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Chapter 9
it’s like ‘Bwoar!’ [exploding sound ] [...] It’s not “Boom ... Pluck ... Oh! ...
Erm! ... Let’s see what the other guy is doing!”
Awareness, Clarity, Form and ‘The Moment’
Whether it was a group of 20 years or a first meeting, within each Field, trust was clearly
key to the success of ‘real’ improvisation. As Tristan Honsinger said, “If someone does
something odd then it will effect everything” and, as well as following group ‘directions’,
there was also a responsibility to be coherant, clear and aware, and to contribute musical
material that other performers could understand and make sense of.
Axel Dörner described how:
Like a composer, you write something, and what you’re writing after this
has to make sense out of what you wrote before. So I follow. I try to get a
meaning into something where, if I play a note, and the note after makes a
different meaning to the note I played before (and that’s also for sounds)...
one comes after the other.
It’s like composing moment-after-moment, and each time I have to see what
makes sense in the complete idea - how long something is in relation to what
happened before, which kind of structures could belong together, or would
work. The basic question is “What do I want to hear?”
In doing so, Dörner was active on several levels of awareness - in the present moment,
but simultaneously paying attention to global structural concerns, and seeing ‘the
moment’ in relation to what had already occurred and what he predicted might come.
Referencing composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Kugelgestalt der Zeit,14 he described
Time is changing in a way which the future and past and present time
become a certain kind of unit [that] you can move in. [...] I’m in the
moment, but I’m also in what is called Eternity. Both at the same time.
And it’s not a line... it’s like a [sphere]. [...] Many things go at the same
time [and] everything is included.
Many other similar variants of this approach existed, with musicians dividing their
attentions between structural/formal aspects, ‘the moment’, listening to themselves,
listening to the others, recalling/executing/extending materials and comparing current
situations to the past, and all of this occurred apparently simultaneously, or at least
Describing a spherical concept of time, Zimmermann’s Kugelgestalt der Zeit was previously referenced
in Alexander von Schlippenbach’s liner notes to the first Globe Unity Orchestra release [Schlippenbach,
1967], a group of which Dörner is now a member. Schlippenbach was a former student of Zimmerman
in Köln (see p. 42).