Friday, October 31, 2014

Derek Bailey Introductory Talk on Celtic Art and unidentified Band Rehearsal 1973

Photo Co Broerse Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, October 18th, 1987.
Recording of part of a Derek Bailey performance, fragments of a talk on Celtic art and a band rehearsal in a domestic setting. Begins with Bailey appearing to tune an acoustic guitar, although it soon becomes apparent that it’s part of a performance. Atonal but innovative percussive use of the guitar strings - stretching, pitch bending, using harmonics - which lasts for around 5 minutes. The tape cuts to a second performance using an electric guitar, with similar experimental techniques, as well as feedback, which is cut off after 4 minutes.


There is a wide shot of the stage with two men talking behind the camera, trying to work out if they are recording or not: ‘What’s wrong?’ ’I don’t know.’ ’Is the red light on?’ The film cuts to man talking about Celtic art, with reproductions laid out on a table in front of him - could be in the Blythswood Square offices. He refers to Glasgow as the ‘largest Celtic city in the world’ and it seems that the recording is of a programme that’s intended to be for distribution. At about 14 minutes, the tape cuts to a band rehearsal in what appears to be a domestic setting (there is a lamp visible).

Photo Rski

Instrumentation includes drum kit, 2 guitars and a saxophone, stylistically there is a lot of distortion and improvisation. Cuts back and forth between the band and Celtic art talk, then at the end there are some ambient shots of a road and some stairs through a doorway, with male voices behind the camera and then a shot of a man’s face. Seems to be someone experimenting with the camera.

Photo Lorenzo Marotta

One of the leading figures in the British improvised music scene, Bailey was also co-founder of the Incus record label with Evan Parker and a co-founder of the influential Musics magazine. His books, Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice (1980) was also very influential and in the second edition he distanced himself from the term ‘improvised’, replacing it with the idea of ‘non-idiomatic’ music as he felt improvisation had become a recognised genre.

Many thanks to The Centre for Contemporary Arts  in Glasgow for his kind permission to reproduce this video from his archive.

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