Stet Lab is, and has been for some time, on indefinite hiatus. [More info…]

Lab on hiatus: thanks for listening

Stet Lab is, and has been for some time, on indefinite hiatus.

As previously stated, this site exists as an archive of Lab activities between November 2007 and April 2011: you can listen to the recordings, and read the reports.

If you are an improviser looking for performance opportunities in and around Cork, please contact the former curator Han-earl Park who may be able to help.

Thanks for visiting.

Improvisation Workshop April 7th 2017

Not an official Stet Lab event (the Lab is still on hiatus), but fans of the alternatively pedagogical space that was Stet Lab should be interested in this group improvisation workshop. The workshop will be lead by drummer Mark Sanders (Stet Lab guest artist February 2009), double bassist Dominic Lash, guitarist Han-earl Park (Stet Lab curator 2007–2011), and vocalist and electronics performer Caroline Pugh.

Caroline Pugh, Mark Sanders, Dominic Lash and Han-earl Park (copyright 2016 Jordan Hutchings, 2016 Bruce Coates, Andrew Putler, 2010 Seán Kelly, and 2014 Han-earl Park)

Photos © Jordan Hutchings/Bruce Coates/Andrew Putler/Seán Kelly.

Friday, 7 April 2017

2:30 pm (setup: 1:10 pm)

Aula Maxima (UCC) [map…]
Cork, Ireland

Are you a musician, artist, sound-maker or composer wanting to make music collectively? Are you an improviser in jazz, rock, folk or other tradition wishing to engage across traditions? Are you a performer finding it difficult to bridge the frameworks of idiom and the promise of open, free-play of improvisation? Are you an aspiring free improviser?

A practical, playful, hands-on masterclass, this workshop will offer a unique opportunity for performers to participate in musical interactions, and create spontaneous musical expressions. In addition to learning to realize the possibilities of improvisative play, the workshop will be an opportunity to meet and interact with local, national, and international practitioners of improvised musics.


web clear-out: audio recordings 2007–2008

A quick heads-up: I will be removing some of the audio recordings of Stet Lab’s first year (prior to the November 2008 event). [Listen…]

I’ll be removing the audio recordings in August 2013, so you have a few months to download any recordings that you may want to listen to again. I hope to keep enough of the recordings online to give a sense of the Lab’s activities, and, if you have any particular favorites, please let me know in the comments below.

Lab reports 2008–2011: an index

Between June 2008 and April 2011, fourteen author-practitioners documented over nineteen events from the POV of the stage. The Lab reports were an opportunity for the improviser-musician-performers to explore and explode the processes and practices of music in general, and improvisation in particular. These reports ranged in tone from the oblique, the whimsical, and the matter-of-fact; at times questioning and critical, at times celebratory. Some were short notes of thanks, others shaggy dog stories. Here’re the complete table of contents:

Han-earl Park, April 11, 2011: ‘Lab report 2007-2011: signing-out as curator’

“As previously announced, after thirty-two events over three and a quarter years, I’ve stepped down as curator of Stet Lab as of February 2011.”

Corey Mwamba, December 9, 2010: ‘Lab report december 6th 2010: thank you!’

“It always helps if the other people are wanting to do the same thing and I think that happened—there were some lovely moments where things really came together. I was even relaxed enough to go on the drums—which as I am sure you’ll hear, was a mistake, but a relaxed mistake.”

Susan Geaney, December 6, 2010: ‘Lab report november 15th 2010: let the rant begin…’

“We improvisers dig the ego or can’t escape it. Like a game of snakes and ladders, we chop and change direction every 2–5″.”

Colm Pattwell, November 23, 2010: ‘Lab report october 11th and november 15th 2010: humming, buzzing’

“One thing I want to hear is someone just grooving on something limited or ‘standard’ for want of a better word. For all the different music being played at the lab, sometimes it just doesn’t sound that different to itself!”

Han-earl Park, April 26, 2010: ‘Lab report april 12th 2010: consequences of actions’

“A single quote… can have interesting and problematic consequences for interaction. The effectiveness of the quote—to be able to collapse and redirect and improvisation—is also what makes them hard to deal with.”

John Godfrey, April 23, 2010: ‘Lab report april 12th 2010: kudos’
Han-earl Park, April 7, 2010: ‘Lab report march 8th 2010: 3+1 questions’

“Is ‘success’ (however that’s defined) a meaningful idea in approaching (as listener or performer) improvisation?”

