05 February 2024

SoundOut 2024 / 3

Next was a morning workshop featuring two bassists.  How could I not attend?  We were in the smaller performance room, bare walls and very alive, with about 20 attendees.  First part was Helen Svoboda with Maria Moles.  They first performed, then discussed their approach, how they outline their performances and guide their improvisations, how they interpret an image or theme as parameters.  Parameters was from writings of Anthony Braxton, possibly otherwise expressed as expression and relevant to the theme you wish to play, so a rolling landscape may be interpreted as long, gentle notes and Jackson Pollock would be short or staccato.  And how players perform together conceptually and musically.  I particularly enjoyed the conversation and broader aspects of musicianship and their personal journeys, like, how Helen records lots of her practice and releases an albums each year (three so far on Spotify) or how Maria also plays pop/indie and how it's all relevant.  And the group finally played together with some guidance on parameters.  This was particularly relevant because Clayton Thomas took the second half of the session to prepare us to perform later as the Large Ensemble.  He introduced a series of rules to guide our performance which were later to become a little more complex with the addition of several of the performing players for performance that night.  Some rules were: only play in space; play short notes; look up and be aware of others' playing; long notes allowed when you respond to other/s; whenever you introduce a new phrase/note, play your previous notes/phrases first, thus 1, 1, 1-2... A later prep session would expand to include a structure: Miro introduces, all play the rules above, Helen starts quiet drone, Novak solos over drone as the ensemble crescendos very, very slowly to overwhelm piano then stop on signal.  Thus is experimental music.  I understand it better now.

A workshop was in two parts with Helen Svoboda (bass) and Maria Moles (drums) then Clayton Thomas (bass, large ensemble leader).

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