Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

[Some members of] Speak - September 12th


Rethinking Form (Luke)

I think of the “dramatic arc” as a two-dimensional visual representation of the emotional trajectory of a piece of art as it’s experienced in real time, something akin to what a waveform looks like in Logic Pro. 

It’s a shape that is comprised of and sculpted by infinitely complex series of tension and resolution occurring at multiple levels of abstraction. The four of us have been playing together for several years and it feels like a lot of our improvisations and compositions have become crystalized in a pseudo-sonata type canon, with a statement, development and conclusion. Visually, most of our music could be represented by a medium-sized hump, followed by a lull, followed by a large hump. While all of the stuff that substantiates this form is radically different, the dramatic arc has remained similar at the most simplified level. Looking at the progression of classical music into the post-sonata era and beyond I’ve learned that alternative forms can be equally or more expressive than the ones that have been internalized over time. We have begun reconsidering the linear nature of our forms and exploring multi-dimsensional approaches. For things that are not played out in real time, like looking at a painting, the dramatic arc is created by the heightening of emotions and opening of perception as more information from the painting is being absorbed by the viewer. With this session in mind and as we begin refreshing our approach to create new material for Speak, we will be experimenting with alternative forms.

About the Piece (Aaron)

We will perform an improvisation with a pre-discussed structure. An additional person (called “Beppé” for now) will improvise along with us, but he/she/it will be physically removed from the performance space and thus unable to interact with us. In this setting, he/she/it is a completely independent voice. The piece will concern our ability as a group to deal and interact with Beppé’s contribution.

To me, some of the most gratifying and challenging experiences in free improvisation occur when I am faced with music that I do not immediately recognize or comprehend. In these moments, I find I am most absorbed and attentive to this musical “world” that has been created spontaneously. I experience similar feelings of focus when I am in a new place or when conversing with strangers. During free improvisation, these moments also test the limits of my musical fluency, for they often involve the exchange of “language” or musical ideas with which I am not familiar. While it is a temptation to fall back on known and comfortable ways of playing, doing so often gives me a sensation similar to that of a bunch of people talking AT each other rather than attempting to understand or communicate. Musically, this often results in a performance that lacks direction. In contrast, the music is free to move where it pleases when the performers are listening and attempting to react to what they hear.


The Approach (Andrew)


When a group of individuals set out into unfamiliar musical territory, it is common for them to rely on musical practices that have been established prior to the performance.  However, employing any preconceived musical device threatens musical development within a freely-improvised setting, in that it prevents the performer from playing in a fully reactionary manner.  I would even conjecture that our own use of pre-formed musical materials has given rise to the well-worn forms and structures that occur so regularly within our music. That being said, these types of decisions are often warranted within the framework of our compositions, as the improvisational sections in each piece typically serve to connect one concrete section to another.  Perhaps as a result of these compositional pressures, we frequently deploy certain types of familiar motives because we are certain that they will get us from point A to point B.

For this particular piece, we are going to be dwelling in musical areas that make us uncomfortable on an individual level, and the objective will be to become as immersed in performance as possible without succumbing to the temptation of learned tactics.  The improvisation does not feature our “signature” horizontal narrative and does not serve any sort of transitional function within a larger work.  Instead, the improvisation in this piece can be described as a fluid element that moves within a predetermined structural hierarchy that is both vertical and cyclic in nature.  Because the architecture of the piece is immersive in itself, we hope to be to able to unite ourselves with the creative act in real time; the subservience of our own will to the piece is paramount.  We will attempt to remove our expectations (even though the full removal of human will/expectation from a performance is impossible) of how the piece will unfold, and we will try to allow the piece to simply exist as a stand-alone musical environment.  As a reversal of our normal roles, we are to function within the improvisational domain, rather than bending it to serve our compositional  purposes.


like a boat passing through a wave.

   a disturbance, for sure

        .not so much to throw you off course // //  //    /

move with the contour.  same trajectory.  different path.

on the surface, we understand its nature and its form

however, upon close inspection:

movement.  function.  expectation.







  i m p r o v i s a t i o n


        wrong notes


              assorted meat

nut medley

cinccione de merde

———————————————————–forget what you know.start anew.use what you know.start anew.

learn.start anew.  repeat steps 5 through 800.  see pictures for detailed directions.or just ask clip.

do you know?start aknew.