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Questionnaire: Ruth Barberan (2007)

November 2, 2010

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

I studied at the conservatory and later at jazz schools.
Basically I learnt what I don’t want to do: cut my wings, just imitate, repeat models. On the other hand, i have listened and played a lot of music that still feeds me and that I still enjoy. And I still play formal music.

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?

– 2 trumpets (one to play with water and saliva)
– a metal tin to make it vibrate with the trumpet bell and to get many       other vibrations with objects.
– Objects that vibrate.
– Objects that swing by their own, that I amplify.
– Contact microphones for the objects.
– Mixing board.
– Condenser microphone to amplify very litlle sounds of the trumpet.
The choice is based on experience, in the searching, the influences of the other musicians and the necessity of creating music with the minimum intervention by myself (in case of the objects).
My relationship with tecnology is bad. I am lazy with it.

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

1. Sense of listening: what sounds.
When i was small, I knew the piano index because my sister studied at a higher level than mine, and i remembered the scores when i heard her playing. But with Bartok, I couldn’t memorize, I had to read the score to know if I was playing well. Since then, I have been interested in what sounds strange to me.
2. Musical attitude: work with listening first, and all the basic things that are part of every kind of music (sound, timbre, dynamics, silence…)
personal and collective expression at the same time.
3. Artistic attitude: about creativity, research, permanent questioning.
4. Personal attitude: to value more the artistic quality than recognition, material benefit or fame.

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

1. Because, currently, it is the music that interests me and that I enjoy the most.
2. I understand it as a permanent search, personal and within a group. I am very interested in stable groups that get a common language and a group sound.

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

What is planned (although I wouldn’t say exactly planned) comes from individual or group work. It´s inevitable that while you’re practising, you get some concrete ideas, aquire experience, learn, construct your own language, find resources. These things that are positive, can be negative for spontaneity, and for improvisation in its purest sense, but I also think that it would be unfortunate and artistically damaging not to use them.
On the other hand, to keep this spontaneity, it´s necesary to be brave enough to do a bad concert, to play with risk and loss of capacity. And many times it´s very difficult to get it.

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?

Yes, i practise, but not in a regular form (I´m not in the regular audience in artistic activities (litterature, cinema, exhibitions, etc…)). I think everyone must do what they need when they need it in order to reach new situations.
Of course, when I improvise I use sounds that I’ve found alone or during a rehersal. I also search the language that I want to use with these sounds, what I want to do with them. That´s more important for me than how I create the sound.
I think that the real experimentation with sound is done during the rehersals or alone at home, but sometimes you can find something during a concert or a recording. In a gig, sound experimentation can be improvisation in the sense that we have to take decisions in real time because of the situation, the space, the other musicians…etc…if we want to make this improvisation real, we have to be able to risk and even to do a bad concert, as I said before.

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

It´s very subjective, of course, and it also depends on the way I feel at that moment. I have been able to verify this by listening to the same record many times; I don’t have the same opinion from one day to another.
The first thing I want to say about this (but I have no proof) is that if something is happening internally to the musician(s), that I may be able to have the same feeling; if I see that there’s some risk, if I can see that they are listening to the common sound. Or also if something surprises me. Sometimes, it´s a new sound or a new way to produce it. Sometimes, I enjoy this but not what the musician is doing with that sound. Sometimes, I’m surprised by what the musician is doing with sounds that I already know. Sometimes it’s both.

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

Yes, of course, that influences me, but still I can choose not to publish it, until the last moment, and this makes me feel even more free to risk than on stage, but unfortunately less than during a rehersal.
Apart from the way how I play (more or less risky), this influences me in the choice of what material I want to play. New material that has never been recorded and that I want to present.


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