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.

Lost at the Border: Improvisation, Conservation and Transformation (a twitter transcript)

Previte: “I’m a bit of a mongrel.” #isim2014
…and w/ that simple statement, is not the enterprise of Cross-Cultural Improvisation nuked? #isim2014

More tweets from an institutionally unaffiliated, sometimes teacher, amateur scholar and anthropologist [a previous twitter transcript…]. Below is an unedited transcript of my observations from ISIM: Cross-Cultural Improvisation III. My original observations came in the form of live tweets via @hanearlpark that spanned the opening ceremony on June 5, the conference plus performances between June 6 and 8, plus some post-event reflections.

My questions and observations are indebted to discussions with @AndreaWolper, @jkais, @nickreynoldsatw, @MarkImprov, @drmelmarshall and @coreymwamba both on- and off- the twitterverse.

My rants, however, are entirely my own 😉

Twitter transcript (unedited)

Opening Ceremony: New York, June 5, 2014

Heading to the #isim2014 opening ceremony. (‘Ceremony’ sounds so ostentatious. Conference folk, seriously…)

After my comments about #diversity and #rsa2014 & #amspittsburgh, was ready to be disappointed by #isim2014. Better, maybe, but not perfect.

Fewer suits and lighter makeup at #isim2014 compared to #rsa2014 & #amspittsburgh. #amateuranthropology

Is the ‘global village’ still a possibility? What violence hides behind such an idea? #isim2014

Can we imagine a global village achieved w/out violence? w/out the erasure of difference? #isim2014

There’s an interesting evocation of a kind of futurism in a lot of improvisative traditions. #isim2014

Conference: New York, June 6, 2014

3pm: #noise #melody #rhythm #contrast #serendipity #contradiction from Eris 136199 w/ @DoctorNerve @CatherineSikora @ @ISIMprov. #isim2014

Cognition vs embodiment. #isim2014

Is cognition a form of computation? Is embodiment a form of (physical) computation? #isim2014

Is a successful improvisation (always) narrative? #isim2014

This reminds me of Paul Berg’s algorithmic composition class… #isim2014

…either you create a process that creates desirable results, or one that creates noise that is selectively filter. #isim2014

Doesn’t (biological) evolution depend on the environment? Doesn’t musicality depend on the (cultural) environment? #isim2014

GenJam: the worst thing to happen to machine improvisation? #discuss #isim2014

Unasked question: how an improviser tries to make the rest of the band sound good. #isim2014

Unasked question: how individual desires (goals) collide to provide long-term formal structures (retroactively). #isim2014

…in this context, concentrating on individual intention may be missing the bigger picture. #isim2014

Problem w/ the Turing Test in creative contexts is that ‘I know it when I see/hear it’ ends up as a mirror of ‘does it swing’ #isim2014

Can we discuss rhythm w/out engaging w/ embodiment? #isim2014

History = cultural context = environment in which evolution takes place? #isim2014

At what point does cooperation & competition diverge in improvisative performance? #isim2014

…or is that a false dichotomy? are those terms meaningless in the context of improvisative play? #isim2014

Why are so many musicians so assured when idiomatic pressures are unambiguous, but uncertain when not? #isim2014

…is freedom that scary? #isim2014

…we know how to be a cog in the machine when the machine tells us to be? #isim2014

…we know our role/place/function in the ensemble if it’s prescribed for us? #isim2014

Is trans-idiomatic musicality a reflection of a kind of white middle-class mobility? #isim2014

…After trans-idiomatic meetings are (white) self-identified non-idiomatic musicians able to see idiom in their own playing? #isim2014

…are trans-idiomatic meetings by definition colonial? #isim2014

“No way to control what’s coming through your ears.” #isim2014

Ah, the sound of my circulation system. #isim2014

Can improvisation be about your ‘actual experience’ divorced from ‘thinking’? #isim2014

…in contrast, earlier presentation modeled improvisation exclusively as a ‘cognitive’ process. #isim2014

…why these simplifying assumptions in the context of something as complicated and human as improvisative play? isim

What’s possible given circumstances/resources = improvisation? #isim2014

…but what is the relation btwn this and the black american composer-improviser tradition? #isim2014

…Braxton said if you don’t compose this piece (for 276 accordions, say), then you will never hear it. #isim2014

After Lacy: “what’s alive for you?” #isim2014

…which is fine as far as it goes, but can we further unpack ‘aliveness’? #isim2014

‘Trust,’ ‘courage,’ ‘openness,’ all terms we use to talk about improvisation. We should unpack these. #isim2014

Reminded of Braxton’s commend about how freedom is knowing your context well enough so that……… you. are. free. #isim2014

