Re: improvising

Subject: Re: improvising
From: James Bailey (
Date: Thu Mar 17 2005 - 10:10:12 EST

> i've recently started experimenting with using my laptop as a live
> instrument, totally improvising, with no prepared sessions or clips or
> what have you.

Hi Damian,

Welcome to the list, and to improv. Fun, ain't it? (both of them).

> this means i can play alongside 'real' musicians in a free improv
> environment and communicate with them musically in real time, which i'm
> finding is an amazing experience, far better than i'd ever thought
> possible with a computer.

It's sometimes called "flying by the seat of your pants," and can be both
frightening and exhilarating, often at the same time.

> problem (or not?) is that i have little or no background for comparison
> with what i'm doing. i'm fumbling about in the dark, which is great fun,
> but i'm wondering whether i'm covering ground other people have explored
> already.

Everybody engaged in free improvisation is doing the same, it's the nature
of the beast. Even if you *are* covering pre-trodden ground, it will still
be different (you can never step in the same stream twice).

Computers have come a long way in the last few years as regards their live
performance capabilities. I'm not sure what you are using, but there are
plenty of "soft"-synths available with incredible capabilities. I also
can't tell where you're located, but if it's anywhere near Toronto, go to
the Ambient Ping on March 30th, at the Hacienda to see what the Canadian
Electronic Ensemble are doing these days (they've been around for almost
35 years). Now they are almost exclusively laptop based. Check out for lists of events. It's a weekly series of live
ambient/experimental music, and many of the participants use laptops. Not
me, though, I'm still an analogue junkie, and by that I mean that most of
my gear *is* junk. ;-)

James Bailey
host: Electric Storm / A Missing Sense
CKLN-FM 88.1 Toronto

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