as sound archivist, lost sounds, R.Murray Schafer, Kid Koala. and Poetry! Take a look at Wayde Compton’s recent book of stories, The Outer Harbour, published by Arsenal Pulp Press.
Ariel Swan discusses her 2014 album Symphony Plastique, facilitating youth agency through improvisation at Musikaddict, her recently completed Master’s thesis from McGill University. Additionally, hear Kenny Werner talk at the Blue Note on themes from his book Effortless Mastery. This show originally aired on CFRU 93.3 FM on February 26, 2015.
Here we consider how local music scenarios influence and are influenced by the styles and genres or other times and places using the ‘idea-picture’ of the rhisome from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980). Scott Henderson of Brock University talks with me about his research into the musicscape of Saint-Étienne France, discussing the influence of geographic contour (the seven hills), community radio (Radio Dio), economic transition, and international networks on the creation of a local music scene. Hear Raymonde Howard (Lætitia Fournier), Angil (Mickaël Mottet), and the Hidden Tracks, as we think through the way that musical recipes, or deliberate artistic constraints (Cf. Oulipo Saliva), can foster just the kind of formative interactions that some of us might naïvely reserve for ‘purely improvised’ musical formats.
What recordings best convey the live feeling of improvisation? Today we showcase the views of IICSI affiliates about what to listen! David Lee suggests “Ra” by Evan Parker and Paul Lytton; Alexandre Pierrepont recommends Memorize the Sky; Maggie Nicols, Joëlle Léandre, and Lindsay Cooper “Live at the Bastille” is Chris Tonelli’s favourite; and Lisa Lorenzino sticks with the classic, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph Ontario on January 29th, 2015.
Poet and Spoken Word artist Jack Daniel reflects on what it means to bring fragmentation and disjuncture into the improvisational situation. How can words interrupt and provoke our habitual ways of being expressive together? Do they help us say what is unsayable, to acknowledge the underbelly of human existence? This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on January 16th, 2015.
This episode showcases the performance of composer Dan Blake’s new work, Without Walls at Ibeam in Gowanus Brooklyn. In addition to hearing the performance that features musicians Christina Van Alstine, Erin Wight, Yegor Shevtsov, and Kevin Sims, you’ll hear Dan Blake reflect on his relationship to improvising and composing respectively, storytelling and character, and finding inspiration in the Heart Sutra. I speculate on the Freudian meaning of a certain infantile ball game (da-fort). This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph Ontario on December 18th, 2014.
Sound artist and site-specific performer Jen Reimer meditates on her fascination with resonant spaces, explaining how eking out a space to practice the french horn instigated her creative process, and eventually a generative collaboration with sound experimenter Max Stein. Hear recordings of their performances in a former cistern in Mãe d´Agua, Lisboa and an old chimney at Skagaströnd, Iceland. This episode also contains a reading from Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space. Originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on Dec.4, 2014.
Drift through an hour of life with this diffuse and meditative episode, which originally aired on November 20th at 3pm. Hear the latest updates from the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, Marcel Swiboda of School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, UK talk about “Sun Ra’s Philosophical ‘Spiritual Exercises’ and the Improvisational ‘Permutation’ of the Present”, and the poem Glory, Glory by Canadians Al Neil and Kenneth Patchen.
Arwen Fleming reads from Permission (2013) by York University’s S.D. Chrostowska, I improvise a celestial soundscape out of NASA’s outer-space audio archive, Afrofuturist Filmmaker Cauleen Smith talks about her Black Utopia LP, being Sun Ra’s student, and the multidimensional nature of sound, Matt Furlong worries about being too cerebral (the music is the thinking), and Caila Thompson-Hannant of Mozart’s Sister suggests that the final space adventure will go down in our own minds.
