Saturday 5 April 2008

The Abstract Truth

Following up the last post On the Edge of Now, I thought I might offer a glimpse of the host of that documentary through this clip of Derek Bailey and dancer Min Tanaka as an illustration of the contextual essence in abstract improvisations like Baileys. I was delighted to hear in that documentary where Derek Bailey himself expresses surprise that his labels were able to peddle his discs at all -- by its very nature, improvisational music is deeply entangled in the live time-space; wrest from that space, there is as little to grasp as when taking a Pollock canvas into a textbook.

The music expresses that space there, and in this space here, it is only artifact and shadow, a document at best. History. His story. Is it any wonder people prefer dance music on CD, music they can spin alive into their personal now? Or at least, they can try.

In this particular video I imagine that 'then' and become transfixed by Min Tanaka's dance; I feel I want to digitally sweep away Derek standing there among the onlookers, divesting the scene of any visual ground to the setting and just leave Min as the focal dynamic, illuminated by Derek's sound the way Toru Takemitsu might have illuminated such a scene for a Kurosawa film, at once totally personal and perfectly ordinary. So too the aleatoric works of John Cage and David Tutor, the dada-bent soundscapes of purposelessness which are post hoc threaded into sense by our compulsions to link the purposely unrelated events.

Only, there is a difference with improvisation: While John Cage would choose his scenarios and materials to fit the event and while Takamitsu would linger on the sets and absorb each scene before scoring it, and while he often would recommend directorial changes, theirs was a passive reaction to the visual; Derek and Min, on the other hand, are entangled, each influencing each other right there, in real time, trading time and choice, a living forging the present tense together.

Amazon: Derek Bailey