Oh, reminded how my skills as an improviser are so, so, so pathetic. #isim2014

I want more talk of noise and frenzy. #isim2014

I desire a discussion of collisions, contradictions, the unintelligible, the unspeakable. #isim2014

Where is improvisation, the destabilizing, the revolutionary, the dissonant, the dissenting? #isim2014

Part of me (uncharitably for sure) want to scream ‘f*ck calm.’ #isim2014

Goddamnnit. I am Asian, and I will not be your model of calm and reserved. #isim2014

Wadada: “try to find something unique in yourself.” #isim2014

…don’t try to fit in. #isim2014

…“I don’t want them to expect nothing!” #isim2014

Is ‘experience’ (unlike, say, subjectivity) (always) a term of resistance? #isim2014

‘Compliment’ or ‘contradict’; what do these terms _mean_ in the context of improvisative play? #isim2014

…we seem to be struggling because we (think we) know the ‘correct’ terms to use. #isim2014

What does the term ‘pattern’ mean in the context of improvisative play? #isim2014

…can ‘pattern’ every be an enabling discursive element in the context of creative music? #isim2014

Often wonder if I should (get back to) playing more (overtly) melodic. #isim2014

Reminded of experiments about the different perceptions of musical construction depending on idiomatic background. #isim2014

…are not cultural misunderstandings so much more interesting than (ostensibly) clear channels of communication? #isim2014

‘notes’; if we just jettisoned that term, our understanding of musical practices would be so much richer. #isim2014

Some additional insight if you understand both English and 한국말. #isim2014

Are terms such as ‘discipline’ and ‘pattern’ (discursively) limiting in the contacts of improvisative play? #isim2014

Reminded of Wadada once saying that when he puts his horn to his mouth, it’s a command. #isim2014

Previte: “I’m a bit of a mongrel.” #isim2014

…and w/ that simple statement, is not the enterprise of Cross-Cultural Improvisation nuked? #isim2014

The unresolved contradiction btwn agency and sublimation? #isim2014

#isim2014 http://t.co/bypjiQMRiS

how much of my views/practices are shaped by my teachers; how much convergence of approach because of who I chose as teachers? #isim2014

“Social aspects of musicality.” #isim2014

…an enormous amount of stuff blackboxed in that statement. #isim2014

‘Leading’ and ‘following’; do these terms have any utility in the context of improvisative play? #isim2014

“Where was I going?” (unintentionally?) good description of what we are doing. #isim2014

…Something I learned when I started teaching improvisation was the utility I jettisoning these terms. #isim2014

Conference: New York, June 7, 2014

However you cut it, solo is that impossible thing in improvisation. #isim2014

…you have _got_ to have something pretty damn important to say/present. #isim2014

…in that sense, by analogy, Romey’s speeches during the last election would be an example or a useless solo. #isim2014

…I’ve consciously engaged w/ the solo context self-consciously on and off for the last ten years, but I still haven’t cracked it. #isim2014

Echoes of Philip Glass? or of Chris Cutler? #isim2014

Random thought: what does the term ‘oppositional politics’ mean, if anything, in improvisative practices? #isim2014

…what does the term ‘ideology’ mean, if anything, in improvisative practices? #isim2014

…’cause, despite talk of the social, what I have heard little of (so far) at #isim2014 is the (explicitly) political.

…which may be a reflection more of my own predilections, but I worry about the gentrification of improvisation. #isim2014

…what happens to improvisation as an oppositional force when, say, academic classical performers ‘dabble’ in it… #isim2014 [1/2]

…w/out necessarily interrogating their own tradition/practice/history and the structures of power? #isim2014 [2/2]

A new kind of cross-cultural musicology that “can only be fathomed by the improviser.” #isim2014

…but to paraphrase Previte, are we not (always already) mongrels? #isim2014

“India, Korea, then Wadada, then Bobby.” hmm #isim2014

Is ‘merging’ a useful notion in the context of improvisative performance? #isim2014

…Is ‘merging’ a useful notion in the context of improvisative (cross-cultural) meetings? #isim2014

“Not trying to drop a bomb.” But are bombs unambiguous across cultural borders? #isim2014

…one might intend Operation Enduring Freedom, others might interpret Invasion and Empire Building. #isim2014

Dissent! Yay. #isim2014

“Tradition is not a dead thing.” #isim2014

…yes, but traditions sometimes die/petrify/fossilize. #isim2014

…under what conditions do traditions die/petrify/fossilize? #isim2014

“What an [musical, performative] action signifies.” #isim2014

‘Notes’—that word again. #isim2014

“There is that elasticity in _everything_.” #isim2014

Can we unpack the term ‘energy’ in the context of these discussions of improvisation? #isim2014

