improvisation, animation, sociality, tradition and politics (a Jazz Noise: 7 Questions)

Want to know what and who I’ve been listening to? or what I’ve got planned (hint: see video above)? read my take on the late-capitalist (spotified, airbnbified, uberized) bootleg economy? or how about my non-musical influences:

Politics.

Even in these so-called cynical times I find politics (in, for example, the interactions between basement-level activism, and the, to quote Zappa, ‘entertainment division of the military-industrial complex’; in the friction between good, sometimes great, journalism, and the for-profit-lubricated popularity-contest we call publishing) inspiring.

Other things…?

Animators whose subject matter are things like movement, weight, physics, physiology, intent, volition, presence, personality, empathy, when their materials, in many respects, are working against those expressions. It helps to remind those of us who work in practices where it is too easy to take those same things—movement, weight, physics, physiology, etc.—for granted because they are so effortlessly part of the form. [Read the rest…]

Over at a Jazz Noise, you can read my answers to Dave Foxall’s 7 Questions such as my take on collaboration or what I seek in collaborators:

Imagination, skill and reliability. In that order.

Probably.

Someone who has a levelheaded understanding (consciously or not) of their niche within the transnational improvised music ecology….

I gravitate towards improvisers who are always prepared for that which is, in a way, unforeseeable.

Also people who can patch the holes and weaknesses in my musical skill-set. So, thinking about those three-quarters of Sirene 1009, I think: Dom Lash’s assured, steady-handed control of his technique and sound-making; Mark Sanders’ range, seemingly boundless imagination, ability anticipate anything and everything, and ability to make sense musically regardless of what surrounds him; and Caroline Pugh’s handle and knowledge of genre, and how she seemingly can just jump in regardless of context. I think the various ways we move—our bodies and their relationship with the instruments, say—complement each other.

(I’ve said this before, but getting a group together is a kind of composition.) [Read the rest…]

Plus, the “opening track [from ‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000)]—Psychohistory III (very Asimov!)—[is] exclusively available to a Jazz Noise readers (hear it here and nowhere else, folks) for this interview.” [Listen/read the rest…].

selected discography

Cover of ‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)

Sirene 1009 (BAF000) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Dominic Lash (double bass), Mark Sanders (drums) and Caroline Pugh (voice and tape recorder).

© + ℗ 2017 Han-earl Park.

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet).

© 2015 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2015 SLAM Productions.

jazzColo[u]rs: al ritmo afasico della chitarra

‘Han-earl Park: al ritmo afasico della chitarra’, jazzColo[u]rs (Sommario Ago./Set. 2015, Anno VIII, n. 8-9)
© 2015 jazzColo[u]rs. Photo by Fergus Kelly.

The current edition of jazzColo[u]rs (Sommario Ago./Set. 2015, Anno VIII, n. 8–9) has an interview with me by Andrew Rigmore. It covers a broad range of my work, from my close collaboration with Catherine Sikora, my working relationships with Paul Dunmall, Evan Parker, and drummers such as Mark Sanders, Charles Hayward, Gino Robair and Tom Rainey, to ensembles and projects such as Eris 136199, Mathilde 253 and io 0.0.1 beta++. We also discuss the location of noise, rhythm, harmony and melody in my work, and the relationship between structure and improvisation. Andrew Rigmore opened by asking me about the meaning of ‘tactical macros’ in the context of Metis 9:

Descrivo Metis 9 come insieme di “tactical macros”, una sorta di libretto di strategie di gioco per l’improvvisazione pensato per un insieme di improvvisatori. Si tratta di schemi interattivi: Metis 9 non detta mai un evento preciso — un suono, un rumore — che chi suona debba eseguire — sarebbe un anatema per un’indagine seria nell’improvvisazione —, ma ha in sé i parametri per [intendere] quali tipi di interazione siano praticabili e quali invece risulterebbero… difficili. Le macro tattiche che creano Metis 9 sono spesso ambigue, perfino nebulose, a tal punto da paralizzare chi non è abituato ad improvvisare. Sono per certi versi simili alle regole dei ragazzini che giocano liberamente: esistono solo se funzionali al gioco — se sono divertenti, interessanti o portano a un gioco più intrigante — e vengono liberamente mutate, reinterpretate e mollate quando il gioco porta altrove. Dun- que non si tratta di composizioni in sè — che implicherebbero una sorta di appropriazione d’autorità, ingiusta verso gli sforzi dei performer —, per cui ho introdotto il termine “macro”: un’istruzione abbreviata che si espande in un processo reale non conoscibile tramite l’istruzione iniziale e di cui sono responsabili i performer — i veri agenti interattivi.

