Questionnaire: Valerio Tricoli (2007)
1. Have you got any formal musical training, and what do you draw from it now?
No, I haven’t, except a couple of guitar lessons when I was 14 or something…
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?
That’s kind of a hard question, in fact I generally change my set-up every few weeks, and the set-up itself is always changing in relation to the room, the group and/or the situation in which I’m going to play. Anyway, I use analogue electronic instruments (KorgMs20, Revox and Teac tape machines, loudspeakers, microphones to catch sound to be “live processed” with the tape machines and effects, a mixer of course, which I consider and instrument as well). I play with this stuff because I wanted to play electronic music, a sort of live concrete music (if this makes any sense), and I am not a lot into playing live with a computer (I always found it lacking too much in the “physical/corporal” part of the process..). Then of course I definitely like a lot the dynamics/sound quality that can be achieved with analogue stuff. The only real problem is that all these instruments are kind of heavy to carry around…
4. Why are you involved in improvisation, and how do you perceive it?
So, let’s say that I am half involved in improvisation. In fact, I have never released an impro cd. My solo releases are electroacustic compositions – my last work, Metaprogramming from within the eye of the storm, for instance, took three years of compositional work, so it’s really far from any idea of improvisation, and 3/4HadBeenEliminated studio works combine improvisation – the raw material is improvised – with a LOT of post-production techniques, overdubs, and experiments with the studio itself. On the other hand I have rarely played concerts that weren’t totally improvised, and when I say “totally” I mean that many times I put myself in a situation of having a lack of control of my equipment – actually I achived the lack of control by setting it up in odd ways, or by playing in total darkness so that I can’t really see faders and knobs, or experimenting with found instruments or objects etc. So, and maybe I’m going back to question number 3, for me is totally necessary to experiment during gigs, I find it impossible and boring to follow a pre-arranged pattern or path, and all the tension and thrill of playing live music, for me, lies in the task of achieving something unexpected.
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?
I think that practising is really important, expecially for a band. But I feel that band practice should just lead to some sort of telepathic communication between the members, and not to the development of pre-arranged structures. Then, I practice alone with tape machines, to spread the “window of opportunities” of the instrument.
7. How do you evaluate an improvisation? What is it, according to you, that makes one improvisation better than another?
Wow, this is a question about “quality” in art, and it’s hard to answer. I feel that a gig is good when it has kicked my ass, aesthetically, or mentally, or ethically, or just physically. I generally find myself really bored during impro gigs, expecially here in Berlin. There are just a few musicians that I consider to be exploratory musicians. Many of them, who were brilliant once, have run out of ideas now. They should start listening to some music different from their own. A good gig has to be fresh. The so called impro-scene is really like a cemetery for me.