“To feel secure in that uncertainty is the biggest challenge of any musician, or human being for that matter.” #isim2014

“Leave it up to analyst to explain what happened [in spontaneous creation].” #isim2014

…part agree, but then why are we here? #isim2014

…there is this constant tension btwn intellectual and anti-intellectualism in the traditions of improvisative performance. #isim2014

“A future event can affect the present.” #isim2014

…reminds me of Ted Chiang’s story of the performative language changes consciousness and sense of causality. #isim2014

…which might relate to the quip about leaving analysis to the analyst. #isim2014

I have little patience for the regurgitation of amateur physics. #isim2014

Going out for air. #isim2014

improvised music “goes beyond style.” But does it? #isim2014

Is #isim2014 attempting to turn #improvisedmusic into the emblem of salvation for academic (study of) music? #isim2014

…where does tokenism end, and revolutionary equality begin? #isim2014

…Is it unfair to compare this to (post-)colonial ideas of savages as agents of renewal? #isim2014

To borrow from @vijayiyer: “The Jazz Educational Complex.” #isim2014

“Transdisciplinary space”—well, okay, but how to reconcile this (utopian) notion w/ the “cross-cultural”? #isim2014

“Institutions need to rebuild from the foundation.” #isim2014

…yes, but https://t.co/EOidN6pSmp

…yes, but https://t.co/yZHlEQRSVK

…or https://t.co/txouBTMx45

…yes, but https://t.co/gzEsSwYCvl

We want to _study_ improvisation, but we precisely do not want interactive destabilizing forces in the structures of academia. #isim2014

…Is it possible to rebuild academic (study of) music while keeping the formal structures intact? #isim2014

…so where does tokenism end? #isim2014

More talk of meditation. #isim2014 tropes.

Frustrated. Going out for air. #isim2014

“Nobody [at #isim2014] understands that we can’t talk about this w/out being critical!”

My thoughts on #isim2014 http://t.co/OWKnq76VFN

An academic would never present work w/out citing their sources. #isim2014 [1/6]

Should not the academic who studies improvisative practices/traditions also cite specific artists…? #isim2014 [2/6]

…rather than hide behind nebulous/generic language? #isim2014 [3/6]

If there’s a specific musical/artistic/creative element you’re talking about, surely you must be able to name a source. #isim2014 [4/6]

Why the double standards? Are scholars more important? #isim2014 [5/6]

…are their ‘possessions’ more valuable than the practitioners of your (supposed) area of expertise? #isim2014 [6/6]

Concert: New York, June 7, 2014

Problem w/ oval halls is that, if you’re at the focal point opposite the stage, those on stage will hear everything you say. #isim2014

#ugh ##isim2014

If tomorrow’s gig is my last, then it’ll be the most important one I play. w/ Tom Rainey @ @whynotjazzroom NYC. http://t.co/Pwb2ZXJkZh

If ‘tradition’/‘patterns’ remain an unchanged backbone to improvisative meetings, what is achieved by those meetings? #isim2014

…seriously. Why bother? #isim2014

…or put it another way: re continued enterprise of ‘cross-cultural improvisations,’ an obvious question: now what? what next? #isim2014

…I am beginning to suspect that ‘cross-cultural improvisation’ is a cute arts marketing term that, however… #isim2014

…signifies little; no goal or purpose in mind. We can happily go our own merry ways at the end of the day… #isim2014

…safe from the transformative/revolutionary possibilities of improvisation. #isim2014

You know ‘notes’ and ‘patterns’ are the least interesting things about improvisation… #isim2014

…and though folk at #isim2014 have mentioned in passing that there’s this other stuff at play in improvisation…

…people have been reluctant to open up those black boxes. #isim2014

Safe in the knowledge that the scary, truly transformative aspect of improvisation can be left unexplored. #isim2014

Is it okay to feel betrayed by these (I have no reason to doubt) Masters of Tradition? #isim2014

Is it okay to feel angry about the prescriptions made by these Masters of Tradition? #isim2014

I’ll be honest. I walked out of the last thing. But I’m drawn back by Wadada. #isim2014

The AACM used two terms to denote their music and practice: ‘creative music’ and ‘free music.’ #isim2014

…and _this_ thing I’m hearing right now, I can get behind. #isim2014

…singular, powerful, noisy. That African American noise that showed the world How It Could Be Done. #isim2014

…a Music of Unbound Possibilities. #isim2014

Wadada’s left the stage. I’m leaving this time for real. See y’all tomorrow. #isim2014

