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Questionnaire: Greg Kelley (2007)

November 2, 2010

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

I studied classical music at Peabody Conservatory. Any kind of intense period of intimacy, study and discipline with an instrument and music in general is bound to have a lasting impression. In one way or another, I’m sure most of what I do now draws from that experience.

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?

I use a trumpet and my relationship with it is a love/hate relationship. The choice of trumpet was the choice of a 10 year old who knew nothing about music, thus almost arbitrary. 23 years later I’ve figured out a few things about it, its possibilities, limitations, moods, attitudes, reluctancies – it shapes how I think about music and I shape how it thinks about music. Sometimes we disagree. Art is compromise.

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

Experimental music seems to be the only music that is able to encapsulate all of my various influences, phobias, neuroses… It’s an open frame work with which I can add conceptual limitations to my own inherent limitations and hopefully open up some unknown door for my mind. It is also accepting of both Fleetwood Mac and Schimpfluch.

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

[see above]

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

I strive for transparency.

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?

When I practice my goal is simply to keep myself in shape. I don’t usually practice extended techniques except those which utilize muscles that are not used in a more traditional warm up. When improvising, I try not to think about “new” sounds or “practiced” sounds but about “music”.

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

It can be analysed like any music – Does it make sense? Does it engage the mind (and spirit)? Why?

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

Without the novelty and theater of live performance, a piece of recording must be able to hold up to scrutiny – be careful! A recording also allows for a kind of environment and sometimes a kind of sound that simply does not carry or work in a live context. I try to exploit these differences on some occasions and on ignore them on others, though ignoring them on playback is difficult. I might hit delete.


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