Neil Welch - December 8, 2013
Neil Welch and the 12 Moons Solo Project
On January 1st I began a year long solo project called 12 Moons, of which I’m now in the final month. This project documents my work as an improviser and artist on a daily basis. I release an unedited, single improvisation daily, along with a written description and an accompanying image. 12 Moons has become my most most challenging, eye opening, and fulfilling artistic experience. I began this project to have a daily account of my work, but also to come to terms with my ability and my artistic process.
A major goal of this project was to define in crystal clear terms for myself why I’ve chosen to focus so heavily on solo music, and more importantly how I go about working through it. Over a longer time scale I wanted to see what new artistic phases would emerge, how I would cope with lulls in my drive, the daily pressure to walk away with a finished piece, the struggles and triumphs of day to day life, and simply to better understand how the world shapes my music when I’m paying attention to it.
I’ve tried to dedicate myself fully to the 12 Moons project. In the months leading up to its start, I prepared myself to devote my year to this single body of work. I wake up each day with it on my mind and it never leaves. My recording process has included single takes, as well as one piece in which I recorded over 90 takes. I’ve spent as little as 10 minutes on an improvisation, to upwards of 6 hours. From picking up my horn to walking away with a finished product, the minimum time requirement is 1 hour, with the average time requirement of 2 to 2 ½ hours each day. My biggest challenges are: my ego, balancing my personal life with the project, finding creativity when my life state feels baren, maintaining calmness and a clear head under the weight of the project. My biggest successes are: the creation of new musical techniques, new musical terms, a body of recordings I feel confident and proud of, many compositional starts, the flat out truth that I always, always have time to practice.
For the session this week I’ve picked 5 improvisations from the 12 Moons project which I’ll re-examine on stage. I’ll discuss many of the themes, both personal and musical that have emerged for me. In the improvisations to follow, we will re-visit a semi-troden format of alternating solo/group pieces. For the solos, I ask that performers open themselves up to their life state on the day of the session, and then have you discuss it with us to open a window into your mind. The larger groups will then re-interpret this solo piece through a collective body trying to “empathize” with the solo performer, that is, put themselves in the shoes of the soloist.
The 12 Moons pieces I’ll explore this week are as follows!
Much love to all!