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Aesthetic Distinctions and Musical Lives
section, and this category, defined by those who alternated between several aesthetics
and voices over the course of a single performance, was best typified by cellist Tristan
Honsinger (as well as several younger musicians in their late-20s and early-30s, and
especially those performing in Sowieso, the salon and The Great Heisenberg).40 In this
area, a typical concert might include elements of jazz, Neue Musik-influenced virtuosity,
theatrical vocal outbursts and melodies with the simplicity of children’s songs, and
these approaches were united by the single rule that all of these styles (and more) could,
and should, be allowable and possible.41
To Summarise
While the musicians discussed in this section represented the widest extremes of
performers dealing with multiple sub-styles of Improvised Music, others nonetheless
located themselves within this framework - allowing themselves more or less flexibility,
in terms of both their own voice (or voices) and the range of aesthetics (or sub-styles)
in which they participated.
To conclude this section, the following list summarises these positions, and proposes
the extremes of the continuum within which Berlin’s improvisers situated their musical
lives and practices:
1. Musicians with a voice/set of musical materials that were instantly recognisable,
and stayed more-or-less constant:
– who played in a relatively confined set of styles (Mahall).
– who played with musicians from a wide range of different sub-styles of
Improvised Music (Rupp).
2. Musicians who changed their voice/materials between different performances and
bands, and who considered that what united their work was on a deeper, more
conceptual level:
– for whom it was important that each project had a separate function, and
who consciously left things in, and out, of each context (Thieke, with a wider
spread; Beins, with a lesser).
– who may have had some projects where things were separate, but who
also created projects where everything was possible, and several different
Of those interviewed here, Els Vanderweyer, trumpeter Reuben Lewis and Anna Kaluza (especially
with the Haman Quartet).
Honsinger was an inspiration to many musicians interested in this approach - drummer Steve
Heather explaining, “What I love about [playing with Tristan is that] you can just go anywhere”, and
23-year old newcomer Reuben Lewis commenting, following his first performance with Honsinger at
Sowieso, that, “We went everywhere. It was an absolutely wild ride!”.
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