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Making Music and Defining Improvisation: Materials and Personal Work
175
And, telling me about sounds created by recording drums and sending these into delays
and gates in ProTools, whilst still avoiding entirely synthesised sounds (“more or less
kind of as a small dogma”), Tricoli’s attitude to his materials was contrary to Zazie’s
wish that the source of each sound remained recognisable:
I arrived at points where the sound I was starting from was this [scrunches
some paper on the table], and the final sound, after all the processing,
sounded exactly like a huge metal door slamming... And people say, “But
where did you record it, this metal door so well?”. And I’m like “Man, it’s
actually this” [rustles the paper again]. It’s like “Ugh?!!”. [disbelief ]
Just like Zazie, however, Tricoli used the process of recording and re-recording:
I work a lot with stuff on tape, so I do maybe I do field recordings, I process
them with the tape, put them into the computer, then maybe I do some
computer stuff on them, I re-record them on tape.
And he described his process as follows:
With synthesisers you sort of start from nothing, whereas I like maybe this
idea of sculpting something that is already there, like you have a sculpture
and you already see in this block of marble, you already see what’s inside...
you start to carve it and obtain it.
Recording, Reflecting and ‘Just Playing’
To complete this survey of how improvising musicians practise and prepare for
performance, this section looks at musicians who practised improvisation in private,
either alone or along to records, and who would record these improvisations in order to
reflect and learn from the process.
As bassist Mike Majkowski described:
Self-evaluation through recording has been a big part of my solo development.
[...] I would record each technique for extended periods of time and I would
listen back, and, with a pen and paper, basically analyse and critique
and write down all the interesting things, and write down what’s actually
happening physically and sonically. And from that half an hour there might
be one minute where I was like “Wow”, and then I’d take that one minute,
and try and do that one minute for half an hour. [...] Zooming in, this kind
of microscopic ‘getting in there’.
For Andrea Neumann, such recording and reflection allowed her “to have a vision, and
to realise it”, Biliana Voutchkova told me how “This I do all the time... that’s part of
my own way of learning [and]... developing”, and JD Zazie added that:
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