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Chapter 11
This is the possibility for people to listen to it who are not able to come
to the concert. [...] [In general] the concert is more important than the
CD. But the CD gives people who never would have the possibility,
a possibility to listen to it. Somebody living in the countryside
somewhere, for example.13
2. To get gigs (particularly in the international/festival circuit) and to exchange with
colleagues. As Chris Heenan put it, this was also entirely practical:
CDs travel... they’re business cards... postcards that are getting out
to the world and show what you’re doing.14
3. In the case of studio or home recording, to create music with an intimacy that
might never be produced in front of an audience. As Biliana Voutchkova explained,
herself long opposed to recording Improvised Music for the same reasons as
This practice of just being completely alone, no people, nobody there,
no reason to play except our own necessity, not preparing for anything
- just sitting and playing, and the record running... somehow became
precious to me. [...] This music would never appear in a concert setting
because it’s a quality that we don’t get when there’s other people
and you’re performing. [...] There is no element of even recognising
anything else besides our own selves and our own music-making in the
moment. And so... somehow, I realised, that would never be heard by
anybody unless we release a record... there is a quality that it carries
that is not available live.
To these ends, and except in very rare cases (when the ‘musical’ outcome was deemed
suitably successful), musicians sought not to release the ‘warts and all’ concert recordings
used for documentation, but instead, published focussed and distilled recordings that
showcased the best of their work. Such musicians aspired to create ‘working’ musical
outcomes that would stand repeated listening, and used this opportunity to propose
‘model’ or ‘best case’ examples of their artistic intention - in the process, as Klaus
Kürvers put it, producing an “everlasting work of art [Kunstwerk ]”.
It is also important to remember that without recorded music almost none of these musicians would
have ended up doing what they’re doing themselves (see Chapter 7). Many younger musicians who had
moved to Berlin from further afield had also already heard CDs of Berlin improvisers such as Burkhard
Beins, Andrea Neumann and Axel Dörner.
Jan Roder added, “I think the recordings are actually a pragmatical thing. For myself, I wouldn’t
have the need to record anything of it actually... [but] if you have a project and you want to play with
it, it’s actually very hard to play now [without a recording]”. Also telling, was that musicians rarely
purchased each others’ recordings, but more often than not simply exchanged them.
Voutchkova added, “For many years I didn’t want to put anything on record because I find the live
experience so strong that I feel that inevitably by putting it on record you take away part of it.”