Roscoe Mitchell!!?!!- I am still trying to put into words what level of mind shattering sonic experience this was. It started with a bass recorder and a whole universe came from there. It felt like it was about the sounds inside the sounds.
What could the sounds inside the sounds mean?
There is a poise of delivery that can really make individual sounds have the appearance of a longer life in time. I say the appearance of, but in terms of perception and our minds it could really be a longer life. The mind gets closely in tune so that the delivered sound appears to sit in the consciousness longer than the time that it is really there. This effect (and I don't mean it like a cheap veneer)thoug, is not what I am referring to in Roscoe Mitchell's presentation last night.
This went deeper. It was as if he was describing a more naked place where that sort of poised delivery, the one that can really help us hear, might be arising from. Probably for many it might have been difficult to listen to. The initial sound palette would come across to many as screechy but if we relax and go inside of that, many other musical relations begin to unfold. These were clearly vibrations that could be generated just as the diatonic notes can generate from a fundamental tone.
The following day at a brief seminar I got to hear Roscoe Mitchell talk about music and some about the above mentioned music of the previous evening. He talked about his work early on, in the 1960s on getting away from the 12 note system. It wasn't not a matter of plain rebellion. He pointed out a certain point that he loves tonal music when he was answering a question from a student about whether there is value in music if you want to hear it that way.
Roscoe Mitchell is still interested in music- all facets of it. Since he has been involved in such a deep exploration of its possibilities for so many years he has so much striking wisdom to offer.
He mentioned many intriguing things that afternoon, here are a few...
A major component of music is silence and this offers a serious challenge; since silence is always perfect, it is a difficult proposition to come up with something that fits with that perfection. (I'm probably going to be meditating on that viewpoint for the rest of my life.)
Roscoe talked about the need and the existence of both creative musicians, and re-creative musicians. It left me in a more positive frame of mind because these days I am so frequently agitated by the seeming over emphasis of the recreative across all the arts these days.
Best of all he said that music functions best when it is out amongst people (that they are using its techniques) and he mentioned to try to make it exciting which is something that I think gets left out of presentations of work by a good deal of the artform's explorers these days.
Roscoe just turned 71. He's still out here with extremely vibrant contributions, real mind openers. The other two players in his trio also completely took me apart- James Fei, and William Winant.
Check them out.