Sunday, 8 November 2009

A day of sing song, talk back and fiddle de dee

A few days/weeks ago me, Steve Lewis and Beth Allen finally managed to get ourselves together in the same room at the same time with the same purpose - to sing, sound and improvise.

While we'd managed a few hours back in September it had felt many many months since we'd last had productive play time together (April was the last posting I could find about our 'project' in this blog).

So we had to start with the usual routine of trying to remember what we'd done last time and what of what we'd done we'd enjoyed. This unfortunately comprises of us all bent over Steve's notebook and trying to decipher his writing and then what the word he'd scribbled, percussive or theme might allude to in terms of what we did.

Slow dawnings of memory: the stretching out of words; the creation of sound narratives - stories without meaningful words; improvising/riffing off the ideas of curse and bless.

As usual we'd had a fine old time of it but without a true sense of what next.

This time we wanted (well, Steve wanted, but me and Beth were happy to go along with him) to create some space to unpick what we'd done, specifically to explore previous ideas through overload and then through miminalism.

The beginnings of our sessions are always hard for me because suddenly I'm being asked to produce stuff - even if it's a meaningless sound - in front of people and my usual response is 'I can't'. A bit of arm swinging is usually a good start. And faith and trust in Steve and Beth, which I have in bucketloads, otherwise I wouldn't have even got involved in this in the first place.

The overload turned into a crazy cacophony of screeching, voice and dischordance, while the minimalist approach was altogether more interesting, more tense for us. So we pushed this idea further. Each of us came up with rules for us to follow (or break if you're Beth, she's so naughty): a word each over a minute, then two words each, and a sound, then repeating someone else's sound over two minutes, with the aim of creating a story or sense of 'something'.

While we never knew what the others were about to say or produce, or when, we were still trying to riff off each other and build up a palate of sound. It required intense listening to each other, ourselves and the wider space too.

Inevitably it became very poetic: sparse, chiming sounds, echoes and silence.

Inevitably I loved it.

Inevitably we didn't record it so have no real sense of how it might be for an audience. So we've made dates to have three whole days to build up to something that might be enjoyable for others.

We'd had such a good time we hadn't even invited Mr Puppet to join in, although Beth did find some superb hair for him. Maybe next time.

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