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Questionnaire: Thomas Ankersmit (2007)

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

No, I haven’t (with the exception of guitar lessons for a few weeks as a teenager). Musicians who did go to music schools often congratulate me on this, usually implying that it allows me to do my own thing more easily. I’m a little wary of the idea that not knowing something allows me to make better art, though. I guess I’ll never know what I missed out on.

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 basically play two separate instruments: alto saxophone and analogue modular synthesizers, and I use a computer for editing and sampling etc. Although I frequently use all three during a concert, I don’t really combine the acoustic and the electronic, or at least I don’t use one to process the other. The electronics didn’t come in as an extension of the saxophone. I was messing around with electronics before I’d ever held a saxophone.
I prefer analogue equipment over computers, not out of nostalgia (there’s actually very little 70’s synthesizer music I care for, the era my instruments are from) but because of the hands-on, unstable character of it, as well as the nature of the sound itself. A lot of what I do on the synthesizers (an EMS Synthi A and a Serge modular) involves some careful abuse of the machines, jamming bits of metal in the connectors, feeding modules back on themselves etc. You can bend analogue equipment like that without it simply breaking down. There’s very little conventional synthesis technique there, it’s mostly the sound of modules being used differently than intended. I use electromagnetic pickups and contact microphones and little preparations to introduce a kind of tactile, metallic element to the synthesizer, a way of articulating sounds by hitting or scraping something. No keyboard.
The physicality of acoustic instruments is also very dear to me, the fact that you can aim sound depending on your position in the room, rather than have sound pour out of two speakers in the corners, the pleasure of generating sound with your own breath and voice etc. I guess my relationship to the saxophone is a little unusual because I never wanted to play jazz, and I’ve never been able to. I suppose I came more from a noise/rock background, even with the saxophone. People like Tamio Shiraishi and the band Borbetomagus were important in demonstrating this really intense non-jazz side of the instrument before I took it up myself.

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

I’m not sure if that’s what I do. Rather than trying to reach something that’s unknown to me I tend to try to execute pretty specific ideas, a sound I’m imagining (but then I do usually end up with something rather different). I don’t think the music I make is necessarily more experimental than anything else. I’m very much interested in a kind of focussed sound-intensity. The balance between transparency and saturation, making sound elements move together as a whole, to the point where all the small elements become a kind of blur that’s still somehow energetic, either with a kind of internal motion or as a line that draws itself. I find the kind of sounds and structures I’m using most appealing, I like noise, rather than more orthodox, popular ways of playing music, but I don’t really know why.

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

I like the “in the moment” aspect of it, it unfolds while doing, and it’s probably the only way that I can be involved in music. I can’t read or write music, so I wouldn’t be able to play most other people’s music, and I just enjoy generating things in real time much more than composing detached from playing. It sort of by-passes conscious thought, one sound event seems to generate the next, and I often feel that I’m just following it along.
That said, only a part of what I do is improvisation. When playing solo, I often decide on a broad structure before the concert, and roughly what kind of sound material I’ll be using over the course of time. Sometimes I layer prerecorded saxophone sequences with live playing, so then there’s a clearly predefined element. I also use samples embedded in the synthesizer stuff, passing through signal processing modules, so that also introduces a kind of memory-bank where certain sounds can be called up while I’m doing something else at the same time.
I often use improvised sequences as the building blocks for electro-acoustic “composition”. It’s a way of letting unexpected things happen, of losing control to an extent, and then taking control of the material again afterwards by editing, juxtaposition, processing.

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

If I play together with others I don’t plan anything, but of course that doesn’t mean that “anything can happen”. When I play by myself I don’t really consider it improvisation, even when I do make up a set as I go along. It’s just that improvising by myself is still only my ideas and the instabilities of my instruments. I may execute things “spontaneously” but I might feel that I’ve been “planning” them for years.

