Over the last several months I’ve been busy behind-the-scenes working on a solo guitar project. In a few months I hope to announce some exciting developments. In the meantime, you can catch up with some short videos of solo guitar improvisations by following #lockdownminiature both on Twitter and on Facebook.

Arts Council of Ireland

This project is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

New improvisative pieces for solo guitar


Awesome news! I am excited to announce that I am a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Music Bursary Award, and that I will be creating a suite of improvisative, obliquely narrative, pieces for solo guitar, working with mentors Richard Barrett and Annette Krebs, and consultant Han-Ter Park to build a new compositional approach, and create companion pieces to my teaching work. As wrote in my proposal:

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.

Arts Council of Ireland

This project is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

Improvising guitar, writing about

Studies for Guitar
© 2013 and 2020 Han-earl Park

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.

Cork City Council Arts Office

This project was made possible with funding by the Cork City Council Arts Office.

Documentation: io 0.0.1 beta++, the musical automaton and machine improviser

Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (Ó Riada Hall, Cork, May 25, 2010)
Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (Ó Riada Hall, Cork, May 25, 2010). Photo © 2010 Han-earl Park.

I’ve collated material on io 0.0.1 beta++ (including audio and visual material, source code, and written pieces), and created a selective index of documentation on the construction of, and performance of and with, this machine musician:

io 0.0.1 beta++ is an interactive, semiautonomous technological artifact that, in partnership with its human associates, performs a deliberately amplified staging of a socio-technical network—a network in which the primary protocol is improvisation. Together the cyborg ensemble explores the performance of identities, hybrids and relationships, and highlights the social agency of artifacts, and the social dimension of improvisation. Engineered by Han-earl Park, io 0.0.1 beta++ is a descendant, and significant re-construction, of his previous machine musicians, and it builds upon the work done with, and address some of the musical and practical problems of, these previous artifacts.

Standing as tall as a person, io 0.0.1 beta++ whimsically evokes a 1950s B-movie robot, constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware and missile switches. It celebrates the material and corporeal; embracing the localized and embodied aspects of sociality, performance and improvisation.

[Read the rest…]

arts council logo

The construction of io 0.0.1 beta++ has been made possible by the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland.

By Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder

‘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.

Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park at the Institute of Sonology, The Hague

© 2002, 2018 Han-earl Park

Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at 7:30pm: Richard Barrett (electronics) and Han-earl Park (guitar) (a.k.a. Numbers) perform as part of the Sonology Discussion Concert. Event takes place at the Arnold Schoenbergzaal, Instituut voor Sonologie/Koninklijk Conservatorium (Juliana van Stolberglaan 1, 2595 CA The Hague, The Netherlands). Free entrance.

See the performance diary for up-to-date info. [Facebook event…]

Plus, on the previous day (Tuesday, December 11), at 3:30pm, Han-earl Park will also be giving a presentation at the Colloquium at the Varèsezaal, Instituut voor Sonologie. He may be talking about:

Improvising automata, and improvising cyborgs; performing stories of salvation through technology, and amplifying the voices of everyday artifacts. Cautionary tales, and small triumphs, from the practice of an institutionally unaffiliated artist-engineer, as he attempts to evolve techniques and approaches while riding the lines between ambiguity, didacticism, the improvisative, virtuosity, and neo-Ludditism.

By Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park

‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd)

Numbers (CS 201 cd) [details…]

Personnel: Richard Barrett (electronics) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

Track listing: tolur (15:38), tricav (10:42), ankpla (10:46), uettet (5:17), creens (6:03), ll……. (11:42). Total duration: 60:00.

© + ℗ 2012 Creative Sources Recordings.

Broken Families: Collectivism, Violence, Imagined Utopias and Improvisation (a twitter transcript)

Just Improvisation: workshop performance (Belfast, May 30, 2015). Photo copyright 2015 Translating Improvisation.
Just Improvisation: workshop performance (Belfast, May 30, 2015). Photo © 2015 Translating Improvisation. [Original…]

Simon Rose: “Did you know how loud you were?”
Han-earl Park: “Oh. Yes.”
Rose: “I thought you did.”