[I describe Metis 9 as a collection of ‘tactical macros,’ and by that I mean that Metis 9 is a kind of playbook for improvisation; it’s designed for an ensemble of improvisers, and it’s, in a way, about improvisation. These are interactive schema: Metis 9 never dictates the exact gesture—each bloop or bleep—that the performers are to execute—that, I think, would be an anathema to a serious inquiry into improvisation—but it does lay the parameters for what kinds of interactions might be possible, and what kinds of interactions might be… difficult. These tactical macros that make up Metis 9 are often ambiguous, possibly nebulous, to the point of, I suspect, being paralyzing to non-improvisers. They are somewhat akin to the rules that are enrolled when you see young children in free play. The rules only exist if they serve the play—if they are fun or interesting or lead to further engaging play—and are freely mutated, reinterpreted and jettisoned when play leads elsewhere. So they aren’t really compositions as such—that would take a kind of authorial appropriation that would be unfair on the efforts of the performers—which is why I stuck the term ‘macro’ on it: it’s a shorthand instruction that expands into a real process, but the process itself is not knowable from the initial instruction; the performers—the actual interactive agents—are responsible for that.]

[Read the rest (PDF)…]

You can read more in the current issue of jazzColo[u]rs. The issue also includes Andrew Rigmore and Antonio Terzo’s review of Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559).

Thanks to Andrew Rigmore, Antonio Terzo, Piero Rapisardi and jazzColo[u]rs for the profile and their support, and to Scott Friedlander and Fergus Kelly for the photographic portraits that accompany the article.

Out now: Anomic Aphasia

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet).

© 2015 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2015 SLAM Productions.

selected discography

Murray Campbell, Randy McKean with Han-earl Park, plus Gino Robair and Scott R. Looney: Gargantius Effect +1 +2 +3 (Nor Cal, 08-2011)

Gargantius Effect +1 +2 +3 (Nor Cal, 08-2011) [details…]

Performers: Murray Campbell (violins, oboe and cor anglais), Randy McKean (saxophone, clarinets and flutes) with Han-earl Park (guitar), plus Gino Robair (energized surfaces, voltage made audible) and Scott R. Looney (hyperpiano).

(cc) 2012 Murray Campbell/Randy McKean/Han-earl Park/Gino Robair/Scott R. Looney.

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) [details…]

Performers: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone). [About this project…]

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover (copyright 2010, Han-earl Park)

Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) [details…]

Performers: Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn) plus Lol Coxhill (saxophone). [About this ensemble…]

© 2010 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2010 SLAM Productions.

Paul Dunmall and Han-earl Park: Boolean Transforms (DLE-067) CD cover (copyright 2010, DUNS Limited Edition)

Boolean Transforms (DLE-067) [details…]

Performers: Paul Dunmall (saxophone and bagpipes) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

© 2010 DUNS Limited Edition.
℗ 2010 Paul Dunmall/Han-earl Park.

cuttlefish: Study of Notation

cuttlefish, ‘Study in Notation.’
Design (cc by-nc) 2014 Peter O’Doherty. Cover artwork © 2014 Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh. Score/artwork © 2014 Han-earl Park. Photo © 2013 Emilio Vavarella.