.@nickreynoldsatw or academia only studies/legitimizes improvisative practices/traditions that emphasize the narrative… #isim2014

.@nickreynoldsatw …or academia chooses to impose narrativity onto improvisative practices/traditions. #isim2014

Conference: New York, June 8, 2014

How does one know when you cross an idiomatic or traditional border? #isim2014

…Rather than thinking of idiomatic vs free improvisation… #isim2014 [1/2]

…can we not just think of those borders as having shifted (or simply immaterial). There may be no inside/outside. #isim2014 [2/2]

Do you distinguish/delineate those elements inherited from the tradition, the practice, and your own inventions? #isim2014

Make an Early Music Noise Here. #isim2014

Make a New Music Noise Here. #isim2014

How is it that so many introduce improvisation into their practice, and the idiom becomes _more_ a caricature of itself? #isim2014

…why is it that improvisation leads us back into the familiar (rather than, as Lacy said, leap into the Unknown)? #isim2014

…how is that even possible? (Not a rhetorical question) #isim2014

…it’s like being free to do anything, and we end up telling that same anecdote over and over again. #isim2014

…it’s like giving what you _presume_ to be the right answer (even though there is no right answer). #isim2014

…it’s like being afraid to give the wrong answer (when the question was entirely open). #isim2014

…do we not know how to be free? or are we afraid? #isim2014

…reminded of Mark Sanders saying that you should not listen to your inner critic; the one who knows the ‘right answer.’ #isim2014

Borders can be demolished. Let’s All Cross Borders. Right. Now. #isim2014

Godammit. #isim2014

Talking to D Ewart about how cultural/material exchanges have been happening since the beginning of time. #isim2014

…along w/ Previte’s comment, does this not nuke the whole premise of ‘cross-cultural improvisations’? #isim2014

I am going to start ISIT: the International Society for Indignant Tweeters. Who’s with me?

Some great comments from the floor: concrete suggestions to increase diversity and accessibility. #isim2014

“Breaking down the [academic] structure of [how presentations are made].” #isim2014

“How was it funded?” #isim2014

I am reminded again how much I am the wrong Asian to participate in a ‘cross-cultural improvisation.’ #isim2014

…and again: https://t.co/26M9aOMV0p #isim2014

Can’t directly compare #isim2014 with #rsa2014 or #amspittsburgh, but I will say that…

#isim2014 does speak seriously/passionately about the need/desire for greater diversity/access.

…even if we don’t always have concrete plans. #isim2014

Yesterday… Yesterday I… Yesterday I walked… Yesterday I walked past… Yesterday I walked past Philip…

But today I swapped CDs with Douglas Ewart. How frickin’ cool is that?!? #isim2014

Post-conference reflections…

Final thoughts on #isim2014: the main thing I learned (and in retrospect why I was angry), was about my own prejudices… [1/9]

…I had made a lazy, unexamined assumption about improvisation (its practice and its implications)… #isim2014 [2/9]

…I had assumed (w/out evidence) that improvisation was intrinsically tranformative/revolutionary/disruptive/noisy/etc, and… #isim2014 [3/9]

…that any tradition that incorporated it, must themselves be revolutionary/disruptive//noisy/etc… #isim2014 [4/9]

…That, in retrospect, was a naive, unfounded postulation that in turn lead to an erroneous conclusion… #isim2014 [5/9]

…I learned that improvisative traditions may not have the tranformative/revolutionary/disruptive/etc as thier focal point… #isim2014 [6/9]

…that improvisative traditions/practices might conceivably be conservative/reactionary/etc… #isim2014 [7/9]

…I learned that what I (unquestioningly) took as a universal improvisative impulse… #isim2014 [8/9]

…was a particular expression of a specifically (post-)Civil Rights African-American (derrived) one. #isim2014 [9/9]

Anyway, in case you missed it, this is still my best summary of my reponse to #isim2014: https://t.co/tjv7SOP8k6

0. One more thought on #isim2014’s ‘Cross-Cultural Improvisations’: What, in retrospect, appears to have been at stake is not just the…

1. …nature of improvisation as a means of conservation vs a means of self-determined transformation, but… #isim2014

2. …specific expressions of these notions within a specific discursive framework. #isim2014

3. So we had representatives from practices that are, to varying degrees and in varied ways, post-colonial, nationalist… #isim2014

4. …in which the priorities might be described as a kind of classicism; we had a representative from a… #isim2014

5. …Civil-Rights fueled, Afro-Futurist community; a representative from a vernacular-immersed post-modern avant-garde. #isim2014

