What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

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What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

Postby karnsculpture on Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:13 am

http://io9.com/whats-going-on-inside-th ... 1444670143

Interesting article and responses. I sometimes think that Sylvian does not really improvise, he still creates boundaries (like a sandbox) for improv to happen in. I think of The Kilowatt Hour and wonder what he would do if Fennesz decided to start playing rhythmically, or aggressively, something of a juxtoposition to the existing layered background. Would DS get into it? In some ways I don't think The Kilowatt Hour were genuinely improvising, the mood seems very reflective and linear throughout, like being on anti-depressants no real ups and downs just a constant at the same sort of level - not unpleasant but nothing at all surprising.
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Re: What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

Postby inkinthewell on Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:35 am

When improvising, it appeared as though the "self-censorship" portions of the brain went quiet. The sensory perception areas of the brain and the areas linked to expression, however, both kicked into high gear. In fact, the patterns looked exceptionally similar to the MRI patterns also seen during REM sleep: the dreaming state.

Don't know if I agree with the above. I don't think I've ever heard an improvisation that's ever shocked me for being different from the musicians' usual language. It may surprise me when a musical idea comes out loud and clear albeit sketchy, or, where more than one musician are involved, when the resulting combination is incredibly compact, but it doesn't seem to me they ever escape their genre boundaries, which would mean there is some censorship going on.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - JL 1940-1980
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Re: What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

Postby karnsculpture on Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:45 am

Exactly.

I have a piece on video that gives me a real buzz. It's from the early days of YMO when they played the Greek Theatre in LA. At one point Sakamoto starts a synth solo over "1000 Knives" and the others follow his lead as he plays on and on and on taking things to an incredible peak. It looks unrehearsed as Akiko, Yukihiro and Hosono are caught on film giving each other looks, grinning, and then all three staring at Ryuichi who is ignoring them and is on a totally different planet. Yukihiro and Hosono both up the pace and start playing with much more bite before Sakamoto finally slows the pace down and starts to play the regular tune. It's incredible; an example of a spontaneous decision to improvise where the others on stage, skilled as they are, manage to follow his lead and keep up. I used to think Sakamoto might have been under the influence in that clip but as far as I know that isn't something he was into, and the playing is so detailed, so sharp and melodically sophisticated, and his face so serene and relaxed, it seems a bit like the description in the article.
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Re: What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

Postby baht habit on Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:36 am

Thanks for the interesting article. I recently attended a performance by pianist Herbie Hancock, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist James Genus and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. It was a 2 hour performance and within that time frame, 7 songs were performed. Hancock mentioned that what this lineup does is "destroy" his songs. Every song was twisted around and sometimes only fragments of recognizeable songs were touched upon. I didn't even recognize Speak Like A Child as they basically gave it a bare bones tribal treatment that was pure dissection.
This was not a 'jam band' where one member will improvise and be accompanied by the others. These jazz musicians were definitely stretching out and I must claim that what I witnessed was not musicians getting lost in some trance - everyone on that stage was improvising and so they remained fully alert in order to utilize the full capabilities of their ears and eyes.
The eye contact was imperative for unspoken communication - and since many of the pieces were played in odd time signatures, one could detect the apparent usage of certain body language to indicate to each other where they were feeling the downbeat. It was more than musical, it was absolutely magical.
Sylvian is unfortunately never going to reach that level of musical skill - he is a different type of animal. And so he has sought out a much different form of improv built upon a focus on a shared social accomplishment rather than technical agility. Many times he has expressed the interest in engaging in such a performance that is built solely upon improv but has not allowed himself to go for it with a full confidence. In my opinion, the Kilowatt Hour was marred by the aspects which were prepared prior to performance.
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Re: What's going on inside the brains of musicians while they im

Postby karnsculpture on Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:03 pm

What baht describes, that interaction on stage, is really important and it's what makes going to a concert a memorable experience. You hit the nail on the head there, the pre-prepared elements of The Kilowatt Hour; the video and pre-recorded elements probably restricted the performance.

However I am writing this having just experienced the performances through clips and fan recordings - it can't be the same as actually being there. I wish the finance would allow performances in more places although I imagine without very explicit warnings the GBP would buy tickets expecting a vocal show - he's never performed purely instrumental works in the US or UK has he? I'm not counting the 2 hour+ Shamans shows because although largely instrumental there were still at least 10 vocal numbers.
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