Thoughts and questions in response to Translating Improvisation’s symposium back in May from the POV of an institutionally unaffiliated, sometimes teacher, amateur scholar and anthropologist [previous twitter transcripts…]. Below the fold is an unedited twitter transcript of my observations from Just Improvisation. My original observations came in the form of tweets (some written ‘live’, most posted subsequently) via @hanearlpark that spanned the first panel discussions, Ellen Waterman’s keynote presentation, concert performances by Okkyung Lee and Maria Chavez, the Deep Listening Workshop with Pauline Oliveros, and the workshop-performance which forms the main subject of my discussions.

My questions and observations are indebted to discussions with @franzschroeder, @wildsong, @tomarthursmusic, @pauljstapleton, @MortButane, @olivep, @davekanemusic, @zeittraumism, @nickreynoldsatp and @JoshSinton both on- and off- the twitterverse.

The rants (and typos), however, are entirely my own 😉

Twitter transcript (unedited)

Responses to Symposium Day 1: Belfast, May 29, 2015

May 29: Let’s start this w/ informal, visible demographic survey (a la #isim2014 #amspittsburgh #rsa2014)… #amateuranthropology #justimprovisation

May 29: …Suits. Lots* of suits. #amateuranthropology #justimprovisation

May 29: …* ‘Lots’ may be relative.** #amateuranthropology #justimprovisation

May 29: …** ‘Relative’ may speak more to the prejudices of the observer. #amateuranthropology #justimprovisation

May 29: ‘Adversity’ noun: “difficulties; misfortune”… #justimprovisation

May 29: …Potential tripping hazard in interdisciplinary meetings? possible misunderstanding(s) (creative or otherwise)? … #justimprovisation

May 29: …What is, for eg, the relationship btwn ‘adversity’ and ‘struggle’? #justimprovisation

May 29: …‘Adversity’ is not a term afaik improvisers enroll in their discussions, but ‘struggle,’ yes, often, maybe always. #justimprovisation

May 29: …Also ‘difficulty,’ ‘problematic,’ ‘risk’—difficult/problematic terms w/ differing creative/social ramifications. #justimprovisation

May 29: …false friends? I doubt these terms say much about the specifics of the creative or the social… #justimprovisation [1/2]

May 29: …—or their corresponding discourses—but it may be tempting to draw simple correlations. #justimprovisation [2/2]

May 29: …Like I said, potential tripping hazards. #mistakenembrace #justimprovisation

May 29: “Start to grapple with that fluidity.” #justimprovisation

May 29: ‘Proceduralized.’ Good word. Potential #artspeak right there. #linguisticdetritus #randomactsofpoetry #justimprovisation

May 29: “We’ve seen an 18% increase…” I’d love to write program/liner notes w/ this language. #technocracy #artspeak #justimprovisation

May 29: …How do we reconcile the need for ‘fluidity’ when the rhetorical justification uses… #linguisticdetritus #justimprovisation [1/2]

May 29: …such technocratic, bureaucratic language? #linguisticdetritus #justimprovisation [2/2]

May 29: “Risk”; that word again. #artspeak #linguisticdetritus #justimprovisation

May 29: Improvisation as an “unruly domain”. #justimprovisation

May 29: …Improvisation as a ’domain’? as a ‘site’? (Not an act?) #performance #identity #sociality #justimprovisation

May 29: Didn’t multiculturalism die at the hands of diversity? … #genuinequestion #justimprovisation

May 29: …or at least did not diversity explode the problematics (and necessary violence) of multiculturalism? #justimprovisation

May 29: “Musically satisfying ensemble.” ‘Satisfying’ #hmm By what criteria? #justimprovisation

May 29: ‘Recognition’ as the mechanism of identity (w/ minorities)? What about whiteness? heteronormativity? #hegemony #othering #justimprovisation