6. The idea that we would have dissonance at such a meeting shoudn’t perhaps be surprising, but for a… #isim2014

7. …‘benevolent’ liberal-humanism that acted as the formal umbrella… #isim2014

8. …that, surely, was the single biggest reason for the lack of productive dialogue. #isim2014

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.

farewell, Brooklyn, it’s been a blast

Let’s start with a kind of personal Top Ten. In no particular order: Han-earl Park with Ingrid Laubrock; with Tim Perkis and Harris Eisenstadt; as part of Eris 136199 with Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora; with Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen and Michael Evans; Gerald Cleaver; Tom Blancarte; Dominic Lash; Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton; and with Evan Parker, Brooklyn and New York, 2012–2013. Videos by Scott Friedlander, Don Mount and Kevin Reilly.

I moved to Brooklyn back in December 2011, and I’m grateful and privileged to have been part of, even briefly, such a gracious, vibrant, creative, fun and welcoming community.

I’m particularly indebted to Andrew, Jesse, Michael, Adam, Anna and Andrea for introducing me to the (cultural) geography/neighborhood(s); to Bruce, Wadada and Ras who gave me my first few gigs; and to Tim and Evan for offering me sideman gigs. And a very big thanks to Josh, Catherine and Nick for much of the above, and for collaborating on some long-term projects. To everyone, I hope to repay the your generosity (and hope to catch up when I’m back in Brooklyn/NYC).

Now back in Cork, and, for what feel like the first time in a long time, I’m arriving without a gig in town (and, to my surprise, I’m not too unhappy about that). Some plans ahead (solo performance at SARC for starters), fingers crossed, something will work out.

Anyway, as posted earlier, I’m seeking performances for Numbers (Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park), Eris 136199 (Nick Didkovsky, Han-earl Park and Catherine Sikora) and Mathilde 253 (Charles Hayward, Han-earl Park and Ian Smith). Interested promoters, venues, festivals and sponsors, please get in touch! [Details…]

audio recordings: downloads and recommendations (series 1)

download album artwork: Han-earl Park plus Marian Murray (Cork, 07-29-10); Jin Sangtae, Han-earl Park and Jeffrey Weeter (Cork, 01–24–11); Han-earl Park and Franziska Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09); and Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park (Cork, 04-04-11)
With the release of the recording with Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders, I’ve completed the current series of download albums, and I’ve been taking a break from releasing new recordings. The albums so far—all Creative Commons licensed, and free or ‘name your price’—are collated here and on the downloads page. With a break in the release schedule, I’ve taken the opportunity to overhaul the downloads page; the most significant update since I started, in September 2010, formally offering complete concert recordings online.

One notable update to the downloads page is the addition of the recommended Bandcamp albums that accompanied the current series. As I wrote previously, there are some very fine and inspiring creative, improvised and experimental music on Bandcamp, but it isn’t always easy to find the recordings. Here’s my small contribution to help people get started. Enjoy, download, share—support creative musicians!

Keywords: improvised music, creative music, jazz, free jazz, free improvisation, experimental music, electronic music, electroacoustic.

Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sanders

Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sanders: Dunmall-Park-Sanders (Birmingham, 02-15-11)

Two non-stop sets of improvised music. This live recording juxtaposes the formidable creativity and muscular technique of veteran improviser-saxophonist Paul Dunmall, the imaginative cyborgian virtuosity of guitarist Han-earl Park, and the ever inventive playing of Mark Sanders, arguably the most sought-after improviser-drummer of his generation. [More info…]

Recommended price: $8+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

Murray Campbell, Randy McKean, Han-earl Park, Gino Robair and Scott R. Looney

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

The Gargantius Effect is the brainchild of Murray Campbell and Randy McKean. This album documents Gargantius Effect’s August 2011 tour of Northern California with special guest and fellow Sonologist Han-earl Park, plus Bay Area veteran improviser, composer and electronic artist Gino Robair, and hyperpianist Scott R. Looney. [More info…]

Recommended price: $8+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

Han-earl Park plus Marian Murray

Han-earl Park plus Marian Murray: Park+Murray (Cork, 07-29-10)

A solo performance by guitarist-constructor Han-earl Park exploring, with feedback and resonant buzzes, the complex, cavernous acoustics of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, and the interactions between artifact (guitar) and the body (guitarist). For ‘Strokes and Screwballs,’ Park is joined by violinist-improviser Marian Murray for a conversational improvisation. [More info…]

Recommended price: $5+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

Jin Sangtae, Han-earl Park and Jeffrey Weeter

Jin Sangtae, Han-earl Park and Jeffrey Weeter: Jin-Park-Weeter (Cork, 01–24–11)

