Christopher Williams will be running a workshop/presentation on creating and performing notation for improvising musicians. This will be held on 25th Jan at 2-4pm, in MDg01.

Tactile Paths: an introduction to notation for improvisers

Since the 1960s, many composers and musicians have worked with the encounter of notation and improvisation. The list is long and diverse: Richard Barrett, Anthony Braxton, Earle Brown, Cornelius Cardew, Malcolm Goldstein, Vinko Globokar, George E. Lewis, Annea Lockwood, Pauline Oliveros, Bob Ostertag, Wadada Leo Smith, John Zorn, and myself are just a few examples. Thinking about this body of work as a whole – connected by methods and practices that belie aesthetic and historical differences – has much to recommend itself to both practitioners and scholars. As I detail in my Ph.D. dissertation “Tactile Paths“, it challenges assumptions about notation and improvisation beyond this repertoire alone. It also broadens our awareness of the many ways in which performers and composers approach collectivity and collaboration.

This presentation introduces some of the dynamics, potentials, and problems that this music shares, centering on the following questions:

· What aspects of improvising can be fruitfully addressed through notation?

· In what ways can notation incorporate improvisers’ unique and embodied performance practices into the compositional process?

· How does notation construct, deconstruct, or reconstruct improvisers’ relationships to each other? How do performers listen to each other differently with and without a score?

· How does music involving notation for improvisers encourage us to rethink the way we conceptualize and talk about musical labor?

In particular, I will focus on two chapters of “Tactile Paths” that use creative practice as a research tool: the documentary film Seeing the Full Sounding: Christopher Williams Explores Two Pieces by Malcolm Goldstein and the radio feature A Treatise Remix. Although excerpts will be shown, the audience is welcome to watch and listen to these pieces in their entirety before the presentation.

Christopher Williams (1981, San Diego, lives in Berlin) is a wayfarer on the body-mind continuum. His medium is music. B.A., University of California, San Diego; Ph.D., Leiden University. As a composer and contrabassist, Williams’s work runs the gamut from chamber music, improvisation, and radio art to collaborations with dancers, sound artists, and visual artists. Williams’ artistic research includes several articles and book chapters; presentations at universities and conferences across North America, Europe, and India; and a native digital dissertation entitled “Tactile Paths: on and through Notation for Improvisers“. He co-curates the monthly contemporary music series KONTRAKLANG and manages sales and productions for immersive sound experience makers Charles Morrow Productions.