May 29: Equality = refusal to recognize difference. #justimprovisation

May 29: ‘Authentic self’? Is there the trap of essentialism there? #justimprovisation

May 29: Is the mechanism of improvisation based on exchanges? #genuinequestion #justimprovisation

May 29: I’ll ask this again for emphasis: Is exchange the primary/necessary/root mechanism of improvisation? #genuinequestion #justimprovisation

May 29: “Identities are always contingent.” Yes. This. #justimprovisation

May 29: Do the musical terms dissonance/harmony correspond to social/power relationship? … #justimprovisation

May 29: …or are we falling back on (liberal humanist) bad habits of old musicology? #justimprovisation

May 29: “Unvoicing of ulterity.” #justimprovisation

May 29: I don’t buy the distinction btw ‘traditional’ and ‘creative’ improvised musics. #idiom #tradition #creativity #justimprovisation

May 29: …pretty much said the same in a discussion with @tomarthursmusic afterwards. #justimprovisation

May 29: More thoughts: everytime I see OL perform, I think, damn; she’s better than the rest of us put together. #justimprovisation

May 29: Much transducer based music or #soundart would be improved by judicious enrolling of highpass filters. #impedance #justimprovisation

May 29 [in reply to…]: .@nickreynoldsatp I just don’t buy the one-on-one correspondence of musical and social dissonance/harmony. Instead… #justimprovisation [1/2]

May 29: .@nickreynoldsatp …it strikes me that _making_ the distinction btwn dissonance & harmony is the political act. #justimprovisation [2/2]

Responses to Symposium Day 2: Belfast, May 30, 2015

May 31: 0. Some more thoughts from the #justimprovisation symposium coming up…

May 31: 1. Find myself (my accident, of course) sitting next to @olivep during the Deep Listening workshop… #justimprovisation

May 31: 2. …and learned that I can not only listen thru the soles of my feet, but… #justimprovisation #body #physiology #listening

May 31: 3. …that I can triangulate the source of the vibration w/ two feet. Stereo! #justimprovisation #body #physiology #listening

May 31: 4. During the course of discussions, an improvising ensemble is frequently compared to that of a family… #justimprovisation

May 31: 5. …but escaping familiar relations are by degrees of magnitude so much harder than leaving an ensemble. #justimprovisation

May 31: 6. I am, however, reminded of the oft used terms ‘leader’ & ‘collective’ in the context of improvising micro-societies. #justimprovisation

May 31: 7. And tho we often idealize one form over another, ‘leader’ & ‘collective’ denote only 2 possible ways of organizing… #justimprovisation

May 31: 8. …each problematic, each utopian, in their way; neither quite fully descriptive of the dynamics of social play. #justimprovisation

May 31: 9. Leaders: such strong personalities (egos?) holding ensembles together… #justimprovisation

May 31: 10. …Ellington? Mingus? Bley? Guy? Mitchell? Paternalistic, nurturing, playful, autocratic, managerial, or bullying… #justimprovisation

May 31: 11. …Were we waiting for (or in need of) the ‘leader’ (such as @olivep) in the #justimprovisation ensemble…?

May 31: 12. In contrast to Call Them Improvisors! in 2011 in which we all bowed down to EP? #justimprovisation

May 31: 13. (Aside: but there may be no leaders, just those willing to be lead. We can too easily mistake effect for cause.) #justimprovisation

May 31: 14. Collective: idealized, utopian, but how do these work? How does collectivism work w/out violence to diversity…? #justimprovisation

May 31: 15. …afaik, closest to coop/‘family’ improvised musics was the AEC. But that ensemble emerged from Mitchell’s group… #justimprovisation

May 31: 16. …Felt as tho the #justimprovisation group desired (or felt we _should_ desire) a collective, but we were so polite (and yet so violent)…

May 31: 17. “Fuck you.” Someone says during the post-workshop discussions. ‘Yeah,’ I think, ‘exactly: “fuck you.”’ #justimprovisation