A stark, real-time evolution of on-stage relations. The performance took place during Seoul-based experimental electronic musician Jin Sangtae’s European tour. Featuring clanking hard drives, buzzing electronics, noisy guitars and machine gun percussion, this recording captures Jin’s meeting with guitarist-improviser Han-earl Park, and composer, drummer and intermedia artist Jeffrey Weeter. [More info plus the 24-bit edition…]

Recommended price: $8+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

Han-earl Park and Franziska Schroeder

Han-earl Park and Franziska Schroeder: Park-Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09)

“Sounds reverberate and carry in unexpected ways, and music improvised here [The Glucksman Gallery] runs the risk of losing all definition. That [Han-earl] Park and his co-improviser Franziska Schroeder gracefully avoided this testifies to their alertness, sensitivity and experience working together in other spaces…. Indeed the evening had the feeling of conversation, with the instrumentalists demonstrating the improvisatory give-and-take of a convivial exchange of ideas.” [More info…]

Recommended price: $5+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park

Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park: Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11)

A performance by Catherine Sikora, a saxophonist with a striking, compelling sound. She has been described as “a free-blowing player’s player with a spectacular harmonic imagination and an evolved understanding of the tonal palette of the saxophone”. Sikora was joined by cofounder of the London Improvisers’ Orchestra, trumpeter Ian Smith, and guitarist Han-earl Park. Smith and Park had just come off the tour as part of the power-trio Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward) with Wadada Leo Smith. [More info…]

Recommended price: $8+

Accompanying Recommended Albums

site update: Metis 9

The (provisional) project page for Metis 9 is now live:

Metis 9 is a collection of improvisative tactics, and higher-level interactive macros for ensemble performance designed, designated and specified by Han-earl Park.

Metis 9 has ‘glorious noise’ or ‘frenzy’ at its root, yet it is not so much structuring the noise as it is a meta-layer of complexity that performers can introduce at will. Metis 9 does not tell the performer what to play, or provide all the details of how to interact, but it is an additional network protocol for interactive possibilities. Group improvisation is always the primary protocol; Metis 9 provides secondary or tertiary tactics that create an additional focused complexity. The decision for each bloop and bleep is still retained by the ensemble. These macros enable specific interactionist schemes to be expressed in an open improvisative context; it is improvisative play channeled by group consent.

Metis 9 builds on my experience teaching improvisation at University College Cork, and performing as part of large ensembles led by Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros. Metis 9 includes tactics developed from performances and practices of Cecil Taylor, Tony Oxley, John Zorn and Anthony Braxton, in particular, and the form of its practice (training and instruction) is inspired by the ensemble improvisation-composition works of George E. Lewis among others.

[Metis 9 page…]

I am seeking opportunities to perform Metis 9 in small and large ensemble contexts with, at its core, the trio of Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton. In particular, I am seeking performance opportunities for Gargantius Effect +4 (Murray Campbell and Randy McKean with Gino Robair, Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton) in October 2013 in North America (contact me for other locations and dates). Interested promoters, venues and sponsors, please get in touch!

Downtown Music Gallery: Numbers: Richard Barrett + Han-earl Park

CD cover of ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) with Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park (copyright 2012, Creative Sources Recordings)
‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) © 2012 Creative Sources

The “intense exchange between these two gifted improvisers.” Bruce Lee Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery reviews Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park’s ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd):

Featuring Richard Barrett on electronics and Han-earl Park on guitar. Richard Barrett is a UK composer as well as an improvising electronic musician who plays in Furt, Forch and with Evan Parker, all of whom record for the Psi label. Originally UK-based guitarist Han-earl Park has been living in NY for the past couple of years and working with many Downtown players like Louise Jensen & Michael Evans (who he played with here at DMG last Sunday – 1/20/13), Harris Eisenstadt, Tim Perkis and Anthony Braxton. When Mr. Park was living in the UK, he worked with Paul Dunmall, Charles Hayward and invented a device called io 0.0.1 Beta, that played its own improvisations. An impressive resume for sure. Han-earl left us with this duo effort and I’m glad he did.

I dig the intense exchange between these two gifted improvisers. There are a number of bent sounds which make it hard to determine who is doing what. What electric guitar sounds I recognize are sharp, focused and quickly formed & let loose. Han-earl does not sound like a jazz guitarist and doesn’t play any of those popular licks. More often he is playing a series of broken yet tight phrases which fit perfectly with Mr. Barrett’s more rounded electronics. The fractured phrases that erupt throughout this disc often sound like just one musician playing by himself since we never know where one sound begins or ends or what it will turn into. There are a few rubbed string sounds which remind me of Fred Frith at times but that is the reference I can pull out of my own listening encounters. Otherwise this is duo is completely unique, exciting and engaging.