Originally airing at 3pm on CFRU 93.3FM on October 23, 2014, this episode considers the relationship between improvisation and composition. I speak with Nick Storring about his tactile composition process on his new album Gardens, musicologist Chris Stover on the value and limits of scores as well as his understanding of Beat Span, and Guleph improviser Ben Grossman reflects on his preference for music that disappears. Hear part of his album Macrophone: Aleatoric Solo Duets for Electro-Acoustic Hurdy Gurdy, as well as Fred Ho’s Sweet Science Suite and Rotary Connection’s Magical World.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on October 9th at 3pm. In it: Sean Michaels on Tanya Tegaq, Pamela Dwyer of the Cagibi and Mozart’s Sister on gender in the music industry, James Hale on jazz and John Stetch, Neelamjit Dhillon on his project Komagata Maru, Jeff Bird and Jeff Cairns on musical instruments as the storehouses of traditional music, and much much more.
This episode originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on September 24th at 3pm. It features Chris Tonelli speaking about boundary pushing vocalist Jeanne Lee, Dana Reason on disrupting the body in order to find an improvising voice, and composer Kip Haaheim about how to find the musical underpinnings in speech. All of these conversations took place at the Guelph Jazz Festival earlier in September.
This hour welcomes Dong-Won Kim to Guelph as Improviser-In-Residence. We learn of Dong-Won’s relationship with Korean traditional music, to loneliness and improvising, inspiration and digestion. Hear him playing with Jesse Stewart, Jeff Bird, and Jeff Cairns, and in conversation with Daniel Fischlin, as well as Danica Evering, and Alissa Firth-Eagland of CFRU’s The Secret Ingredient.
This special hour travels through the Sound Symposium in St. John’s Newfoundland with the members of the Summer Institute of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.The theme for this episode is overcoming aversion to discomfort through group improvising. The Summer Institute brought together scholars and practitioners of all descriptions, not everyone skilled in every variety of improvisation. We pushed our boundaries and came face to face with the normative limits of much performance styles. Hear George Blake and I interviewing the founder of the Symposium, Kathy Clark-Wherry, as well as Memorial University Archivist, Colleen Quigley, who likes to recollect this bi-annual event through the visual imagery of the event posters. The Harbour Symphony and local opinions on it. Anders Eskildsen on Sound Painting, Chris Tonelli and Un-piched Singing, and Jason Cullimore speaking about the evolutionary origins of music as a way of group bonding, articulating why we feel more able to take expressive risks in groups than on our own: these are all patches in this episode’s quilt! This originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on August 18, 2014.
If you didn’t get enough of Cardew and the gang in the previous episode, don’t worry, there’s more of Illa Carrillo Rodríguez, Gascia Ouzounian, Paragraph 7 (this time lead by Ouzounian and sung by a mob of innocent strangers). Hear an excerpt from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, and the always remarkable Marcel Swiboda, “Thinking and Acting Collectively Along the Lines of Cornelius Cardew”. This originally aired on CFRU on Monday August 4, 2014.
Hear Post-doctoral researcherIlla Carrillo Rodríguez discuss cosmopolitanism in experimental music of the 1960s, and Gascia Ouzounian of Queens University Belfast reflect on leading performances of Cornelius Cardew’s Paragraph 7 in all sorts of circumstances. Listen to the The Monday Night Choir perform Paragraph 7, lead by Dina Cédric, as part of the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, and the encyclopedia and inexhaustible Benjamin Piekut talk about “Improvisation and Indeterminacy in London: 1965-1975.” This hour originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM on July 21st, 2014.
This is smorgasbord where Sound It Out searches around for its form and identity by taking up everything around it, including The Guelph Dance Festival, McGill Conductor Eleanor Stubley, Montreal’s own Katherine Peacock and Blind Love/White Light, a bit of reading from Hegel’s Aesthetics, and a talk by Michael MacDonald called the Decentralized Dance Party Manifesto:‘Boomboxes, Anarchy, and the Commons.’” This hour originally aired on CFRU 93.3FM, on July 3rd, 2014.