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190
Chapter 9
from the inside, or from the outside in.
Authenticity, Honesty and the ‘Strong’ Individual
Having examined the multilayered awareness that constituted being ‘in the moment’,
the ‘subconscious’ decision-making that generated improvisation, and the importance
of the ‘Field’, the final characteristics central to many musicians’ appreciation of ‘real’
improvisation were those of ‘honesty’, ‘strength’ and authenticity - direct references to
the expressive function of contemporary Improvised Music.
For many musicians interested in ‘real’ improvising, the values asserted by Knauer and
Heffley still held true, with the maximum possible ‘honesty’ and emotional ‘nowness’
being sought, and such honesty and presence appeared to be of equal importance in
(Post-)Reductionist, Free Jazz-related and electronic musics.17
Accordingly, I argue that personal expression formed an essential part of most Improvised
Music-making - if not explicitly manifested in ‘screaming’,18 at the very least, being
expressed on the level of musicians’ choice of materials (and their relation to them) as
well as in the form of underlying social/political structures.19
One listener described this relationship, in the best case, as “strong”, “potent” and
“able to live on its own”, and Biliana Voutchkova summarised that, ideally:
The person that is behind the music has this authentic relationship to his
[sic] inside voice. [There are] no artificially added elements - acting in some
way, trying to be good, or showing something. [...] The language and the
outcome can be very different, but if I sense this behind it, then it’s done
for me, that’s the good.
The same was true for those with several voices, large or disparate repertoires of
(seemingly-unrelated) musical materials, and those who switched between improvisational
sub-styles, and, in this sense, Steve Heather’s genuine love of stadium rock meant that
17
See pp. 34 and 36 for Heffley and Knauer’s assertions. Whilst extravagant shows of emotion (or
‘screaming’) still remained in some Free Jazz-related areas, on the whole, today’s music was far less angry
and outwardly passionate. Honsinger’s quote about exploding (p. 179) also applied to this emotional
aspect.
18
The term ‘screaming’ is used in the sense of the explicitly emotional high-energy playing of first
generation Free Jazz musicians (see p. 29).
19
See p. 238 for more on social/political stances. Very few exceptions to this proposition existed,
Tristan Honsinger instead describing his music as a vehicle for acting, whereby, “It’s like poor theatre... a
parade in the village in which everyone takes part. And they have to do it. Whether they’re embarrassed
or not, because they have to belong to the village. [...] You don’t know how to dance, or you have no
theatre background, but... someone says to you, “You! Become a policeman.” [...] But in the fact that
everybody’s on the same level (maybe another person is a duck)... no-one knows what to do. [...] It’s a
kind of beginning of total amateurism.” Additionally, Hannes Lingens and JD Zazie were opposed to
the development of a ‘recognisable’ voice out of a fear of having to repeat themselves too much in front
of audiences who “expected” certain things from them (cf. David Diaz’s expectations, p. 187), however,
I would also argue that, in a way, this decision also represented something of an expression of identity
in itself.