[Original newsletter…] [DMG catalog page…]

You can get the CD from DMG for a limited time price of $14 (normally $16)!

btw, I have yet to perform with Mr. Braxton (I assume Bruce meant Wadada), and I’m from California, but otherwise the description, especially “fractured phrases that erupt throughout this disc often sound like just one musician playing by himself since we never know where one sound begins or ends or what it will turn into”, is pretty accurate! Thanks for listening, Bruce.

‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) is available from Creative Sources Recordings. [More info…] [All reviews…] [Get the CD…]

more reviews: Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park (Cork, 04–04–11)

artwork for Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park: Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11)
“Courageous, exciting and iconoclastic.” Of Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park’s download album, Andrew Rigmore writes in the December 2012 issue of jazzColo[u]rs:

Questo album è solo un assaggio della musica coraggiosa, entusiasmante ed iconoclastica che si può trovare gratuitamente — sotto licenza Creative Commons— sul sito dell’etichetta Bandcamp ed altri ad essa collegati. “Cork, 04-04-11” è la registrazione — di ottima qualità — del concerto tenuto dalla sassofonista Catherine Sikora, dal trombettista Ian Smith e dal chitarrista Han-earl Park a Cork, Irlanda, nell’aprile del 2011. E da troppo tempo la relativa pagina giace fra i preferiti del browserdi redazione, per cui è giunto il momento di darne conto. Si tratta di creatività made in Ireland, per quanto Park e Sikora oggi si siano stabiliti a New York. La sassofonista di Cork possiede un timbro corposo al tenore ed una limpidezza che la pongono sulla scia di maestri come Jerry Bergonzi o Charles Lloyd (il lungo assolo in Red Line Speed), ma anche fra gli avanguardisti più temerari della scena europea. Particolarmente originale la chitarra di Park, le cui baritonali e caustiche idiosincrasie sembrano fornire lungo tutto il setspunti in prevalenza ritmici agli intrecci fra tenore e tromba. Molto noto in patria, Smith vanta collaborazioni con Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Steve Beresford ed è co-leader di rinomati gruppi del free londinese come Forest e Trian: il suo secondo Cd da titolare, “Daybreak” (Emanem, 2000), coinvolge fra gli altri Derek Bailey e Oren Marshall. La sua fantasiosa tromba apre irriverente in 바르트, e si accompagna a chitarra e sax in Red Line Speed, ripartendo, a metà brano, da un pianissimo soffiato che diventa più lungo e sinuoso, fino a tornare a tessere trame aeree e sorprendenti insieme al sax, la cui chiusura solitaria è quasi toccante. Tromba silenziata per Massimo’s Imagined Juxtapositions, con certe inflessioni milesiane tipiche di Wadada Leo Smith ma in qualche piega anche debitrici delle sfumature di Cherry e Dixon. Quanto al progetto dietro all’etichetta, è di per sé innovativo, permettendo agli utenti in molti casi di scaricare gli album battendo essi stessi un prezzo e, come in un’asta, il Cd acquisisce un suo valore di mercato e quindi un costo. Ovvio che chi prima arriva…

— Andrew Rigmore (jazzColo[u]rs)

Meanwhile, Stanley Jason Zappa contributes Free Jazz Blog’s third review of this album [other reviews from Free Jazz…]:

…There is no doubt that Sikora is the most luminous of the three, so much so that this recording is, now and forever “one of Catherine Sikora’s early recordings.” This is less the recording’s fault and more the fault of Ms. Sikora’s continued emergence as a leading, steering voice on the tenor saxophone. [Read the rest…]

Stanley Jason Zappa (Free Jazz)

[More about this recording…] [All reviews…]

Also available for download…

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.

Han-earl Park plus Marian Murray: Park+Murray (Cork, 07-29-10)

Park+Murray (Cork, 07-29-10) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar) plus Marian Murray (violin).

(cc) 2012 Han-earl Park/Marian Murray.

Jin Sangtae, Han-earl Park and Jeffrey Weeter: Jin-Park-Weeter (Cork, 01–24–11)

Jin-Park-Weeter (Cork, 01-24-11) [details…]

Performers: Jin Sangtae (electronics), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Jeffrey Weeter (drums and electronics).

(cc) 2012 Jin Sangtae/Han-earl Park/Jeffrey Weeter.

Han-earl Park and Franziska Schroeder: Park-Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09)

Park-Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar) and Franziska Schroeder (saxophone).