May 31: 18. Be back later with more thoughts on violence, alliances, autocracy and sociality coming up. #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 19. More thoughts on violence, alliances, autocracy and sociality from @translat_improv’s #justimprovisation symposium coming up…

Jun 24: 20. During #justimprovisation an improvising ensemble is frequently compared to that of a family… http://twitter.com/hanearlpark/status/604953995489234944

Jun 24: 21. …but familial relationships often seem less about choice of partners than, generally, a musical ensemble… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 22. …we choose our bands in a way we can’t always choose our families (or we get paid)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 23. …that aside, are dysfunctions similar in both groups? Maybe (but how you solve/escape them are radically different). #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 24. What happens in an ensemble is brought together w/ radically different agenda, desires, skills, character, or power…? #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 25. …And what happens when those social/musical dissonances/discords are not discussed…? #justimprovisation http://twitter.com/hanearlpark/status/605081182133465088

Jun 24: 26. I want to unpack this (realize this is prob directed at a certain guitarist): http://twitter.com/davekanemusic/status/605734075446513665 #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 27. …I had certain problems w/ the amplified, steady-state ‘drone’ proponents in the #justimprovisation ensemble. I had difficulty…

Jun 24: 28. …hearing the unamplified string players in the #justimprovisation group. (It seemed to me, in such a large ensemble, the…

Jun 24: 29. …only ones who should have free license to play continuous sustained gestures were the unamplified strings/flute)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 30. …the rest of us would have to be more careful (we could be loud, but those gestures would have to be short)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 31. …talking to one of the drone proponents during the break, he responded that he wanted everyone to play drones… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 32. …so the question: http://twitter.com/hanearlpark/status/605080336385617921 #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 33. …favorite pt of #justimprovisation may have been @MortButane (musical) response to Bennett Hogg: unexpected, oblique, left-field…

Jun 24: 34. …different, idiomatically discordant; recontextualizing Hogg’s playing (never to be heard the same way again)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 35. …how does one catalyze such (transformative) interactions and choices…? #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 36. …catalyze w/out ‘fixing’ the group (reminded of @JoshSinton: he’s not in the business of ‘saving’ an improvisation)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 37. When #justimprovisation group w/out the full complement of players (sans many quieter voices) start our performance in the afternoon

Jun 24: 38. …the ensemble launches into full-scale drone-works. I give up. It’s prob. unforgivable, but I walk off stage… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 39. …I remember thinking: ‘I do not want to be part of this drone warfare.’ (ironic considering what is to follow)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 40. …If I have a problem w/ how those drones were articulated, it wasn’t the loudness of it as such, but how it subsumed… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 41. …how it absorbed diversity and made it part of its identity. Which may be a kind of collectivism, but… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 42. …not a collective I wanted to be part of. #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 43. Feel it’s disrespectful to walk off stage, but done it x2 since an experience some years ago: http://improvisingguitar.blogspot.ie/2007/02/mob-behavior-and-hegemonic-impulse.html #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 44. …If leaving the stage is unforgivable, then rejoining it seems like, at best, very poor manners… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 45. …Essentially doing a pick’n’mix on what you decide to participate it. Where is the collective? collectivism? family? #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 46. In retrospect, going back on stage was a mistake, but once there, tried 2do what is the best role for the e. guitar… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 47. …nudge, push and pull, and catalyze the existing elements that are ‘desirable’… #machiavellian?… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 48. …but when those totalizing drones started up again for the umpteenth time, I exercised the nuclear option… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 49. …Nuclear option? I floored it: volume pedal toe down, playing at eleven… #justimprovisation? or #unjustimprovisation?