I’m honored to find my concept thumbnail (‘Study in Notation’) in the pages of cuttlefish (issue #1, summer 2014), a “zine for contemporary culture, music, art, aesthetics, politics,” edited by Peter O’Doherty. The piece was accompanied by an excerpt from my interview with Miguel Copón:

I’m not sure at all where this is leading, but having through some combination of ideology and necessity (ain’t it always the way?) found myself somewhat involuntarily in the ‘Total Improvisation’ camp, I’m beginning to look on the other side of the fence. Let me be clear, the, to borrow Lewis’ term, Eurological conception of the score and the practice that surrounds it (theorized in detail by Small, Cusick, Nicholas Cook and others), with its limited models of control and dogma of reproducibility, and naive notions of aesthetics, does not interest me at all.

However, I’m feeling a gravitational tug. Maybe it’s due to coming into close contact with musicians who have a much more sophisticated (if often, from an non-practitioner’s POV, misunderstood and under theorized) relationship with the score and the possibilities of notation. But it’s a distinct pull. Still working—struggling—through some ideas, and studies, and have far, far more questions than answers about the possible role notation and the score might have in an improvisative context, but that’s the new thing that’s exciting me at the moment. [Read the rest…]

The theme of cuttlefish’s inaugural issue is “work-in-progress (sketches, doodles, journal entries, streams of consciousness…),” and features contributions by Wim Bollein, Laura Duran, Evgeniy Aleksandrovich (=dozen), Graham Holliday, ja’s ink on paper, Daniel Kan, Francisco Martins, Corey Mwamba, Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh, Peter O’Doherty, Han-earl Park, Kiyomitsu Saito, Tom Tebby, Nicolas P. Tschopp, Andrea Valle, Krysthopher Woods and Alice Xiang.

If you are interested in contributing to future issues of cuttlefish, please contact cuttlefish[at]peterodoherty.net.

Prepared Guitar: 13 Questions

13 Questions (Han-earl Park. Harvestworks, NYC, October 29, 2013. Photo copyright 2013 Emilio Vavarella.)
Han-earl Park (Harvestworks, NYC, October 29, 2013). Original photo © 2013 Emilio Vavarella.

For Miguel Copón, Prepared Guitar is a “metaphor about metamorphosis” and a “place to support independent artists”. Prepared Guitar recently published my response to Copón’s 13 Questions, so you can now read, among other things, about my first guitar, my musical roots (as contradictory as they may be), and what I’m currently working on:

A CD with Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton in the works. Looking to fire up a couple of European projects after a hiatus: the duo with Richard [Barrett], and Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith.

But the thing that’s tugging at me right now is the possibilities of the score in the context of improvisative performance. Ideas, some specific, some nebulous, all as yet untested about what might be possible…

I’m not sure at all where this is leading, but having through some combination of ideology and necessity (ain’t it always the way?) found myself somewhat involuntarily in the ‘Total Improvisation’ camp, I’m beginning to look on the other side of the fence. Let me be clear, the, to borrow Lewis’ term, Eurological conception of the score and the practice that surrounds it (theorized in detail by Small, Cusick, Nicholas Cook and others), with its limited models of control and dogma of reproducibility, and naive notions of aesthetics, does not interest me at all.

However, I’m feeling a gravitational tug. Maybe it’s due to coming into close contact with musicians who have a much more sophisticated (if often, from an non-practitioners POV, misunderstood and under theorized) relationship with the score and the possibilities of notation. But it’s a distinct pull. Still working—struggling—through some ideas, and studies, and have far, far more questions than answers about the possible role notation and the score might have in an improvisative context, but that’s the new thing that’s exciting me at the moment. [Read the rest…]

You can also read my struggle with a question about the necessity of music, my take on the current digital music scene, and the politics of ‘extended technique’:

So what’s being ‘extended’ by ‘extended technique’? Is it akin to, say, a colonial explorer extending their influence and territory; ‘discovering’ a land (regardless of whether some other people were there first)?

Had an interested online exchange with Hans Tammen on the subject, and it struck me how much the term ‘extended technique’ is a way to distinguish pioneers from the rest of us. Where you draw those lines (between common practice and extended technique) says much more about your own history and prejudices than some essential quality of the technique in question.

