What is a label

by Ole Schmidt, 10/12/02

A reply to the text by Wolfgang Schliemann / Joachim Zoepf on the forum site of Carl Ludwig Hübsch

The authors write: "The necessity to claim improvised music as an independent artistic category arises almost inevitably for practitioners from the everyday experience that no one else has a plausible interest in it" ... I can explain the inevitable necessity with the same argument To claim, for example, my daily teeth cleaning performance as an independent artistic category, because nobody else has a plausible interest in this either and what would be an "implausible" interest? Since the following text is peppered with meaningless word combinations like this one, I will forego discussing each of them in the following. Let the willing reader judge for himself.


"Definition", "delimiting designation", "label", "classification" are essentially the same for me. The assertion made in the subordinate clause that the updating of improvisation has played a central role in the theory and practice of contemporary music creation since the middle of the 20th century. I think it is daring (if one again overlooks the question of what the "actualization of a musical phenomenon" should actually be (see above)). The fat bowl full of hot porridge that we are talking about opens up above all for the authors.

If musical improvisation is the most widespread form of musical activity, which is another claim without specifying a (local) frame of reference (Mr.Bailey does not refer to a scientific study on the subject to my knowledge), diffusion is not an argument for quality (millions of flies can don't be wrong ...).
To invoke the extra-musical qualities of improvisation ... "it is the essence of all play" ... is a weak argument - one could just as rightly argue that random operations are the only true basis of musical composition, since life is also one A series of coincidences is (if one just (coincidentally !?) belongs to the-life-consists-only-of-coincidences-faith community).

In the following paragraph, the words immediacy, presence, clarity, complexity, differentiation, authenticity and simultaneity are built into a sentence in any order. The sentence could just as well be: "This attitude expresses presence, a need for clarity and complexity; improvisation is by no means in contradiction to the requirements for simultaneity and authenticity, on the contrary, it makes both possible, whenever it is immediate Communication processes are about differentiation. " Or also: "This attitude expresses differentiation, a need for authenticity and complexity; improvisation in no way contradicts the requirements for simultaneity and clarity, on the contrary, it only makes both possible whenever it is a matter of direct communication processes, So about the present. "

I will spare the reader further variations, of which many would be possible and which would certainly make a similarly great sense.

So now comes the promised definition, demarcating designation, label, classification and on the one hand (in the first part) it is copied from a music lexicon from 1996 and adds (in the second part) that what is special about improvisation is the simultaneity of a process, which the composition is only able to achieve at different times. So that is the whole profit, the whole justification for a self-asserted independent artistic category (in which nobody is plausibly interested)! The authors graciously withhold from us that with this simultaneity - in the heat of the moment, so to speak - some clarity, complexity and differentiation fall by the wayside. In return, we have all the more immediacy, presence, authenticity

I consider the fact that there is non-idiomatic improvisation to be pure hypocrisy, because you cannot speak without language. With the help of the fashions in the scene of the "pure" improvisers, one can see very nicely how fashions from composed serious music are rediscovered there with a certain delay. Extremely low dynamics and a preference for noises in the simple sense of the word are currently popular recipes among improvisers, for example. These further developments take place on the material ("vocabulary") level, which shows the idiomatic ties of "free" improvisation.

... "If improvisation is taken seriously as an end in itself, the improvising subjects can reassure themselves of that playful attitude that was theirs at the very beginning of their personal development. But this is now an attitude that is evident from everyone's conscious openness to results significantly differentiates others and questions the choice of means in the playing process again and again; an aesthetic dogma is just as external to her as the calculation of reproducibility, whereby an unlimited variety of unique music is constantly emerging and disappearing.

The first sentence sounds to me like an advertising brochure for a form of therapy, back to the toddler? Incidentally, as I can study on my own son, this also has the conscious openness to results and repeatedly questions the means in its game processes. But whether the conscious openness to results cannot also prevail when composing music and means can be chosen just as freely, albeit at different times? So, furthermore: the only artistic quality claimed by the authors so far is that improvisation can do something at the same time that others can only do one after the other. You have to let the following, last sentence of the quoted section melt on your tongue. What poor people struggle with composing and also with inferior, content-oriented improvisation, the true improviser produces in unlimited variety and quantity and also escapes the stupid calculation of reproducibility. That is the solution to all problems, and the Jehovah's Witnesses couldn't put it better.

The authors demand special treatment for "improvised music". Not only must it not be received like normal music, but it must be judged according to "fundamentally different criteria". This is self-stigmatization (our music is a bit dyslexic) and lobbying at the same time. Some fiery representatives of simultaneity like to use (with the help of small cheating) the non-simultaneous music from the lobby meatpots.

If the authors have written this text openly and questioning the choice of their words in the writing process again and again, I hope for them and me and the others (without plausible interest) that they do not produce an unlimited amount of unique music in the quality of this text.

For an ecological awareness when dealing with sounds and words!

The world is filled with garbage words and sounds. Do we have to enlarge the mountain of rubbish? I think no! Better to think while improvising (and writing), also at the risk of non-simultaneity and result orientation. Producing rubbish is neither a provocation nor an "artistic category" in which nobody is plausibly interested.

Such texts do not help improvisation any further! On the contrary, they help prevent it from being taken seriously. You have to say with Helge Schneider: "Notebook out, class work".