Jun 24: 50. …Nuclear option: did I say evoking drone warfare was ironic? http://twitter.com/hanearlpark/status/613656187708510208 #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 51. …I did American Foreign Policy—indiscriminate, “bomb them back into the Stone Age”—on the collective… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 52. …second time I’ve ever exercised the nuclear option, and, unlike last time, I’m _certain_ it was wrong wrong, wrong… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 53. …Despite what @wildsong @olivep said, feel my response really was… immoral? Maybe. Unethical? Probably. Wrong? Wrong… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 54. …Deniz Peters: “You autoerotic guitarist, you.” Ironic following statements about the non-semiotic nature of music? #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 55. …Simon Rose: “Did you know how loud you were?” “Oh. Yes.” “I thought you did.” #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 56. …Should someone ask for one (not that I expect anyone to), I would give my unconditional apology for what I did… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 57. …but my question is: given the (latent/overt/potential of) violence in the ensemble (as discussed in this thread)… #justimprovisation

Jun 24: 58. …what _should_ I have done? #justimprovisation

Jun 26 [in reply to…]: .@JoshSinton No. Didn’t expect them to, but… your Q gets me asking who they should have apologized to (if at all)… #justimprovisation [1/2]

Jun 26: .@JoshSinton …to those whose voices got absorbed into the hive, or those who had difficulty hearing those voices? #justimprovisation [2/2]

Jun 26 [in reply to…]: .@JoshSinton Good question. Hmm… maybe no apologies are necessary (just some group counseling). #justimprovisation

Jun 26: .@JoshSinton As for my initial statement, for me, it’s the fact that I dropped (the musical equivalent of) nukes… #justimprovisation [1/2]

Jun 26: .@JoshSinton …wrong is wrong regardless of the reasons that compelled it. #justimprovisation [2/2]

update: Just Improvisation, Belfast

Just Improvisation (flyer copyright 2015 Translating Improvisation)
© 2015 Translating Improvisation

May 29 and 30, 2015: as previously posted, I’ve been invited to participate in Just Improvisation: Enriching child protection law through musical techniques, discourses and pedagogies. See below for the program including the list of musicians involved. The symposium, organized by Translating Improvisation, takes place at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Queen’s University, Belfast, N. Ireland). Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

See the performance diary for up-to-date info. [Translating Improvisation page…]


Fri 29 May 2015

2:00pm: Welcome & Introduction (Paul Stapleton and Sara Ramshaw)

2:15pm: Panel 1: ‘Child Protection as Social Practice: Challenges and Possibilities’
Chaired by: Marcella Leonard (Independent Social Worker) with: Denise McBride QC (Senior Barrister) and John Devaney (Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast – School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work)

3:45pm: Coffee/Tea Break

4:00pm: Keynote 1: Ellen Waterman, ‘Improvisation and the Audibility of Difference’

5:00pm: Wine Reception

5:30pm: Double-bill concert: Okkyung Lee and Maria Chavez

Sat 30 May 2015

9:45am: Coffee/Tea

10:00am: Deep Listening Workshop (led by Pauline Oliveros)

11:00am: Parallel Workshops: Musical Improvisation / Hydra (Legal Improvisation)
Improvisation workshop musicians: Paul Stapleton, Adnan Marquez-Borbon, Maria Chavez, Okkyung Lee, Pauline Oliveros, Ellen Waterman, Tom Arthurs, Matt Bourne, Dave Kane, Steve Davis, Phil Smyth, Simon Rose, Michael Speers, Dennis Peters, Han-earl Park, Ed Devane, Bennett Hogg and Rachel Austin

1:00pm: Lunch break

2:00pm: Panel 2: Informal performances and open discussion about workshops

3:00pm: Keynote 2: Pauline Oliveros, ‘The Ethics and Practice of Listening’

4:00pm: Coffee/Tea

4:15pm: Panel 3 & Plenary Discussion: ‘Imagining the Future’
Chaired by Georgina Born (Professor of Music and Anthropology, Oxford) with: Siobhan Keegan QC (President of the Family Bar Association of Northern Ireland)

5:15pm: Closing Remarks (Sara Ramshaw and Paul Stapleton)

Just Improvisation, Belfast

Just Improvisation (flyer copyright 2015 Translating Improvisation)
© 2015 Translating Improvisation

May 29 and 30, 2015: I am honored and excited to be invited to participate in Just Improvisation: Enriching child protection law through musical techniques, discourses and pedagogies. The symposium, organized by Translating Improvisation, takes place at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Queen’s University, Belfast, N. Ireland). Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

See the performance diary for up-to-date info.


