Kant I? – Does improvising improve self-esteem?

Does the capacity for improvising and listening to improvised music improve a person’s (and a society’s) self-esteem? And what might the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant add to this question?

In this episode, composer Casper Hernández Cordes draws on his own experiences with improvisation teaching to reflect on the relation between open artistic practices and selfhood.

The background music to the podcast is an improvisation in itself by the composer, ‘commenting’ on the content of the podcast.

Listen to improvisations dealing with these ideas here: https://soundcloud.com/chcordes/sets/kant-i

Music as an ecosystem?

What happens if we create and experience music as a kind of ecosystem?

Improvising on the piano, using what I would call intuitive intelligence, I am developing a method for using my body, hands, arms, and mind to create a kind of sound ecosystem.

This is how this improvisation came into existence:

Next step is to make a score, a transcription of the improvisation. Check it out here.

The score as a map of the ecosystem. A map that can be explored, researched, studied, expanded, etc. Putting the score in front of me on the piano, I made ‘journeys’ into the ecosystem, resulting in a number of variations on the composition.

A traditional format – theme and variations. In nature, we are talking organisms interacting in an ecosystem, and evolving, mutating, adjusting, etc.

Listen to the variations here:

Please share your thoughts about the variations. Help me decide which (parts) to develop further. Comment on the tracks, in the tracks. Thanks! 🙂

Composición improvisada en grupos – nuevas experiencias

En enero – febrero 2016 estoy en la residencia de artistas de la fundacion Lugar a Dudas, en Cali, Colombia.

Durante mi estancia tengo la oportunidad de dar talleres en la Universidad del Valle y el Instituto Departemental de Bellas Artes.

En este video se puede ver estudiantes de música de la Universidad del Valle participando en un taller de composición improvisada en grupo.

Antes del taller di una introducción al marco conceptual:

Marco conceptual del taller de composición improvisada

(Hazle clic al imagen para ver en mas grande)

En mi experiencia hay una tendencia en mis talleres que la gente se divierten mucho. No obstante tengo esta pequeña inquietud que los participantes van a quedarse con eso – el entretenimiento, nada mas.

Con este marco conceptual mi esperanza fue que se den cuenta de lo serio que es ‘jugar’, y cuales son las relaciones con la vida ‘real’ y sus representaciones.

Inspirado por el filosofo francés Paul Ricour, el papel presenta en forma de diagrama la relación entre el campo practico, o la ‘vida real’ con todos sus acciones e interacciones, el orden paradigmático, en qué almacenamos nuestra conocimiento de cuales son las posibles combinaciones de las acciones y el orden syntagmático, qué tiene que ver con las representaciones actuales, es decir las obras de arte, las telenovelas, los narativos, composiciones etc., es decir formas de combinar lo potencial del orden paradigmático en algún tipo de composición que puede influenciar el campo practico de alguna forma, positiva o negativa.

Ver la introducción al marco conceptual:

It’s alive!! – a collaborative “living album”

Did you ever wonder why live music is so much more exciting than listening to music in your living room? Isn’t it partly because the music you download from iTunes or stream from Spotify is exactly the same each time you listen to it? No surprises!

Recorded music just keeps repeating the same old patterns not caring about who is listening, when, where and how often. Just like some halfway autistic aunt who babbles about herself for hours, not aware that everyone else is sick and tired of listening to the same stories over and over again.

Barefoot Records is a collective of improvisors and composers, who are very active on the Danish music scene. As a  proud part of this collective, I have engaged in a journey that will explore ways of challenging the way we publish and distribute music.

Read about the project here: Publishing music as a living eco-system

First step in this journey is to develop a “living album”. This is a pilot project, and we – the artists at Barefoot Records – are inviting you to collaborate!

You might have heard about crowdfunding? Would you like to be part of a crowdsourcing experiment? You are hereby invited to take part in a collaboration, where anyone on the Web can pitch in with ideas in a creative effort to break new ground in the way we listen to and conceive of music!!

This is how it works:

  1. The Barefoot artists are recording a series of improvisations. In each take a single musician is improvising freely.
  2. The takes, – let’s call them soundscapes –  are released on soundcloud.com, please visit the set here.
  3. On Soundcloud, you can comment on the soundscapes, in the sound itself. For each comment, we open a small discussion, and we can add links to other comments, thus building conceptual connections between different parts of the soundscapes. Please share your comments about the improvisations, giving special attention to
    1. what images/ambiences/atmospheres/landscapes do the soundscapes evoke? Where are the aesthetic bridges between the soundscapes? Which parts match, and how? This will help us build banks of sounds, that we can combine in different ways, according to the musical imagery they evoke.
    2. how do you perceive the overall forms of the improvisations? If you consider each improvisation as a narrative, what is the form of the story? These analyses will give us some macro-forms to use when programming the generic structural elements of the album.
    3. imagine that you are listening to the final “living album”. The sounds will combine according to the above mentioned banks of sound and the macro-forms, in a way that is dependent on what happens at the specific time and place where you listen. In which way would it make sense for the sounds to interact with your environment? When programming the album, we can play with time, place, and we can connect with the computer’s “sensors”, i.e. camera, microphone, as well as streams of data from the Internet.
  4. After this process of crowdsourcing, of co-creating the collective living work of sound art, composer Casper Hernández Cordes will compile sounds, forms and interaction patterns in a living album, an application, that you can download for free. Every time you open the application on your computer, you will hear new pieces.
  5. The app will enable you to save the pieces, and you are invited to upload them to soundcloud. There, you will comment on the piece, and on the living album, sharing your experiences with the community of co-creators.

How about that? Click here, and you can participate! Join us! Comment! Share! Create!

Anthropomorfer – a tool for intercontinental collective sound art improvisation?

We are all virtuosos with our voices. Imagine being able to improvise over the sounds around you using your voice as an infinitely fine-tuned  controller. While  real time jamming with someone on the other side of the planet.

The mission is: I want to find the optimal tool to allow people to improvise sound art in collectives across the planet, in a creative, pleasurable, and reflective way. I have developed the Anthropomorfer as a desktop application, allowing collectives to improvise, while being in the same place. Now, I want to extend the functionality from a local wifi based context to a global web-based one.

The tool is intended for anyone interested in working with sound as a means for expression, but these contexts are of special interest:

  • working with children developing their analogue literacy and their divergent thinking
  • in organisations enhancing communication skills

What will the participant experience:

1) Open your app. Start a group or sign up for one. Select a sound, either by recording it on the spot, or from a database of sounds that other users have chosen. 2) You now hear your audio while viewing it as a waveform on your smartphone. You choose which part of the sound you want. 3) When all the participants in your group has chosen and cut their sound, start your session 3… 2… 1…. and:  4) improvise together. You can turn volume up and down, pan, and you can shape your sound with your voice via the phone’s microphone. 5) afterwards, you listen to the improvisation, give it thumbs up or down, and if a majority votes for it, the improvisation is saved on the server. Here you can comment and discuss it.

What lies behind:

Technically, there must be a server where the program runs, and audio files are stored. From each cell phone the server receives  1) an upload of a short sound file (max. 15 seconds). Or a selected audio file, which is already on the server. 2) A flow of analysis of the voice. Not the voice. Just analysis of pitch and volume. The server streams audio from the collective improvisation to the participants.


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