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Questionnaire: Cor Fuhler (2007)

November 2, 2010

1. Have you got any formal musical training, and what do you draw from it now?

There was music all around in my family (guitars, accordeons, trumpets, violins) so there was a very natural way of starting to play, (as you might expect from a family with a Sinti background). But I got frustrated with my technique and went to the conservatorium in Amsterdam to study piano – improvised music. And I did trumpet as a second instrument. Graduated in ’89.
It was good to be able to practise on different grand pianos and I met some good musicians I still play with today (Tobias Delius for example). I had a lot of time to listen to various musics without having to worry about money. And I am thankfull for that. But for the rest, most things I learned outside of school. After that I also studied gamelan (siter and rebab mainly), which was great because it’s so different to the western sense of time.

2. What kind of equipment/instrument do you use, and what is you relationship towards it? What do you think lies behind your choice of the equipment/instrument?

Today I focus on 3 things: — piano, — analogue electronics, –the keyolin.
The piano I play as a string instrument. Lot’s of inside stuff, it is something I have always done ever since I was a little kid. The piano is like a safe haven for me. I just spend so much time with it (you know, like 7 hours a day for some years). Like going for a walk in the forest.
For electronics I mostly use the EMS Synthi AKS + various homebuild objects to control it. I tried some other Synths but this one works best for me. It’s like skiing down a steep unknown hill.
The keyolin is a bowed string instrument played with a mechanical keyboard (so an acoustic instrument). I mostly play it for myself, very melodic oriental stuff mainly, back to basics.
I tried to play computer but I just couldn’t build any relationship with it. I need something physical.

3. What is it that attracts you towards musical experimentation?

Well, in order to find the things you have in your head, you have to try things at home. Mostly there is no shop to buy whatever you need, so you have to make your own stuff. For the rest, to keep fresh etc, I spend a bit of time every day just trying things, fiddeling around, hoping to stumble onto something.

4. Why are you involved in improvisation, and how do you perceive it?

I would reverse this question, why isn’t everybody involved in improvisation? It is the most natural way to make music.
One learnes to talk first and then read, not the other way around.
I think we asociate “the written” with something “true”, and the oral tradition as something random and less valuable. Which is very wrong I think.

5. How do you perceive the relation between planning and spontaneity in improvisation?

As an inevitable mariage. You have your vocabulary, but you make new sentences with it every time. Sometimes you find new words but mostly it is the people you play with that change the meaning of what you are playing. So you adjust/react.

6. Do you “practise” for an improvisation, and what are your general thoughts on the idea of “practising” for improvisation?
When you improvise, do you use sounds that you’ve already “tried out”, and how much room is there for actual sound experimentation?

Sometimes I do a bit of playing as practise, especially when I haven’t played a certain set-up for a while. Although it’s more checking the equipment. But mostly I don’t practise fysicaly anymore. It’s more thinking about it.
On the other hand, for a few years me and some Amsterdam people (Eric Boeren, Wilbert de Joode, Joost Buis etc.) used to play every week in front of an audience. It was a very good thing to do. After that me and some people (Anne LaBerge etc.) set up the Kraakgeluiden in Amsterdam, because there was no place for electronic music and we all needed to play with each other to improve our playing and to get ideas etc. We did that weekly for about 2 years. That was very important.

7. How do you evaluate an improvisation? What is it, according to you, that makes one improvisation better than another?

No special rules there. Although with improv I tend to accept (and even like) a bit of noodling more then with composed music.

8. When you are recording for a release, does the awareness of being recorded influence your playing, and in what way?

Yes it does a bit. You just know you have only a limited amount of time etc. It gives more pressure. That’s why I created a situation at home where I can record and not worry about time or money.


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