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 rehearse certain things to be able to repeat them, but not “for” an improvisation. Instead of practicing, I just improvise, together or (mostly) alone. I generally start with something I’ve tried before, but frequently end up in something I couldn’t have predicted. Either because my instruments or my body or the acoustics of the room didn’t behave as I expected and led me somewhere else, or simply because another musician’s actions transform the meaning of what I’m doing. At the moment, I’m attempting to teach myself to play a new synthesizer, so I’m consciously listening for what I can do with it.

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

Generally, whether with my own stuff or with other music I hear, I’m always looking for a kind of intensity, a focus, and the absence of boredom. It might be easier for me to say when I think something is unsuccessful: flat, predictable, without flow or tension. The good moments are all the other moments. As an example, I heard Robin Hayward do an improvised concert with Diego Chamy sometime last year. It was a rather tense, uncomfortable situation, a very incongruent set of events where nobody knew who had what role in the music or what was keeping it “up”. I thought that was very beautiful.

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

I’ve never recorded any real-time music with the intention of having it published as far as I can remember, so I wouldn’t know. I’d say having an audience has a good influence on my playing because you have to stay with it, you can’t start over if the music falls apart in your hands. But that’s a different kind of pressure.

 

Questionnaire: Sharif Sehnaoui (2007)

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

I have had several musical trainings so to say but all where short-termed. The most consistent one for me was studying jazz in Paris. I dropped out of it relatively quickly to focus on free improvisation and an overall approach that leans more towards ‘sound’ than ‘music’ proper. Today I could say that I do not draw much from any of my musical trainings. At least not intentionally.

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?

The choice of the guitar as my main instrument is totally accidental. I was mainly interested in drums and piano before that but took up the guitar when I took pity on my sister’s guitar teacher who used to come over and often not finding her there at the given time. I told him to teach me a few songs and this just went on.
Later on moving out of my country to live in a small apartment it was much easier to have an acoustic guitar to practice than any other instrument. I never really liked the instrument and free improvisation was a clear way for me to move it out of its regular use. Most of my playing is done with objects and tools to generate unorthodox sounds through extended and prepared techniques.
I play both electric and acoustic (folk guitars) but always diverting them from their primary function.
There a few notable exceptions to this of course.

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

The world and our perceptions are in perpetual movement and so should be music and arts in general.

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

Improvisation struck me as a strong experience both for the player and the listener, far from offering a set product, it unfolds a clear questioning path. In the blind consumer society we live in I hold it important to offer other alternatives and open new angles of perception. Improvisation deals with a highly subjective individual time, exposing “difference” as the main catalyst for creativity, diving deep within the artists’ own self, putting him constantly on the edge of his very existence. The experience is strong and always highly charged with emotion. Yet it simultaneously promotes dialogue.
Difference, but also how we can work together with it are for me some of the most important issues of modern society.

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

I wouldn’t use the word planning, rather repetition. Repetition is impossible to avoid as we are finite beings who have our limits and necessarily start repeating ourselves at some point. Yet if we consider the music of an improviser on a longer timescale we notice that it keeps on moving, it necessarily does so because of the interaction with other musicians resulting in new directions and different perceptions of the same material in various contexts.
So yes for me there is some repetition and you might come to like it, still it will undoubtedly break.
As for planning proper it means we are moving out of improvised music in my view. Not totally, depending on the amount of pre-decided material but it’s a clear tendency.

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?

There is solo practicing where indeed you are both trying to master a specific type of sound, or playing, or technique. But also the will to try something else, to elaborate on some ideas that you would not in another context.
There is group practice where the main purpose would be to understand and put in memory the various sound worlds of the people you are working with.
Some might argue that this reduces the spontaneity of the improvisation as you are no longer surprised by the other. Yet on another level I believe it enhances it because by knowing your partners well you are able to react much faster and more efficiently to any idea that is put forth. This creates some of the most powerful music in my view.