05–16-15: see update for program and list of participating musicians.

performance diary 04-14-15 (Belfast, Cambridge, London, Manchester)

upcoming performances
date venue time details
May 2, 2015 St. Margaret’s Church
Rufford Road
Whalley Range
Manchester M16 8AE
5:00pm Han-earl Park (guitar) and Dominic Lash (double bass) with Corey Mwamba (vibraphone) as part of the Tubers MiniFestival. Also performing: Bark! (Rex Casswell, Phillip Marks and Paul Obermayer), Cathy Heyden and Rogier Smal, Roseanne Robertson, Vitalija Glovackyte and Joe Snape, and Ortho Stice. Admission: £8.
[Details…] [Tubers pags…]
May 3, 2015 Music Room
Robinson College
Grange Road
Cambridge CB3 9AN
7:00pm Han-earl Park (guitar) and Dominic Lash (double bass). Also performing: David Grundy and Martin Hackett. Admission free.
May 4, 2015 Bar & Co.
Temple Pier
London WC2R, England
8:30pm (doors: 8:00pm) Han-earl Park (guitar) and Dominic Lash (double bass) presented by Boat-ting. Also performing: Steve Noble (drums), Massimo Magee (saxophone) and Tom Wheatly (double bass); Tom Jackson (clarinet), Benedict Taylor (viola) and Daniel Thompson (guitar); Crush!!! (Ian MacGowan: trumpet; Sonic Pleasure: masonry; and Mark Browne: saxophone); and Sibyl Madrigal (poetry) and Alex Ward (clarinet). Admission: £8 (£5).
[Details…] [Boat-ting page…]
May 29 and 30, 2015 Sonic Arts Research Centre
Queen’s University
Belfast, N. Ireland
Program… Han-earl Park participates in the Just Improvisation symposium organized by Translating Improvisation.
Admission free.
[Details…] [Translating Improvisation page…]
2015– Europe I am based in Europe as of 2014, and I am seeking performance opportunities for, in particular, my Europe-based projects including Numbers (with Richard Barrett), Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith), and my trio with Dominic Lash and Mark Sanders. Interested promoters, venues and sponsors, please get in touch!

Continue reading “performance diary 04-14-15 (Belfast, Cambridge, London, Manchester)”

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.

thanks: Eris 136199 (ISIM, NYC), Rasmussen-Foster-Niggenkemper-Park (DMG, NYC) and Park-Rainey (Why Not Jazz Room, NYC)

A belated note of thanks for all involved in the June 6, June 6 (no that’s not a typo—two performances on that day), and June 8 events. Thanks to the folk at ISIM, and in particular to Richard Robeson, Billy Satterwhite and Ed Sarath for organizing, curating and facilitating the event, and to Christopher Hoffman for the tech support; to Bruce and everyone at Downtown Music Gallery, the World’s Greatest Record Store (seriously, go buy a record from them right now); and to Andrea Wolper and her amazing series, and to Why Not Jazz Room. Thanks also to the multiple documentarists: videographers Don Mount and Juan Ant [watch/listen…], and to photographer Peter Gannushkin [see…].

As always, big thanks to the creative folk who shared the stage with me; it’s always a privilege. Applaud these folk: Mette Rasmussen, Michael Foster, Pascal Niggenkemper; Tom Rainey (how does one perform with a drummer who can anticipate every move?); and the two that complete Eris 136199: Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora (always a blast).

Finally, thanks to all who came to listen. That’s to be my last visit to New York for sometime, and, audience big or small, it’s always a pleasure to perform for you.

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