For this weeks post, I have uploaded an improvisation based on some material for a flute solo I am currently working on. The materials included are pitch bends, altered timbres and my latest obsession: multiphonic tremoli (you have probably heard these in my previous posts). Most of the sounds in this piece are based on the fingering for low B with different keys either vented or trilled, or both. I have managed to scrawl a rough draft of this piece finally, and perhaps soon there will be a post of the piece itself. In the meantime this improvisation will hold its place.
For this improvisation I used a new fingering I learned that readily lends itself to some pretty cool multiphonic tremoli. I enjoyed exploring this fingering in washes of sound and then making little melodies out of the fingering and similar ones. The style of the tremolo-multiphonics is inspired by Neil Welch, from whom I was very fortunate to receive a lesson a couple of weeks ago.
Please enjoy 🙂
So I have already broken two of my own rules: first of all, this track is late, having been posted on Monday instead of Saturday. I have an excuse! I’ve been super busy and really tired! (Yeah, yeah, excuses excuses. All ya had to do was post the track!)
The second broken rule is the one of time. This one is seven minutes long – but it’s worth it. For this recording, I was lucky enough to have, at my place one week ago today, the fabulous violinist and composer Julio Lopez (look him up at https://soundcloud.com/juliolopez-11). It was the first time we had ever played together outside of class, and the first time we had done a free improvisation together. We did several that day, and the one I present before you is the cream of that delicious crop. There were times when it was very hard to play because I wanted to grin so badly – Julio has a way of playing exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. The effect is divine. Now, if only I could smile while playing the flute…
Here it is August already, and school is about to start. Not that I will be going this year – instead, I am busy putting together my portfolio to apply for Grad School. I am not sure what my Master’s will actually be in, but I do know that one way or another I will be studying composition, improvisation and the flute. I could end up in Northern California, Southern California or even New York. So stay tuned, there will be more about that process to come. In the meantime, here is the first official installment of Extended Horizons. For this improvisation, I used an unconventional fingering that produces several different multiphonics. With this fingering, and similar ones, I created a kind of ‘bamboo’ melody which I then interspersed with tremolo sections in which I experimented with some of the multiple tones that can be produced by this fingering. I recorded this improvisation on the top floor of Kerry Hall at Cornish College of the Arts, the same room in which Nellie Cornish slept when she still ran the school. This isn’t the most ideal for practicing because it makes you sound so good, but it worked well for recording, because it made me sound pretty good! So while the sun set over glittering blue-grey Seattle, I played this little number for you….
I have been looking over my work for the past month and have decided that it is time to take my improvisation project to the next level. One pattern I have noticed is the tendency to improvise for long stretches of time, often including multiple ‘pieces’ in one shot. While there is nothing wrong with that, it’s time to shift gears. One of my long term goals is to learn to make coherent pieces when I improvise; free improvisation is not, and should never be confused with, idle noodling. Another pattern I have noticed is how freely I can wander into wildly different material, riding whatever wave is coursing through my brain at the time. Again, not a problem per se, but the more material I include at once, the harder it is to create those coherent pieces. One last thing I picked up on – I often discover new sounds in the middle of improvising, and immediately forget what I did when it’s all over.
So to take all this to the next level, I am now setting two parameters for myself:
1) Each improvisation will be no longer than four minutes
2) Each improvisation will include the use of a handful of pre-determined sounds. This way, the improvisation will hopefully be more focused and will explore the possibilities of the sounds and techniques in question without them going in one ear and out the other.
I will continue to post recordings once a week on Saturdays. With each recording, I will include a description of my process and what inspired me on that particular day. In doing this, I hope to grow as a musician, but also to create a piece of artwork (s) for you, my dear listeners. Any feedback is welcome. And in case you are wondering, the title of this project is ‘Extended Horizons’. Thankyou for listening and please enjoy.