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

It is almost impossible not to produce qualitative judgments around the music you hear yet it is something I actively try to avoid. Hence I will not directly answer the question.
I tend to think there is no improvisation better than another. Each one is different, and has a value of its own. Above that comes our subjectivity that allows us to apprehend and appreciate music in a specific time and place and conditions that are both internal and external. There are so many different qualities that could be considered, and it is in part what makes this music interesting to me, so many ways, so many levels of understanding and perceptions are possible

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

Every context has an influence on me. If I am playing in a small room or in a concert hall, if the audience is near or far, if we have complete silence or not, if we are outdoors, if we are in a studio. Each of these situations have an impact on myself and on the music. A recording session is also a specific context where the time is set and the musicians have a implicit agreement around the purpose of the gathering.
Yet if the question is about having a different idea of the music simply because it is being recorded, then the answer would be no, I do not play for future listening but always for the time/duration within which the sound is being generated.

 

Questionnaire: Ruth Barberan (2007)

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.

 

Questionnaire: Robin Hayward (2007)

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

Yes, I studied classical music, which it’s well known can be a hindrance to improvising. When I first started improvising I think it was a hindrance, but this was nearly 20 years ago. Now I use the training occasionally to play a normal note in the midst of mainly noise-based improvising, and the aural training I received helps me judge the interval I’ll play if I play a pitch when someone else is playing one too.
Outside of improvising I use the training quite a bit, as I also play and write contemporary composed music and am involved in exploring tuning systems, which mean being able to play normal tones on the instrument.

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 play tuba, without any electronics though the way I play it often sounds very electronic. A love-hate relationship, as I actually have considerable problems with it when it’s played normally. Maybe this was the reason I ended up playing it the way I do. At 10 years old I was too young to know better when I took it up – I wanted to play trumpet and they put me on tuba.
I like the physicality of acoustic instruments. Maybe this is the reason I’ve mainly avoided electronics so far.

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

This is very hard to answer, as I’m not sure it’s really rational. Perhaps it’s just that I enjoy exploring and discovering – curiosity, not knowing what’s round the corner. But why this should be in music rather than anything else I really have no idea.

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

I like the fact that it questions and breaks down the classical hierarchy of composer-performer-listener. It’s a very social way of making music. And I like the direct contact with the sound, and the immediacy of inventing music while I’m playing it. Plus the challenge of trying to make it work with other people.

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

I certainly find it necessary to reflect on the music, which I suppose is a kind of planning. Occasionally if I’m finding the music too routined I deliberately do something that doesn’t obviously fit in in order to throw the music into a different direction, or even deliberately lose technical control and then work with whatever the instrument throws up. But mostly it’s a question of listening both to what’s going on and playing when I hear something I want to contribute. Which implies knowing the instrument, controlling the sounds etc – things that would come under the category of planning.

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 don’t practise for a particular improvisation. I do rehearse with other musicians, but this has to do with developing and clarifying what we’re doing, rather than preparing for a specific improvisation. Sometimes we practise exercises for improvisation, usually arising from having observed that something’s happening by default rather than because we want it to. The exercises are intended to make us more aware of whatever it is and learn strategies of how to avoid it. Yes, I do mostly use sounds that I have control over, which implies having tried them out and practised them. But I try to avoid simply playing repertoire – the challenge is to use the sounds so they make musical sense, though it’s not always easy to say why a sound seems to make sense in one context and not in another – it’s necessary to work very empirically. There are definitely rules, though it’s often hard to say what they are. It’s mainly just a question of remaining sensitive to the present moment and intuiting what it seems to imply.

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

I suppose I have a set of criteria, some quite conventional: did the form work, were things too predictable etc. One sign of a successful improvisation is often that the music seemed to play itself, without any effort. But it’s often quite hard to say why one improvisation worked and another one didn’t.

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

It can help focus things. Actually I haven’t recorded that much improvised music though.

 

Questionnaire: Róbert Rózsa (2007)

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

I don’t have any formal musical training.

