Audrey Chen/Nate Wooley/Seamus Cater/Robert van Heumen > Structured improv research

In 2005, Seamus Cater (laptop/wacom tablet), Nate Wooley (trumpet) and Robert van Heumen (laptop/controllers) played together with Jack Wright (saxophone) at the Kraakgeluiden concert series. This collaboration was very ad-hoc, without preparation. A year later Nate returned, bringing Audrey Chen (cello/voice/analog synth) and Lionel Kaplan (trumpet) to play as Silo. The second set in this DNK concert was Nate, Audrey, Seamus and Robert. Again this was a completely improvised set.

Both concerts were succesfull, but the idea came up to spend more time together to develop some kind of structure to guide the improvisation.

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So we got into STEIM’s studio 1 from October 10 – 15, planning to present the initial results at a STEIM concert on Oct 12, and the final presentation at DNK on Monday Oct 15.
The constraints for this research were:

  • 3 acoustic intruments: Nate on trumpet, Audrey on cello & voice, Seamus on harmonica (yes: Seamus switched instruments!);
  • 1 electronic instrument (Robert on laptop), mainly sampling the acoustic instruments;
  • describing global structures in terms of soundworlds and transitions between them.

The final structures that were defined are:

  • Noise / high tones / point-to-pitch: starting with a more or less constant noisy texture, until Seamus would come in with these crazy high pitches from the harmonica – we would all join him there, until someone starts with injecting discrete short sounds – again followed by others, slowly transforming the short sounds to sustained pitches, ending in a romantic way ;)
  • Breathing layers: everyone in his own ‘breathing’ tempo playing textural sounds – trying not to pay attention to others wrt breath lengths – so these would sometimes coincide, but usually be independent of eachother; somewhere during this process more rythmical ‘breaths’ would emerge, building up to some kind of polyrythmical structure; going back to the original breaths, that would end it.

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