Drawing on unlimited resources

Encounter in improvised music and compositional awareness


Every person can generate acoustic vibrations that have emotional or spiritual meaning for him or her. This acoustic event thus expresses something internal: from the inside to the outside.

Ongoing, in-depth engagement with the nature of acoustic events; with the traditions and possibilities of their organisation; with investigations of ways of generating vibrations on which the source of sound is based, whether traditionally or beyond; with acquiring an ability to use an instrument to generate a desired acoustic result; an ability to play a contributing role in creative communities of activity: All this is what it takes to make a musician.

The aim and the fascinating ability of music is one of communication.
For this to occur, music must be perceptible to the human being, i.e. it must take an audible form.
The things experienced, developed, conceived, hoped for, recalled, felt, dreamt … are all sources from which artistic content can be created.
One of the forms in which the communication of content can be made accessible to experience is the creative flow of free and open collective improvisation – as an art of the moment.
Such a creative process is free and open wherever nothing possible is excluded.

Encounter in improvised music occurs not only between musicians/composers and their audiences, but also as a creative, exciting process WITHIN the group (ensemble) making the music.

Every artistic encounter of improvising musicians is a meeting of multi-layered musical worlds; a constellation of people, each with his or her own musical socialisation, full of individual musical knowledge and its multifaceted aesthetic manifestations, the specific rules of emergence, with compositional awareness and a willingness to engage with the unknown, the new, the intense.

It is a meeting of musical worlds with the possibility of opening oneself to an inexhaustible store of new collective opportunities, a store unique to the composition of such a group of people.

The flow of improvisation involves a host of creative behaviours around emerging musical situations:

  • • Conventional reactions
  • • Unconventional reactions
  • Being open to all possibilities, even to ‘the things that exceed one’s own known universe’.
  • • The freedom to draw, without restriction, from the abundance of one’s own world(s), and the entire range of available technical and artistic avenues, in this collective process of communicative creation with compositional awareness.

Compositional awareness

Compositional awareness also entails knowledge of the opportunity presented by the ability to create musical situations in an interactive flow of collective improvisation – situations that constitute a structural basis that presents fellow musicians with occasions for the art of playing in this referential setting:

The establishment of a rhythmic flow (groove) as a way of enabling development of the ‘art of the game related to a meter’ (inside, outside, etc.).

  • The establishment of a harmonic field (modality, chord progressions, etc.) as a way of enabling development of the ‘art of playing related to a harmonic situation’ (inside, outside, etc.).
  • The establishment of a melody as a way of enabling the development of the ‘art of reference to a melody’ (counterpoint, polyphony, etc.).
  • The establishment of cultural references (traditional forms, styles, quotations, etc.) as a way of enabling the dramaturgical ‘art of stating one’s position’ (affirmative joining-in, counter-position, spiritual polyphony, etc.).

The course of an open, collective improvisation is a living game with musical changes that occur in the flowing moment of the event: Emergence – Existence – Dissipation – Flow – Form.

Free improvisation is an engagement with the possibilities of the present, a creative establishment of contact and communication, an artistic manifestation of what is hanging in the air, in the consciousness, in the subconscious and superconscious of the participants, in the realm of that which is possible and as yet uncreated.

Here, there is space for the personality, ability and the artistic concern of the improviser wielding compositional awareness: a creative, form-giving play with traditions, boundaries, boundary crossings and the unknown.

Drawing on unlimited resources
Theory & Practice / Drawing on unlimited resources © Norbert Stein Pata Music