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 have always been fascinated by the sound and music of cartoons, and then there’s early electronic and freely improvised music. Since I don’t play any “classical” instrument, I had to come up with my own, “non-classical”, different instrument. Old analogue synths, various effects and processors, sounding toys, an unusual and different use of turntables or cassette players, those were the sounds which i sought out. In the beginning I was using my own hi-fi components, tapes, vynils, microphones, feedback effects. Soon after that I discovered no-input mixing and that is the instrument I’m using today, and besides that I also use amplified objects, a toy-synthesizer, mini discs, etc.

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

I’m attracted to the freedom of creating, the phenomenon of  “liberated sound”, the unusual creation and organization of it – the freedom of  being playful in the name of music.

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

I think that improvisation is the most honest, the most interesting, and also the most unpredictable way of music-making, which is in itself a great challenge. Improvisation is a spontaneous game without an end in which everyone makes their own rules; music liberated from all the constraints of genre, style, school, any limitations, in one word: openness. It is about searching and making sense out of things through creation and during the creation itself; music that exists and emerges for its own sake, and I think that it can be said that everyone is involved in its creation, because the listener too, while listening, is involved (more so than in any other case) in its shaping. These are the reasons why I’m very interested in and attracted to improvisation.

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

Spontaneous, or free musical improvisation is the highest level of finding the sense and the possibilities of freedom in sound, of its spontaneous creation, shaping and organization. Planning in improvisation is a way to give it directions, some previously constructed form or to facilitate a certain mode of communication between players, which is more than a useful element in playing, especially if it is about a larger group of players.

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?

Practising in the classical sense does not exist, especially any kind of  training, because then it is not improvisation. But one should play as much as they can, and work on discovering and expanding their sonic possibilities, ways of expression. So, trying out, yes. Using already “tried out” sounds as well. And, the new and the unknown should always be the imperative of improvisation, because, to experiment and to search for new possibilities is something is possible and necessary.

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

Good or bad improvisation? And the categorization, the evaluation. This thing doesn’t seem simple at all to me, so every judgment is actually subjective, because it’s most of all about personal perception and impression, sensitivity. I’d say that I like good improvised music only. To me it’s the one that stimulates my imagination and marvels, or maybe teases. I like the improvisation in which I recognize the curiousness. I also like the fact that it is unrepeatable. Then there’s skillfulness, virtuosity or imaginativeness, unpredictability, the extremes in music, and silence, everything and anything can make an improvisation good or better than some other.

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

The consciousness exists, indeed. In my case, this “consciousness” does not hinder my playing, I’d rather say that it helps concentrating better and being more attentive, and a kind of a never predictable relaxing for the sake of creative liberation.

 

Questionnaire: Reuben Radding (2007)

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

I came to New York in 1988 as a rock musician and quickly became disenchanted enough to go take composition lessons. Later I studied contrabass with Mark Dresser for a few years. I do draw on my training, all the time, but I also had been a musician for a long time before. I grew up in a very creative community of like-minded musicians in Washington, DC., and I learned vast amounts about making music, recording, and touring from them.

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 main bass is a 100 year-old no-name Hungarian. It’s a dark reddish brown, and a dark sound as well. It’s a little big for me, but I’m addicted to its tone. To be a bassist you have to really be in love with the whole thing of it, carrying it, the difficulties of it. Strangers on the street will see you lugging this monster around and say “I’ll bet you wish you played the flute,” but we really don’t. There is a special feeling of power playing bass in an ensemble. You have a great affect on how everyone else sounds.

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

I used to resist the word “experimental,” because it seemed to imply that what we do isn’t intentional or is only about the process, rather than the product. Nowadays I very much embrace the word “experimental,” for many of the same reasons that I previously distrusted it.

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

As a music-maker, and as a listener, the stuff that really feels alive to me is usually improvised. I first experienced group improvisation as a songwriting tool in my youth (rock bands), and it always felt to me like the songs we made from our improvisations were inferior to the jams themselves. There is something to me about being in the moment, to be creating, rather than merely performing.

