Erik Spangler > Orientation #106 // Sound Studio Improv

Matt, Hanna, Abdullah and I got together in Studio 3 Friday afternoon for a free improvisation that we streamed live on The recorded video stream from the first part of our hour-plus session can be viewed here.

Abdullah performed via LiSa and JunXion with a joystick. Matt performed with both of these programs in addition to Ableton Live, using Ableton synths and his sample bank. Hanna played tenor saxophone and Launchpad (I’m not sure which software she was controlling). I moved between a variety of Live sets and mixed these with improvisation on one turntable. In retrospect I would have liked to begin with more of a blank canvas rather than my familiar structure of pre-assembled set material, which is inherently less responsive to new input from outside. Next session I would really like to integrate more fully the performance approaches I have been thinking about while here at STEIM- creating through the actions and reactions of the moment. In any case, I felt that there were some great moments as a group improvisation and I look forward to the next jam.

I went to an amazing show on Thursday night at the Bimhuis- CORKESTRA, a group of Dutch free improvisers who have been on the scene for a long time: Ab Baars, Anne La Berge, Cor Fuhler, Michael Vatcher, Nora Mulder, Tobias Delius, Tony Buck, and Wilbert de Joode. This performance was a fantastic blend of audible structure and free improv, with strong sound images throughout. The more pre-composed openings, meeting points, and endings were easily extended into free interactions among the musicians. I also appreciated the subtle wit with the bending of genre expectations, introducing unexpected stylistic change-ups at many points.

Thursday and Friday we also excellent presentations by Daniel Schorno (Applied LiSa & JunXion with eponymous instruments), Taku Mizuta Lippit (Thinking about new instruments), and Robert van Heuman (Electro-instrumentalism, live sampling and split-second decisions). All of these talks were excellent in providing a window into the creative decisions and performance strategies that they have chosen as individual artists.

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About Erik Spangler

Erik Spangler (Ph.D. Harvard University, 2004) is a composer and electronic musician working within a wide range of listening environments. His compositions have been performed across the United States and internationally from Canada to China, by ensembles including the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and International Contemporary Ensemble. Expanding upon turntablist performance practice, Spangler performs “fizzy, angular susurrations” (Ann Arbor Observer) and patterns on diverse electronics, creating music ranging from “a skillful merger of recorded Arabic phrases flecked with DJ turntable effects” (Washington Post) to “rigorous … improvisatory” (Gramophone) compositions with a range of chamber ensembles. His music may be heard on Innova Recordings, indie hip-hop label Nonsense Records, and live in spaces ranging from academic concert halls to art galleries, from clubs to sidewalks. Performances include collaborations with duYun, Rare Degree, Oxter, S.K.I.P., VJ Art Jones, Cornell Symphony Orchestra, and Ithaca College Percussion Ensemble. Spangler works regularly with saxophonist Brian Sacawa as the genre-bending duo Hybrid Groove Project. Along with Sacawa, Spangler is also co-founder of the Contemporary Museum's Mobtown Modern music series in Baltimore.

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