sounding out scotland – north west coast 2017

19 10 2017

 

 

A visit to Scotland was long due. And this is my favourite area. The trip took us from north west coast sea lines through wild moors and lochs to the very northern point. This post however will focus on a specific section of the western coastline, following the path of the steam train – the jacobites.

The first stop was in Arisaig. A large church towering above the town with a view – tucked between green suburbs and a road out to the sea front.
The very high ceiling and wide open space inside the church made a strong impression and it was like stepping out into space. The slow sound inside was indeed very stilling. A single bell marks a warm welcome and the improvisation flows.
When giving tracks titles, one in particular reminded me of an experience i had nearby meditating on the rocks overlooking the sea. so i chose an image i took that day of a view over to Skye with the sun setting over the calm water.

In the harbour town of Mallaig, i found a shelter from the day for a short exploration of this small church on the edge of town. It was like stepping into the 70’s. Both amusing and welcoming, i felt at home in the cosy carpeted warmth. And nudged into motion by the nearby steam train parked at the station and some building works, i let the saxophone sound out this clear close space.

The next stop was the church at Morar. The place looked cosy, but the vibe of the place was not quite right and the space was not responding. I played for a while but could not get into it, and the sax felt raw. So i did not stay for meditation and instead moved on to a more welcoming location.

For contrast, i returned to Arisaig and bathed in that grand space. After a sweet meditation, i revisited the acoustics. A different day, a different light and still the wonderful immersive stillness was very inspiring.

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first bell
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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forest of peaks
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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silent silver sea
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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open skies
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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a gentle descent
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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interlude
2.1 hochiku shakuhachi, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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steamline
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
mallaig church

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white orbs and billows
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
mallaig church

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contrary measures
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
morar church

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counter currents
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
morar church

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slow rise
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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a raft in the other shore
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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mixed feelings
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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dovecote tunnel [ged barry and hervé perez]

2 10 2017

following on our exploration of a wet and drippy thor’s cave, we continued down the valley onto another of my favourite spots. i must say playing music in a tunnel is a bit weird, but this place has got the most amazing resonance. with a very strong character and pronounced resonant frequency, this tunnel will bend notes and blend overtones in the most surprising way.

expect beatings, saturating space and long tones…

 

this recording is the document of their very first encounter as a duo with the special acoustics of the tunnel.
01 august 2017

ged barry – tenor saxophone
hervé perez – alto saxophone

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full audio





thor’s cave [ged barry and hervé perez]

16 09 2017

flashes of lightning

amongst the crashes and flashes of a raging storm, and in torrential rain, the duo was born as ged barry and hervé perez arrived at thor’s cave with saxes.
this recording is the document of their very first encounter as a duo with the special acoustics of the cave.
01 august 2017

ged barry – tenor saxophone
hervé perez – alto saxophone

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full audio





sounding out north yorkshire moors

30 06 2017

 

The first stop for this trip was Lastingham. A beautiful village with a splendid church, opening onto the North Yorkshire moors.

The exploration of this church started with the usual meditation: A timely break from the summer heat, enjoying the fresh and quiet space. The meditation was both gentle and strong. Constructive.

From the first notes, the space reveals its understated richness. the dome and arches gently roll the sound into a perfect resonating sustain. never overwhelming, always enriching each phrase, inspiring pastoral calm and devotional entrain with a certain degree of adventurous reverence. ’tis just poetry for the jazzer’s ears.

Lost in sound and in rapture of the moment, i spend over an hour improvising along the accidental local birds, the punctuation of quarterly bells and the whispers of stones who have lived long.

 

After some time along the coast, drawing inspiration from the tides and the sea breeze, the journey continues onto another location i had visited a long time ago. Here also, it is this first time i connect to this place with the alto saxophone, and the latest addition to my panoply of instruments, some home made shakuhachi.

Lady Chapel is in a wonderful remote location overlooking the valley. Tucked in the trees and greenery, it is an intensely quiet place. Always open and welcoming, the remoteness of the place, it’s short reverb time, seem to inspire more intense playing. Something like the spirit of gospel, in the tradition of John Coltrane’s stream, a breathless flow of spirited harmony.

What i mean is that with no less reverence to the place, here i feel i can experiment more and move away from a traditional harmonic approach. A perfect opportunity to try out structural playing. Merging symmetrical harmonic shapes which flow into a self-generating narrative, always moving, always morphing.

For the last few minutes, i enjoy another moment of suspended quiet. An opportunity to try out some shakuhachi i made, gradually tweaking and tuning the bamboo until i find the right balance. I seem to be close now, although the instruments respond differently outdoors than at home.