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith once pointed out how Stockhausen claimed the invention of certain ‘extended techniques’ for the trumpet that were patently false if you had even a passing knowledge of practices outside of West European traditions. Did Stockhausen, and his supporters, claim these techniques because of a kind of ignorance, or as a deliberate erasure of other traditions? Either way, it requires a heavy dose of privilege to ignore, to justify your ignorance, or to mark peoples and cultures as irrelevant. [Read the rest…]

Looking through the list of respondents to the 13 Questions, I’m honored to find my name among those guitarists whose work I admire. I’m grateful that Miguel Copón asked me to participate.

Crucible Sound: interview with Han-earl Park

Crucible Sound (Pittsburgh, 11-07-13)
Over at Crucible Sound, Anthony Levin-Decanini interviews Han-earl Park about idiom, identity, collaborators, teaching and a-ha moments:

Idiom, tradition, identity, history (personal or collective) are things that I value. I tend not to subscribe to the vanilla notion of a pure, non-idiomatic state. I value the meeting: I want to know who you are, who I am, and that fascinating stuff is when those things collide—what we have in common, and what separates us. Border crossings are always fascinating; full of contradictions and (potential) misunderstandings….

…Meetings and border crossings make me think of brief encounters, limited investment, not long-arc relationships. Is that what free improvisers are left with: connecting only in that moment? Is that initial collision potentially more interesting to hear than when musicians get to know each other intimately (and calculate accordingly)?

…I do value the band, of long-term collaborations. It allows for greater complexity of interaction, greater speeds of decision making, more oblique, unexpected, choices. We, Eris 136199, coined a new term—‘weirderation’—after our last performance, to denote something—a set of relationships, decision making process—getting just that little bit weirder with each iteration.

On the other hand, spaces such as Crucible Sound have their own value. I’m not sure ‘brief encounters’ necessarily equates to ‘limited investment’ in those relationships.

[Read the rest…]

On Thursday (November 7, 2013), at 8:00pm (doors: 7:30pm): Han-earl Park will be performing with David Bernabo, Edgar Um Bucholtz, J Wayne Clinton and Lenny Young as part of Crucible Sound at ModernFormations (4919 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224) [map…]. Suggested donation: $7. [Details…]

tonight: The Church of Sonology / Gargantius Effect +1 on KVMR 89.5 FM

Gargantius Effect +1

Tonight (August 28, 2011) at 9:00pm: A Word in Edgewise / The Outpost presents a live broadcast by the Church of Sonology / Gargantius Effect +1 (Murray Campbell: violin, double reeds; Randy McKean: saxophone, clarinet; and Han-earl Park: guitar) on KVMR 89.5 FM (Nevada City, California). [Details…]

Coming up: Performances in Oakland and Sacramento. [Details…]

RTÉ: Nova: improvisation, ankhrasmation, Mathilde 253 and Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, transformation, ankhrasmation, teaching improvisation, Charles Hayward’s backbeats and Mathilde 253? You can listen again to the interview with me originally broadcast on March 27, 2011 on Nova on RTÉ lyric fm. [Listen again…]

Human-Machine Improvisations (Cork, 2010) on RTÉ: Morning Ireland

Human-Machine Improvisations (Cork, 2010) poster
poster (click to download PDF…)

I just did a short spot on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. Plugged the Human-Machine Improvisations (Cork, 2010) gig, and they also played a snippet of Bruce Coates with io 0.0.1 beta++ (audio recording below). I wonder how often improvised music gets on the national news 😉

beta test 05-12-09_03 [mp3″]
io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself) with Bruce Coates (saxophone). Beta test May 12, 2009.

Ten Questions from the Cork Independent

From the local free tabloid, the Cork Independent. My first (last?) fluff piece…

From the Cork Independent March 26th 2009
From the Cork Independent March 26th 2009

How many members of the (semi-fictional) trans-national tribe of latter-day improvising musicians can say they’ve done a fluff piece, huh? (Not counting the blindfold tests.) Braxton? Crispell? Parker? Ha! I don’t think so….

The newspaper piece was by Graham Lynch, with a photo by John Hough.