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Questionnaire: Dragos Tara (2008)

November 2, 2010

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

As a bass a player, I had some training in Jazz and Classical music, and had opportunities to perform many different kinds of music.
It mostly helped me to develop close physical contact with my intrument, even when I don’t directly use the conventional way of playing.
As a composer, I have a degree in composition and electroacoustics. My studies have been a moment where I could really focus my own language.
Think about it in different perspectives. The opportunities I had to experiment in electroacoustics were very inspiring.
But I truly believe that a musician can only be self-taught. Studies are mostly a great opportunity to meet poeple and exchange, but it’s still up to you…

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?

My double bass, with few preparations (as little as possible), and a computer (mostly with MAX/MSP). I try mostly to use few stuff, but that can be modulated in many different ways.
I am still thinking about a way of controlling the electronics through gestures (directly through my bass).

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

A permanent need to move, to take part in the research of new social relationships, as music is part of a culture that always has to be rebuilt.
I don’t want to deal with nostalgy and I believe this world deserves some changings.

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

To take part in music and dramatic performances where there’s not just “one author”, but a collective creation.
To create things that exist just at a certain moment and a certain time, as opposed to some commercial standards looking for reproducibility.

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

As you work on different projects with different people, you start to create your own general image of improvisation. This means that both are always mixed. You discover things on a road that you had already chosen.

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?

For projects that are based on a special ideas or a concept, I love to rehearse. But if it is really improvised, I hate it. Anyway, with time, as I told you, you make choices that guide your work and make you more prepared for concerts.
I feel the same about practising on my own. I practise my bass in a rather conventional, classical way, just to keep in touch with it.
Playing with electronics is always prepared for me, as I have to build my MAX/MSP patches, choose my interfaces.
I couldn’t really tell you how much room there is for actual sound experimentation, but I think this is more than ever necessary because of the increasing normalization that the musical business implies.

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

If it feels easy, fluent to play. If my image of the moment was clear, or just exciting… This is kind of confusing. Sorry, I don’t really know.

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

As an electroacoustic musician, I feel quite unsatisfied with using this medium only as memory, not using it for itself.
Recording is something very interesteing for me but reserved for special projects for tape music, electronics, and such…
As an improviser I feel quite unsatisfied with the idea of transforming a unique thing (point 4!) into a reproducible object.
This means I always try to record as little as possible, just when it is useful for a project (including the use as a demo).
I don’t think that recording influences my way of improvising. But playing without an audience, on the other hand, is very painful for me.


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