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 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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.