Ruti Lachs, February 7, 2010: ‘Lab report january 11th 2010: get together and make weird noises’

“I played some stuff that I couldn’t recognise as a tune, but the audience seemed to recognise it as valid, cos they clapped, and even laughed once or twice at the funny bits!”

Han-earl Park, January 26, 2010: ‘Lab report december 7th 2009: futzing’

“Neither ‘intentional’ (‘deliberate’ and ‘authorial’) nor ‘noise’ (e.g. the Cagian denial of agency). These things—‘noise’/‘intention’—exist on a line, and it isn’t so much about riding the border between them, but steeping off that line. We want to enter a space that is not about control, nor the lack of it, but about surprises, densities and irregularities; about relationships—differences and negotiations….”

Han-earl Park, November 21, 2009: ‘Lab report november 10th 2009: history and lineage’

“I want, at bare minimum, to be able to play—to have a relationship with the guitar that is technically accomplished—but I also want to want to be heard—that listeners/audiences would seek out my playing and my performances.”

Han-earl Park, November 2, 2009: ‘Lab report october 12th 2009: a conversation with eliza’

“Most of my work in the last few years has been in the jam session mold. People fly in, or I fly out, and there’s an ad-hoc meeting. What I miss is the band.”

Piaras Hoban, October 20, 2009: ‘Lab report October 12th 2009: be no shelter to these outrages’

“low end light a little
“blow tap tap wind
“blow tap tap wind tap

Han-earl Park, July 3, 2009: ‘Lab report June 8th 2009: play different’

“I did have fun, but I think I also realized (remembered?) why I’d been avoiding this particular mode of interaction. It’s too easy; the choices are the most obvious. It’s like movies that, uncertain of the intelligence of their audience, get loaded with too much exposition.”

Veronica Tadman, June 13, 2009: ‘Lab report June 8th 2009: the alarm will sound if you don’t back away’

“So, why was it annoying me? I think it’s because I love control. (Why then am I interested in performing improvisation?) I wasn’t in control of the alarm: one could argue that I wasn’t in control of my fellow improvisers, but my argument to that is, if I wanted to I could have pulled the plug and prevented power. Also as we were an ensemble my input had a consequence on what happened (especially with what Piaras [Hoban] was doing because i was linked to his computer). Likewise he was in control of what happened with my input so it was almost like equilibrium.”

Han-earl Park, June 10, 2009: ‘Lab report May 11th 2009: parking your idiom’

“…I want the listening experience to be rich and interesting. If you’re sharp, you’d have caught it, made connections, and patted yourself on the back for being a clever listener; if not, well, no biggie, hopefully there’s enough complexity to provide ear-candy and (unintended) connections.”

Han-earl Park, May 25, 2009: ‘Lab report April 14th 2009: little instruments’

“My mentors include those who enroll gargantuan complex of musical resources and those who do not. How do I figure in this equation? There are, of course, pragmatic dimensions to this… but nonetheless what are the political/ideological implications of subscribing to one position?”

Ros Steer, April 1, 2009: ‘Lab report March 10th 2009: beginner bassist’s blathering blog’

“Leaving aside any personal taste in the aesthetics of sound, I think it’s more fun to perform together. I don’t mean that the performers should always be ‘in tune’ with each other or mimicking each other but just in tune to each other.”

Han-earl Park, March 29, 2009: ‘Lab report March 10th 2009: the possibility of failure’

“There’s a logic to the… abandonment of safety nets. Their absence can reveal who you are (and might be) without those prothesis. In engineering terms, by removing a component, you can test out the behavior of the rest of the (cyborgian) system…. What I discovered wasn’t exactly wonderful.”

Han-earl Park, February 23, 2009: ‘Lab report February 10th 2009: train wrecks and other fascinating disasters’

“I’m not sure what ‘opposite’ might mean in a musical-performance context (never mind one in which identities and relationships are being (re)negotiated in real-time). Isn’t saying that this (performance infected by agendas, etc.) is not improvisation, akin to saying that polemical or ideological disagreements are not democratic?”

Andrea Bonino, February 22, 2009: ‘Lab report February 10th 2009: on playing and being played’

“In the best moments when music really works, I still have the impression that music is coming through the musicians, and the musicians receive it and transmit it more or less like a radio set… think about that weird and beautiful sound that came out of your instrument almost by accident, and that you are trying to recreate with no success and you get the picture.”