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

All improvisers have our bags of tricks we rely on and sometimes we lean on those, sometimes not. Hopefully not. I used to be more interested in devising strategies and alternative scores, graphic or text-based, to fuel improvisations, but I think this has had more to do with the desire to have a music I could call “my music” than anything else. Ego stuff. I may not be 100% finished with composition, but hopefully not for purposes of careerism. It’s hard not to be frustrated with all the support out there for new composition, while improvisation receives nothing, but it doesn’t make me run to the pen. I’d much rather play a bad improvisation than a bad composition any time.

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 practice technique on my instrument, and since I make my living as a freelance bassist, I usually am practicing music I’ll be playing that week for gigs, but I don’t generally rehearse improvisations. I used to worry about repeating sounds and ideas in my improvisations, but less now that I’ve come to realize how valid it is, or perhaps how little it matters.

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

A difficult question! No one knows how to decide to make a good improvised piece of music, and what that would consist of, but most will agree when they’ve heard or taken part in one. It seems to have a lot to do with form and freshness.

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

I don’t think this affects my playing much at all. I began recording at the very beginning of being a musician and almost 30 years later it is what it is.

 

Questionnaire: Michel Doneda (2007)

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

No I haven’t, I am a self-taught musician. I have been working with the saxophone in my own way from the beginning until now.

2. What kind of equipment/instrument do you use, and what is you relationship towards it?

I have a normal soprano sax. I work within  its “limits”. But the limits are not in the instrument. So I will have to work all my life, I’m afraid. 🙂

What do you think lies behind your choice of the equipment/instrument?

The breathing, and the sounds that open my body and my mind. I am more interested in this actual experience, and the ways of sharing it, than in musical forms.

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

I prefer experience to experimentation. I think this is what is specific about the improvisational process. I am talking about non-idiomatic improvisation. Improvisation means that the connection between you and your instrument is unmediated, and also, that the connection between players, between you and the audience, with the room where you are playing, is mediated by the music. It also means that you have the responsibility, here and now, for what you are playing/doing.

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

Maybe because sounds are more important for me than music. I remember the first sound I played. I am always at this level. Improvisation is movement, and because of that I’ve met so many artists, and been to so many countries. Also, this is an individual process in a collective approach. No hierarchy! I trust individual relationships more than objects and music is an object to me. And then there are reasons for this involvement that I will never know, maybe they just have to do with luck?

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

I think that the process of improvising is somewhere in between planning and spontaneity. I feel alive in this movement between the two opposite qualities. The balance between these two positions is unstable, fragile, and we can never be sure of who and where we exactly are during an improvisation, so we have to try again and again. But it seems that there is always a one-time, unique thing happening. Former experience is both helpful and meaningless at the same time because of that.

6. Do you “practise” for an improvisation, and what are your general thoughts on the idea of “practising” for improvisation?

Never and all the time. I am living with this process in me. And when you play a brass instrument there are also some technical aspects you have to practice. When I start an improvisation I have nothing in my head. I try to be there and concentrate as much as I can.

When you improvise, do you use sounds that you’ve already “tried out”, and how much room is there for actual sound experimentation?

Yes, my memory is always in function, but it is not because I decide so, I would prefer to be able to be like a “blank page” but this absolute and abstract idea is impossible. Also there are mechanisms employed in the playing which are deeply anchored in my body. But I try to have a fresh listening-place. And I follow the sounds in the space. I always feel refreshed by the activity of listening. Sometimes of course I discover a sound which I can never get back at.

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

I don’t really care about good or bad. I think that each improvisation is a unique, one-off thing and in this way it cannot be something else. Of course I experience different feelings but I try to accept them as they are. Maybe my concept is too close to real life.

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

No and yes. Because every situation happens for the first and the last time. So I know this session is recorded and I forget about it. Also, most of the time I don’t decide to make a record before the actual recording so it is impossible for me to say: I play for the record. I should have to talk about every record of improvisation I’ve made. Of course it is a small part compared to all the music which disappears in the air.