(cc) 2012 Han-earl Park/Franziska Schroeder.

Coming soon…

Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sanders: Dunmall-Park-Sanders (Birmingham, 02-15-11)

Dunmall-Park-Sanders (Birmingham, 02-15-11) [details…]

Performers: Paul Dunmall (saxophones and bagpipes), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Mark Sanders (drums).

(cc) 2012 Paul Dunmall/Han-earl Park/Mark Sanders.

thanks: Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra at the Roulette, Brooklyn

Happy 70th Birthday, Wadada

I feel honored to have been part of an orchestra of performers of that caliber. As best I can make out, the final lineup of the Silver Orchestra on the night was:

Silver Orchestra lineup 12-16-11

Thomas Buckner (voice), Jennifer Choi, Wendy Law (strings), Casey Anderson, Casey Butler, Jamie Baum, Marty Ehrlich, Sara Schoenbeck, J. D. Parran, Jason Mears (winds), Ted Daniel, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mark Taylor (brass), Yuko Fujiyama (piano), John Lindberg (bass), Han-earl Park (guitar), and Bobby Naughton, Susie Ibarra, Martin Obeng, Harris Eisenstadt (percussion).

Was great to catch up with some old acquaintances, and meet many new people. Some things to take away: the trio of drummers to my right (Susie, Martin and Harris) always sounded fantastic; Mark’s fluttering, playful solo was a highlight; Angelica Sanchez for her sense of humor; musing with Jason about the possibilities (and practicalities) of large ensemble creative music; and Yuko and Taylor making the sections breaks clearer for the rest of us.

And of course, thanks to Wadada for taking time to guide us through his compositions; always a pleasure. Happy Birthday, Wadada!

tonight: Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra at the Roulette, Brooklyn

Silver Orchestra

Tonight (December 16, 2011), at 8:00pm: My first gig in NY! I will be performing as part of Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra, plus the Golden Quintet (Golden Quartet +1) and Organic. The event takes place at the Roulette (509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217). Tickets: $15 ($10) [get tickets…]. [Details…]

performance diary 12-06-11 (Brooklyn, New York)

upcoming performances
date venue time details
December 16, 2011 Roulette
509 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217
8:00pm Performance as part of Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra.
Tickets: $15 ($10).
[Details…]
[Roulette page…]
January 8, 2012 Downtown Music Gallery
13 Monroe Street
New York, NY 10002-7351
6:00pm 6:00pm: G. L. Diana (electronics) and Kyoko Kitamura (voice).
7:00pm: Tracy McMullen (saxophone) and Han-earl Park (guitar).
Free admission.
[DMG page…]
December 2011 New York As of December 2011, Han-earl Park is based in New York, and is seeking formal or ad-hoc playing opportunities. Interested musicians, promoters, venues, please get in touch!
April–May 2012 Europe Mathilde 253 (Charles Hayward: drums, percussion and melodica; Han-earl Park: guitar; and Ian Smith: trumpet and flugelhorn), plus Numbers (Richard Barrett: electronics; and Han-earl Park: guitar) are seeking performance opportunities in Europe, April to May 2012.
In addition, Han-earl Park (guitar) is available for formal or ad-hoc performances.
Interested promoters, venues and sponsors, please get in touch!

Continue reading “performance diary 12-06-11 (Brooklyn, New York)”

performance: Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra at the Roulette, Brooklyn

Silver Orchestra

Friday, December 16, 2011, at 8:00pm: I will be performing as part of Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra. From Avant Music News and Interpretations:

December 16th features Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet [with Angelica Sanchez, John Lindberg, and Pheeroan akLaff] (adding Susie Ibarra on drums), his electric band Organic, and the Silver Orchestra, featuring Jennifer Choi, Jessica Pavone, Wendy Law (strings), Jamie Baum, Marty Ehrlich, Sara Schoenbeck, Mark Taylor, J.D. Parran, Jason Mears (winds), Ted Daniel, Taylor Ho Bynum (brass) Yuko Fujiyama (piano), John Lindberg (bass), Liberty Ellman, Han-Earl Park (guitar), and Bobby Naughton, Susie Ibarra, Martin Obeng, Harris Eisenstadt, (percussion), performing Central Park (featuring Thomas Buckner, voice) and the premiere of his latest work, Occupy the World: For Freedom. [Read the rest…]

As part of the two-day celebration to mark Smith’s 70th birthday, the event takes place at the Roulette (509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217). Tickets: $15 ($10) [get tickets…].

See the performance diary for up-to-date info. [Roulette page…] [Interpretations page…]

updates

11–22–11: add details from Avant Music News and Interpretations.