Not Necessarily Music #5
Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, Sunday, January 13, 2008

With special guests from Chicago
Fred Lonberg-Holm & Frank Rosaly

Not Necessarily Music #5: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Frank Rosaly

Fred Lonberg-Holm & Frank Rosaly
Photo by Alex Hart (More photos...)

Not Necessarily Music #4
Free discipline for about 17 improvisers
Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, Friday, June 8, 2007

(click here to listen to this set and to more music by the monks)

Not Necessarily Music #4

Photo by Alex Hart

Vanita & Johanna Monk: In a group improvisation you can never hear yourself the way you sound to the other players. From where you're standing you're always right in the middle of it. The audience and the recording devices also pick up an entirely different combination of sounds. In free group improvisation, playing the right thing too loud or too soft can make it sound quite wrong. And what if you can't even hear the people at the other end of the stage? Is this all just a matter of stage technique, a technical problem for which there is a technical solution, or is it something inevitable you have to learn to deal with in a more philosophical way? How can you ever know what your place is in the whole?

Eddie Prévost: If the criteria for making improvised music is that you must be able to hear all the constituent parts and respond to them, then, from a practical point of view, large group improvisation is difficult if not impossible to practice. Of course it may be perfectly possible to make a good piece of music - as far as an audience is concerned - without the players being able to hear each other. But personally I find this an unsatisfactory situation. It becomes then a strategy for performance which might as well be a composition. (note: symphonic orchestral players cannot hear all the parts of the music that they are engaged with). You can never be certain of your place within the whole. But, in my opinion, part of the reason to practice this music is to try and discover something more about yourself. This is in relation to the materials you use and in relation to the musicians you perform with. I think that there should be something transcendent in the experience. If working within a large ensemble negates this kind of possibility, then the player should stop and work within small groups.

(read the rest of this interview at (

Not Necessarily Music #3
4x3 = still free
Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, Saturday, March 3, 2007

(click here to listen to this set and to more music by the monks)

- Tradition is a concept of - that improvisation has a tradition. And like all traditions - they're just a tradition. Traditions can expand, like painting, art, music. Tradition doesn't mean conservatism. It can be postmodernism too. You know, people have a tendency to say, "oh, what is traditional?" But in our 21st century, what could be in the tradition, you know what I'm saying? In the sense of being postmodern, of being part of a modern society. So I think that people confuse the word, like when they think, "oh yeah, in the tradition means way back..." But actually, what we tried to establish with In The Tradition, the word, established itself as an improvising tradition, which means that it has a very long route, goes back about forty thousand years. See, improvisation is quite old.
- The original music.
- Exactly.
- The first time we made sounds just for the thrill of hearing them...
- It was improvised. Exactly.

Alan Silva, interviewed in 2001 by Vanita & Johanna Monk

Not Necessarily Music #2
Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, Saturday, February 3, 2007

"A new listener to freely improvised music comes to this experience not as a fresh mind. Every listener has a wealth of listening experience. They may have been taught western classical. They may be embued with the folk music of their ethnic culture. They may have been thoroughly lost in the hedonism of rock and roll. When such a person comes to another form of music, whose rules of performance (and of listening) are different from what they have experienced so far, they are confused. The sounds, the anticipated meanings and the expected effects, do not occur. They suffer what I call an aesthetic mis-match. Small wonder then without gaining some understanding about the rules of engagement and the musical objectives, that a new listener is completely bewildered by what they hear."
- Eddie Prévost, interviewed in 2001 by Vanita & Johanna Monk

Not Necessarily Music #1
Poortgebouw, Rotterdam, Saturday, December 16, 2006

Trio #1 du Désir Mutuel:

Trio #2 de la Discipline Monastique:

Trio #3 de la Cruauté des Maîtres de Cérémonie:

"Diversity is its most consistent characteristic. It has no stylistic or idiomatic commitment. It has no prescribed idiomatic sound. The characteristics of freely improvised music are established only by the sonic-musical identity of the person or persons playing it. Historically, it pre-dates any other music - mankind's first musical performance couldn't have been anything other than a free improvisation - and I think that it is a reasonable speculation that at most times since then there will have been some music-making most aptly described as free improvisation."
- Derek Bailey: Improvisation, its Nature and Practice in Music.

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