I will create a suite of new improvisative, obliquely narrative, experimental pieces for the solo guitarist. The bursary award will grant me time to research ways in which to effectively incorporate elements transposed from narrative forms (e.g. the manipulation of genre expectations) into my solo practice with its physical techniques and interactive tactics that I have developed systematically over twenty years. In addition, I will explore the ways in which studio-based techniques (editing, montage, etc.) may be used as a fluid compositional strategy in the context of improvisative work….
My solo practice was built on my studies with improviser-composers such as Wadada Leo Smith, and periods of independent study in 2003 during which I transposed to the guitar improvisative techniques of pianists such as Marilyn Crispell and Keith Tippett, and in 2008 during which I incorporated techniques from drummers such as Rashied Ali and Tony Oxley. I aim to expand on this practice by transposing to the musical domain, elements of genre manipulation found in works by writers such as Jeff VanderMeer and film-makers such as Bong Joon-ho. In addition, I aim to amplify these possibilities via the interactions between improvisation and studio-based compositional strategies.
To this end, in addition to my independent studies, I will consult with film-maker Han-Ter Park to explore aspects of cinematic techniques relevant to this project, and work closely with mentors improviser and composer Richard Barrett, and composer and sound artist Annette Krebs. Barrett and Krebs have unique insights into the intersection of improvisation and composition, the incorporation of programmatic and/or narrative elements, and studio-based techniques.
I am very, very grateful for the support of the Arts Council, and my collaborators. I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to work on this project, and I am very much looking forward to sharing this work with you. Please stay tuned: I will be announcing soon ways you can follow this work-in-progress.
I am very happy to announce that I will begin writing on the practice of improvisation and, and for, the adventurous guitarist. I aim to create a resource for both educators and practitioners, and the Cork City Council Arts Office has awarded me an Individual Artists’ Bursary to begin this work. As I wrote in my proposal:
A technical and practical text, it [the monograph] will be a unique and much needed contribution to the literature for, and about, the improviser and the experimental guitarist. My goal is to create a work for broad circulation that becomes a teaching, learning and theoretical resource for practitioners generally.
I aim to create a work that is part technical instruction for the guitarist with a working knowledge of musical improvisation, and a broader exploration of creative possibilities in the context of real-time, interactive performance. As a practitioner’s report, the work will not only be a reflection on the evolution of my practice and personal pedagogy, but will also be an invitation to the reader to similarly engage with their practice.
I will also be working with mentor-collaborators, and I am grateful to guitarist, improviser and composer Nick Didkovsky, improviser, composer and researcher Owen Green, and composer-improviser, researcher and mentor Richard Barrett for agreeing to read and comment on my work.
Please stay tuned: there are more parts of this project to be announced, and I will share parts of this project as they become ready.
Catherine, Nick and I had a fantastic time when we performed at The Vortex in August, and I am very happy to be able to support the venue (with its amazing crew) in this way. Plus, for those who’ve been asking me for a solo recording, here’s a super rare chance to pick up a new one.
Album available to stream via the free Bandcamp app, and download in multiple formats including lossless.
Note of thanks for the performances in Manchester, Cambridge and London. Thanks in particular to our hosts (their partners and cats) and organizers: David Birchall and everyone at Tubers; David Grundy; and Alex Ward at Boat-ting (and hope you feel better soon, Sibyl Madrigal). Kudos to all the performers who shares the stage, and to Peter Fay for the documentation [more images…]. And, as always, thanks to all those who came to hear real-time music!
As for The Uncanny Dom Lash and The Astonishing Corey Mwamba, I’ll take off my hat, and bow down, to your formidable and generous musicality (a diabolical combination). I think we made music sometimes brittle, always unexpected, with no gesture lost in play.
Some things to take away from this micro-tour: talking ‘scene’ (creative communities and geographies) with David Birchall, Rex Casswell, Corey and Cathy Heyden; paying The Racially Diverse Trio of Nerdy Guys in comics (thanks to Free Comic Book Day); revisiting my take on soundart and music; finding, with Dom and Rex, unexpected musical possibilities in the imagined names of the royal baby; watching Bark! in motion—off and on-stage—an ensemble that plays like a joke where the punchline never arrives (and it’s awesome); Dom saying that “the details need to work harder”; Steve Beresford telling tales of improvised music past and present; being reminded what an imaginative, crafty and resourceful drummer Steve Noble is (he gives so much for his partners to work with); witnessing the joy of someone coax the musical from unmusical resources (Sonic Pleasure sounding masonry); performing our last gig while Dom’s bass gained a buzz and my guitar’s bridge pickup cr*pped out….
…Talking of which, if you’ll excuse me, I have a guitar to open-up and examine (and hopefully repair before Belfast).
For those of you who were interested in such things… a couple of exercises/studies (the second inspired by one of Brahms’) I’ve been working on for a few days. Very rough, and very much work-in-progress. No commentary or breakdown (yet), but let me know if you have questions. More to come…
Please help me make a little noise.* I’ve managed to get through a year without a functioning guitar amplifier, choosing instead to rely on whatever amp the venue can offer, or borrow one as needed. (And, anyway, my old amp was a battered, world-traveling, budget-airline-surviving, gutted-then-kluged-together, 15 year old Polytone.) For friends and family who’d been wondering what to get me as a gift, and for those generous souls who’d like to help out this itinerant musicians, here’s your answer :
All donations will go to the purchase of a new amplifier (and, depending on the breaks, an amp cover or bag). With a little luck, you’ll be hearing the results soon. Thanks. Thanks. And Thanks.
* and by noise, I mean:
12–30-14: closed collection. Thanks for your generosity.
Just a quick note of thanks to Chris Larkin, luthier based on a peninsula of a peninsula in Ireland. Chris just setup Esprit, and thanks to him, I got introduced to linen-plastic composite as a nut material, and now know that my preferred action is 1mm on the treble side and 1.3mm on the bass.