Ahead of the LUME Festival set I'm doing on Saturday (oh—and you should buy your tickets if you're coming), I thought I'd write a bit about what we will be doing, for those who may be interested!
Primarily, this will be about making some great music with some fantastic musicians (Robert Mitchell, Rachel Musson, Liran Donin, and Richard Olatunde). But I'm also hoping to highlight a very specific element of how musicians interact with the vibraphone.
The piece is called as_the_tex(t): body and it's come out of my research so far. I am looking at perceptions of the sound of the vibraphone in jazz and improvised music, with particular focus on personal voice. Most other studies focus on mallet manipulation, note choice, or what percussionists might call "extended technique"; my work turns away from those things to look at identity, aesthetics and the instrumental relationship between the performer (in this case, me) and vibraphone. as_the_tex(t): body comes under the identity and instrumental relationship parts of my study.
Because I feel it's important to present improvisation at the front of the music, I categorise this piece as a guided improvisation. The distinction isn't really for anyone else but me, but it might also help others understand the process of the music on Saturday.
What is the process? The group will be using my body in musical action as a dynamic score. I have written a guide to influence and direct my performance on vibraphone; phrases that will suggest an improvisation. The other performers are given descriptions of seven discrete physical states or poses that my body takes up while playing. Each pose is assigned a guiding statement for the performer’s improvisation. When the performer observes the pose in me, they will improvise using the their guiding statement until they register another movement or they feel that musically they should move on or improvise independently.
So the improvisational work is made up of two guides—one for me (which I have performed solo twice now) and one for the others. At the same time, the piece should present one of the ways that musicians and audiences listen to the vibraphone—an aspect of listening that takes in the body of the performer, and the intelligence/identity of the body. But as I said at the beginning, you don't need to worry about any of this: I'm highly certain it will just be great music!