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Chapter 6
8. ‘All-Over’ Improv
Typified by the youngest generation in Berlin (late 20s-early 30s), but characterised here
using a term introduced by Chris Heenan (who was a little older), All-Over Improv was
Improvised Music that veered between any, or all, of the above aesthetics within one
performance - alternating textural sections with Free Jazz, or interspersing atonal Neue
Musik-like pitched music with bouts of acoustic noise. Such musicians were aware of
many, or all, of the above styles of Improvised Music, and mixed them knowingly.
Two Umbrella Terms
In addition to these eight aesthetic sub-styles of Improvised Music-making, two umbrella
terms (not referring to aesthetics, but to general approaches and social cliques) were also
used to differentiate between different musical practices, and to conclude this section,
these are briefly outlined below.
1. Instant Music, Immediate Music, Real-time Music
Not dependent on aesthetics, terms such as ‘Instant’, ‘Immediate’ and ‘Real-time’ were
used to place the emphasis on energy, and the fact that music was being created
‘in the moment’ - deliberately avoiding the issues of terms such as ‘improvised’ and
‘composed’,13 and stylistic and aesthetic considerations.
2. Echtzeitmusik
As shown in Chapter 2, far from referring to a specific aesthetic or approach, and
not to be confused with Berlin Reductionism, the term Echtzeitmusik pointed to
the activities of musicians from the Echtzeitmusik-scene, which itself was defined by
the social milieu of mid-1990s Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. Many such musicians
were involved in the Reductionist movement, however the Echtzeitmusik-scene also
included performers working in electronic music, Neue Musik, visual art, avant-pop and
performance art.14
‘acoustic noise’ was related to me by clarinettist Michael Thieke, who, one day with Rupp on the S-Bahn,
was asked by some youths what kind of music he and Rupp played. The answer, rather than Improvised
Music (which they considered would be meaningless to the young men they had met), was Acoustic
Chris Heenan told me, “It’s funny, I have some friends in the States who are in this kind-of creative
music area, but they stopped using the ‘i-word’. It kinda became the ‘i-word’, a dirty word. Because it
somehow implies that you’re not thinking about it ahead of time. This is not fully true.” See Chapter 8
for more on the question of ‘How improvised is Improvised Music?’, and an Improvised Music-specific
definition of the term ‘improvisation’.
See pp. 45 and 46.