Han-earl Park, January 30, 2009: ‘Lab report 2007-2009: how to run an improvised music club’

“Whether you would want to organize a regular improvised music event depends on what you’re looking to gain from it. Stet Lab, for me, is partly a long-term scene-building exercise; it is, at times, a place of research into the pedagogical, sociological and political dimensions of improvisative practice; an excuse to bring over practitioners whose work I am excited about; and a place to play.”

Han-earl Park, January 18, 2009: ‘Lab report January 12th 2009: healthy disrespect for the comfort zone’

“I’ve been prone to sports metaphors in the past, but Murray [Campbell] came up with a new one: table tennis. A great game of table tennis is not one that you score points, but in which all your resources—your body, your mind, your training—tells you one thing, but circumstances outwit you. You reach for the ball, but it ball heads in a completely different direction. You loose a point, but you go wow, how did that happen?

Veronica Tadman, January 18, 2009: ‘Lab report January 12th 2009: detoxes really do work’

“I cannot quite figure out what was the key factor that made this months Lab stand out above the rest: Was it Murray [Campbell]? Was it the large crowd? The press release that constantly went on about a party?”

Han-earl Park, December 16, 2008: ‘Lab report December 9th 2008: when is a cliché a cliché’

“Are my gestures the same size? are my ideas-per-minute constant? I think, on a good day, on the microscopic level, my playing exhibits (complex / interesting / infuriating / contradictory) variation, but I fear that, on a macroscopic level, it’s often (simple / boring / predictable / coherent) uniformity that rules the day. Am I getting too comfortable in this space?

Kevin Terry, November 24, 2008: ‘Lab report November 10th 2008: mindful auto-pilot nonsense’

“The aspiration for this month’s Lab (though I admit I decided on it less that five minutes before playing) was to play quasi-logically; pick a strategy and don’t budge… So I decide early on… to shadow Andrea [Bonino] and try to limit myself to playing while he isn’t. This is then complemented/complicated by playing pianissimo lyrically when he is playing. This is maintained throughout.”

Han-earl Park, November 20, 2008: ‘Lab report November 10th 2008: out of my depth’

“…By and large, if my adrenaline-choice-machine was doing anything, it was always looking for the nearest, most convenient route, avoiding interesting, circuitous options—the ones that lead off-the-edge into ugly-beutiful spaces and serendipitous-contradictory relationships.”

Veronica Tadman, November 19, 2008: ‘Lab report November 10th 2008: the rockstar wannabes’

“…As the only performer that doesn’t have an instrument that is material to hide behind, I often feel exposed and perhaps somewhat uncomfortable; this has consequently had a knock-on affect on my performance. However, not so much this month.”

Han-earl Park, October 16, 2008: ‘Lab report October 9th 2008: being paul desmond’

“Searching for a way to operate in this group, I was trying to reach Braxton’s Desmond in my musical personality (i.e. carefully considering many choices, but selectively executing only a small number of them). And that’s not a position I’ve tried to occupy in a long time…. It turned out, however, to be an interesting scheme for generating tactics in real-time, if not one that I feel compelled to return to.”

Tony O’Connor, July 30, 2008: ‘Lab report July 10th 2008: consequences of a noisy head’

“Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the insurmountable difficulties of the situation forced my mind to give up and get on with it…. The problem, I think, is that this type of improvisation should be an immediate response, and every time a thought gets in the way, it puts a filter between the event and the response. There are times in the first piece where this barrier breaks down, like the strange antiphony section, but mostly I was just quietly panicking along to my own internal monologue. ‘An E major? What are you THINKING!? Oh great, some more string noise, yeah, that’ll win them over… Muppet.’”

Han-earl Park, July 25, 2008: ‘Lab report July 10th 2008: fitting the square piece into that triangular hole’

“You know… that you’ve lost the game in improvisation when you’re preempting the music. You don’t want to be thinking this is how it should be, goddamnit, and I will fit that square piece into that triangular hole. Much more fruitful is to approach the problem almost like resource management: given our context, what can we do? given our current location, where can we go? given where we’ve been, how we’ve travelled, what exciting places could this route(s) lead us? This becomes a question of possibilities—what we can make of what we have (and who we are).”

Melanie L. Marshall, July 7, 2008: ‘Lab report June 12th 2008: thoughts of a newbie improviser’

“Now I know what goes through a newbie improviser’s head, or at least through this newbie’s head: sheer terror.”

