Audrey Chen/Nate Wooley/Seamus Cater/Robert van Heumen > Structured improv research

In 2005, Seamus Cater (laptop/wacom tablet), Nate Wooley (trumpet) and Robert van Heumen (laptop/controllers) played together with Jack Wright (saxophone) at the Kraakgeluiden concert series. This collaboration was very ad-hoc, without preparation. A year later Nate returned, bringing Audrey Chen (cello/voice/analog synth) and Lionel Kaplan (trumpet) to play as Silo. The second set in this DNK concert was Nate, Audrey, Seamus and Robert. Again this was a completely improvised set.
Both concerts were succesfull, but the idea came up to spend more time together to develop some kind of structure to guide the improvisation.
So we got into STEIM’s studio 1 from October 10 – 15, planning to present the initial results at a STEIM concert on Oct 12, and the final presentation at DNK on Monday Oct 15.
The constraints for this research were:

  • 3 acoustic intruments: Nate on trumpet, Audrey on cello & voice, Seamus on harmonica (yes: Seamus switched instruments!);
  • 1 electronic instrument (Robert on laptop), mainly sampling the acoustic instruments;
  • describing global structures in terms of soundworlds and transitions between them.

The final structures that were defined are:

  • Noise / high tones / point-to-pitch: starting with a more or less constant noisy texture, until Seamus would come in with these crazy high pitches from the harmonica – we would all join him there, until someone starts with injecting discrete short sounds – again followed by others, slowly transforming the short sounds to sustained pitches, ending in a romantic way 😉
  • Breathing layers: everyone in his own ‘breathing’ tempo playing textural sounds – trying not to pay attention to others wrt breath lengths – so these would sometimes coincide, but usually be independent of eachother; somewhere during this process more rythmical ‘breaths’ would emerge, building up to some kind of polyrythmical structure; going back to the original breaths, that would end it.


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