I`m extrapolating this phrase from the military historian John Keegan, who has noted in both animals and people a “critical distance”, a physical space in an encounter across which two entities evaluate each other as either benign or threatending. “The fight or flight” scenario.
In music making, this is a moment of sonic crisis. It could be the point where a player or players won´t stop running their hot riffs or chord changes; and it´s dragging on the unity that the group is requiring while en route to Jupiter.
Conversely, it could be a situation where the whole group is improvising beneath its potential. Playing lazy; hanging around grooves. Jam session. Modal noodling in A minor. Not listening deeply enough.
At some juncture a player interrupts the proceedings with all the sonic divergence necessary to force a departure from whatever was previously going on. Attack-mode creative intervention – which could be anything that doesn´t injure anyone- is often a good idea when confronted by improvisational loafing.
If neither player (or faction of players) backs down, it can sometimes work for these two incompatible components to go on in juxtaposition together. In fact, it can sometimes turn out quite nicely as a type of sound collage, for a minute anyway.
With improvisation, insurgency is often a function of the sonic immune system.
Photos by Man Ray
01.- Call it anything you want
02.- Concerning accidents
03.- Dislike of musical noise explained
05.- Truth in music appretiation
06.- What is musical free improvisation
07.- Our Universe
08.- Working Jung's Riff
10.- When it's our of our hands
11.- Glad we didn't order the special
12.- Working Jung's Riff
13.- Know the enemy
14.- The mutable form
15.- Concerning Inmortality
16.- Mach Numbers
17.- Conditionalities of Quietude
18.- Then and now
19.- Why not Sneeze
20.- We Passed Jupiter and Then Headed North
21.- Product Placement
22.- Coming under Fire
23.- Longevity of the Unpredictable
24.- Signal Intelligence
25.- FUBAR to the Rescue
26.- What Was That?
27.- The Sonata Came much Later
28.- Coming Under Fire
29.- An Unlikely Crisis
30.- The Huge Flummox Factor
Based in a noted musician's decades of personal experiences, his book Solo Gig: Essential Curiosities in Musical Free Improvisation (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011) examines some crucial and far-reaching aspects of musical free improvisation, with particular regard to live performances. In this illustrated collection of narrative essays, the author looks both into and from inside this uniquely paradoxical, challenging and rewarding way of making music, within the context of an inherently eccentric milieu.