Han-earl Park, June 26, 2008: ‘Lab report June 12th 2008: being the odd-one-out’

“Secondary problem with this strategy: although ‘having plenty of time to think about my re-entrance’ is indeed a luxury, like a lot of ‘prepared means’, they come with Improviser’s Hazard No. 697: exactly when would be a good time to act?”

Eoin Callery, June 17, 2008: ‘Lab report June 12th 2008: noisiest “hoedown”’

“A special mention must be made of the vocal talents of two heavily intoxicated eastern european (they never quite managed to explain exactly where they were from!) who entered the fray at various points. People may say that you could never perform something like Zappa’s ‘Lumpy Gravy’ live—well given the right balance of whatever they were on, they may decide to stage it yet….”

redirect: Stet Lab has moved!

Stet Lab has moved. The new site is at Please update your bookmarks for the site and the corresponding web feeds.

This site ( will remain as an archive of Lab activities between November 2007 and April 2011.

Lab report 2007-2011: signing-out as curator

As previously announced, after thirty-two events over three and a quarter years, I’ve stepped down as curator of Stet Lab as of February 2011. The duties of running the Lab now are in the very capable hands of Veronica Tadman, Tony O’Connor, Athos Tsiopani with curatorial duties handled by Kevin Terry (Kevin and Tony performed at the very first Lab!). I’d like to thank all of them, Kevin, Veronica and Eoin Callery in particular, for their work keeping this no-budget, alternatively pedagogical space on track over the years. (And thanks for the whisky y’all!—sorry I was too taken to make a proper speech.)

My thanks also to all the guest artists who have shared the stage with us, generously contributing to, and transforming, this practice. There’s too many names to mention, but I’d like to thank, in particular, two club-runners, Bruce Coates (who with Sarah O’Halloran and I kicked-off Stet Lab in November ’07) and Mike Hurley for their advice, cautionary tales and encouragement; to Murray Campbell, Franziska Schroeder and John Godfrey who took time out of their busy schedules, and stepped-up when others would/could not; and to Corey Mwamba, Ian Smith, Justin Yang and Alex Hawkins for encouraging words, and an unwavering belief in grass-roots music organizations. Special thanks to Paul Dunmall, Mark Sanders and Don Malone; heavy-hitters who believed in the Lab enough to participate with neophyte improvisers in what must be, by their standards, a low-key event.

Kudos to Jesse Ronneau for supporting improvised music, and the aims of the Lab in particular, during his time in Cork. I apologize for the many whose name I’ve not listed, but y’all have my warmest thanks, and my sincerest admiration for your contributions—we are a better space for it!

Of course, the biggest thanks go to everyone who participated as listener (and I am thinking in particular of the regulars who come every month!), and to those brave ones who jump-in the deep-end!

Signing-off as curator: Thanks, thanks, thanks and thanks to y’all!

BTW, some of my observations about running this space around the half-way point of my tenure as curator are at ‘Lab report 2007-2009: how to run an improvised music club’.

Stet Lab February 7th 2011: audio recordings

Audio recordings of the February 2011 Stet Lab are now online. (Apologies for the delay due to the transitions backstage at the Lab. Things will be back on track within the coming months.)

Han-earl Park, Stephen Davis and Kevin Terry (photos by, and copyright, Julia Healy)

Han-earl Park, Stephen Davis and Kevin Terry (photos: © 2011 Julia Healy)

Major thanks to Stephen Davis for taking time to visit. In the company of this fine drummer and compelling thinker, the event was a very real meeting of musical minds and bodies, and I think we’ve all been transformed. Thanks also to The Real-Time Company (for the Ad-Hoc Association) of… Helena Reilly, Kevin Terry and Dan Walsh, to everyone else who performed (Jonathan Deasy, Tonynho Dos Santos, Tony O’Connor, Han-earl Park, Colm Pattwell and Athoulis Tsiopani), and to the entire backstage Lab crew including Veronica Tadman, Kevin, Tony, Athoulis and photographer Julia Healy [see the photographs (new window)…].

And last but not least, thanks to the everyone who came to listen and support this event.