Here, the 2.85 feels a little rough, and some of the notes catch a little. However, both the latter and the smaller 2.1 are sounding pretty good. And some phrases, listening back to the recordings, sound like the real thing. On one track, i even venture some multiphonics and high overtones – which are quite difficult to hold on the shakuhachi. Little by little, and every time i record something, i feel i made a little progress. It is difficult to put the saxophone down at times, but with more practice and more dedication on carrying the shaks, i probably could come up with some interesting exploration of natural acoustics in the near future.

In the meantime, you will find below tracks recorded in the two places described above. I hope you enjoy listening to those documents, as much as i enjoyed listening to the stories of the places i visit.

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topography of moor lands
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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dome and arches
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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summer sun on the moors
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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refuge in the coolness of the crypt
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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stellar scalene
alto saxophone, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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acute pastoralis
alto saxophone, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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coastal path
2.85 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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coming tide
2.85 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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returning
2.1 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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Sounding Out returns to the wintry North

26 02 2017

Traveling to a short retreat in a secluded and wild area in the North of England, i stopped at a wonderful site i had visited before. Christ the Consoler church in Newby is quite a unique space of impressive presence. The architecture is both grand and intimate as it is a commissioned church on private grounds.

The acoustics are similarly subtle and elevating at the same time. The feel of the place and its sonic quality provide a very interesting balance to my playing. The space requires the usual reverence inspired by the religious sites i have explored, and yet, its private, quiet and somehow isolated quality provides a sense of freedom and adventurous exploration.

So on that day, my playing was similarly balanced between the soulful melodic approach that sacred architecture often inspire, but also featured contemporary angular aspects of my recent research which has started to come through in a more marked way. In a recent article, i have presented a series of simple composition ideas that act like a springboard for my explorations in symmetry. I am now starting to witness how this latter approach is blending with a melodic sensitivity.

This is good progress, and hope to see the technique develop into a smoother method for improvising narratives, free from predictable harmonic movements. At least, this is the aim, and i do play in this freeflow way most of the time. But right now, my fingers are particularly focused on trying things out. I just can’t wait for the time the exercises have sunk in (and the new approach to harmony is finally memorised – which takes a looooong time), and i finally can step away from the practice into a proper freedom of narrative development.

 

This is really exciting for me as i am developing a sound i like, with a coherent method, achieving freedom of creativity, all without falling into the pit of predictability, the usual jazz clichés and patterns, or going through the motions of playing changes, as is often heard. So the aim remains the quite lofty method of freely developing coherent melodic and harmonic narratives in improvisation.

And my experience of Newby Church was inspiring enough to trigger this modality of playing. The space was allowing for both contemplative moments and free flowing sections. The reverb was rich yet subtle, grand yet intimate, and in the flux of sound that traveled the spiritual space, i could place both fast and slow, single pointed melody and harmonic play, abstract and structured approaches. A well balanced session, and a very liberating experience.

So it was only fitting to once again return to the use of water footage i have filmed recently and use the metaphorical association of waves which when combined create complex forms. Obviously, this applies to both sound and water; and the video acts as a metaphor as it puts both together in a random way, forcing the mind to make associations. And of course, synchronous movements inevitably happen.

At times, the video montage looks like sound and inspiration are crashing and flowing across the space, through me and my instrument. This exactly how such experiences feel to me. So the juxtaposition of the video clips live in the performance space with water abstraction works perfectly.

 

By now, and having read the previous presentation, the theme that runs through the titles of this triptych will become quite clear a reference to Foucault’s most inspiring work “Les Mots et les Choses” (transl as the Order of Things), with the added layer of meaning taken from the buddhist understanding that forms are empty and therefore highlighting the irony of obsessive taxonomy of empty forms, projected meaning of the modern technological world. Indeed, attachment to forms lead to suffering or rather unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) in the understanding that there is chaos inherent in all compounded things. This association hints for me at the cultural drift towards decorporated abstract thought, symbolism and the virtual, and the dissociation from the experience of reality which starts with Language and a propensity for projection.

