Context as orientation and practice
In this project, writing about context has to turn two ways. On one side, I will describe my context as the orientation of the project towards existing art and research. On the other side, I will position my context as a practice, a prism through which I researched musical colour and surface, in a daily routine – and how that turned into new music.
Context as Orientation:
Starting with the background for my process, as has been touched on earlier, it is of obvious relevance to mention that during my education I considered myself a jazz musician – though even then, that term was up for negotiation all the time. Coming out of artists such as Paul & Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Alice & John Coltrane, Julius Hemphill, Tim Berne, Roscoe Mitchell, Marilyn Crispell, Anthony Braxton, Albert Ayler, Paul Motian, Ornette Coleman, Geri Allen, etc., has formed the way I imagine music on many levels. Also, the entire jazz piano tradition had an immense influence on my path to learning the instrument, from Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington & Teddy Wilson, through Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols & Mary Lou Williams, to Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Hasaan Ibn Ali, Horace Tapscott, Cecil Taylor, Richie Beirach, Paul Lovens, Richard Grossman, Myra Melford & Alexander von Schlippenbach. On a more contemporary note, my path as well as this project is obviously related to and informed by the work of current artists such as Benoit Delbecq, Tyshawn Sorey, Django Bates, Magda Mayas, Jason Moran, Ingrid Laubroch, Chris Speed, Tony Malaby, Gerald Cleaver, Craig Taborn, Cory Smythe, Kris Davis, Achim Kaufman, Søren Kjærgaard & Kaja Draksler.
All of the above is mentioned here to give perspective to how the project moved some distance away from that background:
1) In terms of the dimensional/parametrical approach described in the section Texture, very obvious influences would be György Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki, Kaajia Sariaho, Lotte Anker & Art Ensemble of Chicago, and to some extend Giacinto Scelsi, Georg Friedrich Haas, Tristan Murail & Gerard Grisey.
2) Relating to the systematically pantonal harmony-mapping work described in the section Harmony, the most obvious musical references are to Anton Webern, Morton Feldman, Carla Bley, Jimmy Giuffre & Wayne Shorter.
3) Regarding the process that I describe on this page (in the column to the right), leading to the “Anterior Current” reinterpretation of European New Music solo piano repertoire, the main context is obviously the post WW2 solo piano music of Ligeti, Boulez, Stockhausen, Feldman, Takemitsu, but also the ethics and aesthetics of Brian Eno & Pauline Oliveros, as well as the whole discussion about what normatively constitutes the core of the contemporary New Music narrative – which I will get back to below.
In terms of Artistic Research (AR) context, I would like to first remind that all of the above mentioned artists were/are artistic researchers as a central part of their practice. Most of them, especially anyone related to the jazz and improvisation tradition, were/are not part of an institutionalized AR community, but we have to not write history the wrong way. Had there been equal opportunities for equal talent and equal level of work, across ethnicities, genre and gender, the history of AR would look vastly different. These years, as the institutions around AR grow, settle and stiffen, we must insist on keeping alive the stories of the artists that unjustly did not see their work officially accepted as Artistic Reserach. We must carry forward their art, insigths and perspectives, though they did not benefit from (the power and economy of) institutionalized AR programmes.
That being said, here are some notes on this project’s Artistic Research context:
Artistic Research Projects, highly related in content as well as topic:
Magda Mayas: Orchestrating Timbre (RC, 2019).
Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard: Music for the Inner Ear (RC, 2019).
Marilyn Nonken, “An ecological approach to music perception: stimulus-driven listening and the Complexity Repertoire", (PhD thesis, 1999).
Michael Duch: Free Improvisation – method and genre (RC, 2015).
Søren Kjærgaard: Multi-layeredness in Solo Performance (RC, as of writing still in peer review).
Lotte Anker: Tekstur og formdannelse i komposition for større ensemble af improvisatorer. (in progress)
Steen Sandell: On the Inside of Silence (På insidan av tystnaden). Swedish Doktorant Dissertation, 2013, book + albums. Published on RC: Vertikalakustik med horisontell prosodi (2018).
Magda Mayas, Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard & Lotte Anker all have conducted investigations on sounds and timbre, similar to the ones in this project.
Mayas, investigating extended piano playing techniques, shows how the different techniques can be thought of as elements (”Videos of Inside piano Techniques” on the Introduction page) as well as dealt with in a dimensional/parametrical space (on ”Perceptual Timbre Maps”).
Lyhne, in Music for the Inner Ear, and especially in Anthology of Sound, focusing on imaginary sounds, lists a huge number of sound elements, some including combinations of several describing parameters.
Kjærgaard has, through video documentations of elements in his acoustic solo work, arrived at a meta statement, in which the elements are combined in highly permutated form into a whole new work, the dissemination of a creative practice becoming an art work in itself.
Anker, in the still unpublished “Tekstur og formdannelse i komposition for større ensemble af improvisatorer”, works in a medium sized group setting on clarifying zones for improvising. The zones, very open, yet recognizable, are verbally defined as elements, not unlike the logic in Braxton’s Language music.
The direct informedness of this project from the works of Nonken and Braxton has been discussed on the Texture page. Let me reiterate here that of the above mentioned AR projects, only Nonken’s and parts of Mayas’ written reflections address the mapping of not just elements, but also their underlying parameters/dimensions in the mapping of respectively timbre/sound/layers/texture. In any case, all of the above mentioned projects were a huge source of inspiration and information into the project.
Duch’s & Sandell’s projects are also related to this project, especially in terms of their aesthetic (what kind of musical domains were investigated). In very differing ways they share reflections on the meaning and the means of the art work at hand – in Duch’s case, also on a tour of certain traditions of aesthetics. However, their approach to mapping and reflection make them differ quite widely from this project along lines such as what is being mapped during the investigations, and how does the mapping and reflection inform the following actions.
A few additional Artistic Research projects, less related in content or method, though definitely related in topic:
Morten Qvenild: The HyPer(sonal) Piano Project (RC 2019)
Ivar Grydeland: Ensemble & Ensemble of Me (RC 2017)
Also of obvious relevance, though created outside of formalized AR-institutions, are:
- Ingrid Laubroch: Contemporary Chaos Practice,
- the works and process of the ensemble Dell-Lillinger-Westergaard,
- the music and writings of Anthony Braxton,
- Carla Bley’s compositions for the bands of Paul Bley and Jimmy Giuffrie,
- Hermeto Pascoal's compositions for Miles Davis' bands around 1970,
- Morton Feldman’s music after 1970, and
- the 1960’s orchestral works of a.o. György Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki & Iannis Xenakis.