Improvizone

M3M 3 with fleeting appearance by your host

Andrew Booker 2007-10-29 00:48:33

Eight minutes.

That is possibly an overestimate of the length of time I spent performing on Saturday with White Noise at the third Music for the 3rd Millennium gig lasting two and half hours. I did all the links last time. Can't be arsed this time, except in mentioning the great pleasure it was to meet the (I now realise) legendary David Vorhaus. I'll tell you this. Improvizone gigs are also 2.5hrs, and if you play at one of those, you get to play for more than 10 minutes.

To be fair to Mark (Jenkins), as he suggested, there was probably a great deal more playing I could have done at that gig. As well as the singing, I did about four times as much playing in the soundchecks as I did in the performance. The trouble was, explain as he might where the Indian-style piece was in the running order that Mark suggested I play over, firstly I'd never heard it before so I didn't recognise it when it came, secondly it already had plenty of drumming without me clattering all over it, and thirdly the only temporal reference available to me was the existing drumming. Eg no click. In a big boomy room. I didn't want to risk it.

I know what you're thinking. This is what happens when you don't rehearse. Honestly Andrew, if you guys had rehearsed, firstly you could have done bits of drumming all over the place. And secondly, you would have known in advance that Mark's new backing arrangement for Firebird (mixed to a handy mp3) was going to sound no good, and he could have tinkered with it, rather than make you sing over the original, complete with not quite perfect intonation from... (look it up for yourselves). Actually the singing went reasonably well, although if I had known I was going to be doubling the original vocals, I would have paid a bit more attention to the original phrasing. There was the occasional detuned chorusing of the live and recorded voices. And there was the occasional metrical clash of words too...

I would agree about the rehearsal thing. If you're going to do arranged pieces, you have to rehearse. Why, in Improvizone, do we never rehearse? It's because of my philosophy that arranged stuff is not the only path to delight and beauty in music. In Improvizone, the idea is that we turn up with a big range of sounds between us. That, and a reasonable set of skills in musical forms and shapes, is enough to make great ambient bar music, and music that can be terrific to pay attention to as well.

In our next few gigs, for which I have been sorting out the wiring these last few hours, Os is going to send me a click from Ableton. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. Mark was hesitant about being able to provide me with a click for future gigs, of which there are a few pencilled for drumming augmentation with his Cellistica project. I'd love to do these, and fortunately the click solution is easy. I can provide my own. All I need to know is the tempo, I can sync myself manually provided I don't need to be playing right from the beginning.

A veteran of... ooh... eight gigs with the full kit and recording setup for Improvizone, I have tasted and savoured the benefits of ironing out the setup before the gig, and got it from car to playable in about 15 minutes. Mark and David grappled with theirs for an hour and half (including all Mark's lights and controllers). For this gig I was using a cut-down version of the electronic drums with only the SPD-S as the controller and two extra PD-80R pads plugged into its spare sockets. From the stereo out, I passed one channel through a simple phaser, and sent the other though a feedback loop containing a pure delay (no dry signal, no repetition feedback) and my handbuilt distortion and autowah. The loop goes through the mixing desk, from which I can monitor the delay pre- and post- dist/wah, and get it to scream and howl if I feel like it. Which I did.

You can get nice stereo with this, but I've come to think stereo is strictly for recordings through headphones, and is a waste of cables for lives purpose. So it was a single channel of drums and my vocal mic to Mark for the PA, and a copy to my monitor (which was actually more powerful). Worked pretty well. What there was of it :)

ISPs << | >> Gig nine