Now that i have thrown together Foucault, Saussure, Walter Benjamin, Lacan and Freud all into the same bagful of buddhist teachings, just in the space of one paragraph, let us get literal and on a lighter note. Presenting the light filled Church of Christ the Consoler and musical notes and sounds that it inspired…

 

 

 

 

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as usual you can hear the full audio:

the order of things
alto saxophone, 04 feb 2017
newby church, christ the consoler

 

 

 

 

 

contemplating circles
alto saxophone, 04 feb 2017
newby church, christ the consoler

 

 

 

 

 





Jazz beats and sax

21 01 2017

lately, i have revisited the idea of working with backing tracks using computer. I find it is a quick way to lay down a few musical ideas.

generally, i am really not keen on using software instruments, and i really dislike spending time on the screen tweaking midi information. i much rather get my hands straight into matter and sculpt into the immediacy of sound. but still,  it is fun to improvise to some groove and it provides a change to abstraction. perhaps that’s what i do late at night when entertaining my neighbours with the horn is not an option.

using ableton live, it is easy to get a few simple ideas down and quickly move on to recording sax lines. and as it happens, i have a few project files waiting for some attention. some are just quick sketches, some tracks are more arranged. and just now, i have been wanting to put to good use the time i have spent working on new ideas with the saxophone.

 

i have been focusing on ways to develop musical narratives in improvisation. and i have been trying out various ways to find melodic or harmonic paths to navigate outside of established structures while maintaining a sense of evolving melody.

this work has come out of a desire to expand narratives in longer forms. i felt tied down by shorter cycles that keep resolving to the root, and wanted to open up the possibilities of extended melodic development such as found in classical music. however, i did not want to fall into completely random root movements. i guest i wanted a method that would be suited to support free flowing improvised narratives without being tied to a structural approach or to the predictability of a specific, limited linguistic approach. (i really do not take on the idea of limiting musical expression to the form of a language and follow on this metaphor to expression in terms of a personal vocabulary, and the implied pitfalls of predictability. ok, let’s not get too political or philosophical here.)

so to sum up my idea in a few (but rather big) words… i felt i needed to free myself from limiting structures and find an open method for the free flow development of narrative in improvisation. so i had to look outside of cyclical forms that imply repeated return to a root and this sense of continually converging back to a fixed point.

for this, i started working with musical ‘sounds’ that dissociated ‘root’ with ‘tonal centre’. this is a very interesting and important distinction, and looking into Steve Coleman’s idea of negative chords helped a lot. and then, it was just a question of finding ways to detach from the informed habit of sequencing the tonal centre in predictable ways. the only way was to follow the logic of narrative development and of course not falling into the pull of following protocol. a very good bass player once said to me the very simple rule that applies to all music, ‘harmony always follows melody’. it had to be this way, and not the opposite.

so in the development of melodic narrative, i removed the anchor, this force of attraction found in tonal centers, and instead looked for ways to follow the logic intrinsic to improvised narratives, so that the melody would keep unfolding without being tethered. i had to rethink how i looked at musical forms (and even how one looks at form… is emptiness, emptiness is form… remember?).

so i started developing modalities (rather than scales), harmonic shapes (rather than chords) and considering axis (rather than tonal centre) and therefore orbits, pathways, nodal points between orbits. we’re not lost in space here, this is not music of the spheres, nor a nihilist chromatic hell, however, i had to detach from traditional approach to tonality and think in terms of interval relationships – in order to be able to move freely between paths, while retaining a narrative logic, that is without sounding completely aleatory, chromatic or just random.

of course, it takes a long time to assimilate all this method in my playing, to be able to improvise with it, particularly as i do not have a mathematical nor analytical approach when playing. free flow is essential to creativity i believe, and one way to detach from predictable structures is to ‘walk away from the expectations of the world’, as is expressed in another article you can find in this blog.

this approach also has taken a long time to develop, and i found that some aspects of it started to show in the solo work i have been documenting as ‘sounding out‘.

 

more recently, i have taken this to the studio, and we are now back to where this article started.

so here are a few pieces that i have recorded using sets of chords and beats, which of course are all arranged in advance using live, and then improvised saxophone lines over the top.

some of these were recorded a while ago and explore simple ideas and remain very melodic.

 

 

 

and i do like messing with beats and groove, even improvising bass lines on the keyboard of my laptop (yes, right…)

 

 

 

other tracks were developed differently; for example, the following piece actually started with a saxophone improvisation, to which i later added keys and bass, allowing me to leave much space, and follow the feel of the narrative improvisation.

 

 

 

and more recently still, the saxophone is now exploring new structures over simple tonal background. i quite like the wobbly feel of that nasty reaktor synth – this is a nice change to the traditional keys set up i have been using. this is not modal music, and perhaps more open ended, as it is closer to the drone on indian raga.

 

 

 

and coming back to the more traditional quartet sound, which a live group could be playing, with drums, bass and keys, but this time using harmonic shapes more suited for the structural abstraction of saxophone improvisation… an extract from a longer piece, this track is more of a demo in a single modality, with the multiplicity of harmonic options implied:

 

 

 

to finish with, a couple more pieces hot from the press…

 


 

 

as usual, i hope you enjoy listening to this work, and would love to hear your thoughts and reactions…

 

peace,

xrv

 





Ecart de Sons EPK

29 08 2016

banner

 

 

contact:

henry – hherteman@wanadoo.fr

hervé – sndsukinspook@live.com

 

web

soundcloud.com/henry-herteman

soundcloud.com/herveperez

 

 

 

Dialogique intuitive d’un duo d’improvisateurs.

Multi-instrumentistes, ils sculptent des idiomes imaginaires de forme acoustique et électronique, à la croisée du jazz et de l’expérimental.

 

 

Ecart de Sons

documents audio:

01 [Ecole de Danse, Cazères]

02 [Club 52, Prat Bonrepeau]

03 [A.I.R., Sarrant]

04 [le caméléon, Toulouse]

 

 

 

Le duo Ecart de Sons offre un dialogue d’affinités musicales et poétiques de deux personnalités expérimentées dont la vocation est l’expressivité concertée.

 

Le parcours individuel de chaque musicien, riche de collaborations diverses est ponctué de nombreux concerts, d’enregistrements et compositions.

 

Le désir de parfaire ce duo prend corps au cours des années, et évolue selon la recherche de chaque musicien. Cette rencontre s’illustre dans la pratique de l’improvisation libre et des musiques intuitives et nouvelles, dont les bases convoquent: des développement jazz ou free, des idiomes imaginaires, des échos de la musique contemporaine et de l’electro-acoustique.

 

 

 

Documents video du duo en concert : vimeo.com/channels/ecartdesons

 

 

biographies:

 

Henry Herteman

clavier – trombone – mélodica – sax électronique

 

Musicien autodidacte, auteur de texte, il est attiré par la maîtrise du langage de divers instruments: piano, clavier, trombone, mélodica, percussion, Valiha Malgache.

Une orientation marquée par les rencontres d’improvisation avec lecteurs, poètes, musiciens, danseurs, peintres, performeurs. Engagé dans les courants d’échanges spontanés, de rencontres croisées. Il revendique le concept d’improvisation libre ou compovisée et musique intuitive avec des incursions dans les climats du jazz, du rock progressif, de la musique ethnique voire contemporaine. Ne rien s’interdire est son fil conducteur.

Il participe et organise de nombreux événements sur les scènes régionales de la musique improvisée. Participe aux ateliers de l’IREA, aux Sonofages, intervient aux «Nuits de Lauzerte» dans une performance «Passages croisés». Concepteur des journées de musique intuitives, des concerts rue des fleurs.

Il sort en mai 2015 un CD solo, Roule ta Salive chez Improvising Beings. Un travail qu’il présente au théâtre du pavé.

 

Sur son trajet, il croise nombreux musiciens:

Didier Laserre , Nuch Werchowska, Le Fil, Grand Piac, Zoubooo, Synapsis, Gilles Dalbis, Naoto Yamagishi, Laurent Rodriguez, Heddy Boubaker

 

soundcloud.com/henry-herteman

henrynow.simplesite.com

 

 

 

hervé perez

saxophones – shakuhachi – laptop

 

artiste, compositeur, improvisateur.

Participant actif sur la scène Européenne depuis 2000, en collaboration avec d’autres formes artistiques tel la danse, l’art visuel et l’écriture, il s’intéresse principalement aux modalités d’improvisation et aux relations entre musiciens, audience et environnement.

Travaille dans différentes formations de free jazz et d’improvisation libre, électroacoustique et musique contemporaine, ainsi qu’en performances solo. Il présente aussi son travail audio-visuel en installations in situ.

Il poursuis une recherche du son et sciences vibratoires d’une part, et aussi développe une approche très contemporaine de l’harmonie et de la mélodie. Inspiré de techniques anciennes de guérison et par la pratique de la méditation, il intègre science et spiritualité au sein de modalités de performance de la composition spontanée.

Le travail sur la résonance, la relation des formes vibratoires à l’architecture et au corps, la pratique du deep listening font alors partie intégrante du processus créatif qu’il chemine hors des enceintes stylistiques.

 

sndsukinspook.wordpress.com

spacers.lowtech.org/herve

soundcloud.com/herveperez

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https://vimeo.com/channels/ecartdesons