As with all the recordings since December 2008, this month’s recordings are covered under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. [More info…]

Stet Lab April 11th 2011

Stet Lab featuring the young, up-and-coming bass-player and looper Anthony O’Connor will take place on Monday, April 11, 2011, upstairs @ The Roundy, Castle Street, Cork, Ireland [map…]. Up-to-date details…

Stet Lab featuring Tony O’Connor

Monday, 11 April 2011

9:00 pm (doors: 8:45 pm)

Upstairs @ The Roundy [map…]
Castle Street
Cork, Ireland

€6 (€3)

The monthly event, Stet Lab, returns on Monday April 11th, upstairs at The Roundy Bar, Castle Street, Cork City. An established platform for all things hybrid, (dis)functional and mutated, sees Stet Lab bass player, Tony O’Connor takes his debut as the headline act.

Kerry born Bass player Tony O’Connor is an award winning Cork based improviser and solo performer, having been given the prestigious ‘Donal ‘Doc’ Gleeson award for Musical Performance in 2008. Regularly seen at Stet Lab, O’Connor has performed alongside such improvisers as: Mike Hurley, Don Malone and Alexander Hawkins; and as a member of the Jitney Trio and Mersk, he is a well conversed and talented Improviser. His highly kinetic and tactile approach to his instrument mixed with empathy for space makes his performances vivacious. “Performing with Tony is like a breath of fresh air,” says Stet Lab regular Veronica Tadman. “I have performed with Tony on several occasions and find that his sensitivity towards other improvisers, yet his solid presence, makes improvising with Tony a pleasure both from a listening and performance point of view.” Other projects include playing bass for an award winning band ‘Drop Hats,’ and co-founder of the KDYS band in Kerry. Tony has also performed in China and featured on Chinese TV.

Also performing at the event will be Stet Lab’s house band, a group of Cork-based improvisers appearing as The Real-Time Company (for the Ad-Hoc Association) Of.

The event will begin at 21:00 and entry has been reduced to €6 (€3).

Stet Lab March 14th 2011

Stet Lab featuring Danny McCarthy and Kevin Terry will take place on Monday, March 14, 2011, upstairs @ The Roundy, Castle Street, Cork, Ireland [map…]. Up-to-date details…

Stet Lab featuring Danny McCarthy and Kevin Terry

Monday, 14 March 2011

9:00 pm (doors: 8:45 pm)

Upstairs @ The Roundy [map…]
Castle Street
Cork, Ireland

€6 (€3)

Cork’s monthly improvised music event—Stet Lab—continues its fourth season of on-stage mutations and hybrids on Monday, March 14th 2011, upstairs at The Roundy Bar, Castle Street, Cork City. This regular, yet unique meeting between novice and veteran improvisers alike stays close to home and welcomes Cork-based improvisers Danny McCarthy and Kevin Terry.

Seen on a regular basis performing as part of the Quiet Club, Danny McCarthy is a pioneer in the performance of art and sound. His work has been used both on TV and radio and taken him around the world including installations at Hearing Place, Melbourne, Australia; and Museo Fotografia, Milano, Italy.

McCarthy’s respect of space and his surroundings has a key influence on his performance. “The sounds I tend to use have a universality and the work should work in any culture,” says McCarthy in an interview with Slavka Sverkova. “Space influences my work hugely and I really enjoy working with space as a medium. I tend to let the space form the work rather that trying to impose the work in the space.” This passion and ethos should create a night of Improvisation that allows the listener to experience sound and improvisation as apart of the process.

Performing alongside Danny McCarthy is Kevin Terry, a regular to Stet Lab, Terry’s guitar playing should contrast McCarthy’s soundscape, creating a diverse sonic experience.

Also performing at the event will be Stet Lab’s house band, a group of Cork-based improvisers appearing as The Real-Time Company (for the Ad-Hoc Association) Of.

The event will begin at 21:00 and entry has been reduced to €6 (€3).

Stet Lab February 7th 2011 (reminder)

Stet Lab takes place this coming Monday (February 7th), upstairs @ The Roundy. The event will feature the exciting Belfast-based drummer and composer Stephen Davis with guitarist Han-earl Park. [Details…]

The evening will open a performance by Helena Reilly (voice), Kevin Terry (guitar) and Dan Walsh (drums).

Should be a good one. We hope to see y’all there! Han-earl, who will be stepping down from curatorial duties with this event, would like to thank everyone who supported the Lab over the last 3+ years!

…In the meantime, here’s a couple of contrasting clips of Davis in action. With Matthew Bourne and Dave Kane:

…and with Pedro Rebelo and Franziska Schroeder: