The Canterbury Scratch Orchestra28. Feb - 28. Feb 13 / ended Sidney Cooper Gallery
Doors Open 6 pm, performance 6.30 - 7.30 pm
Listening by Sam Bailey and Canterbury Scratch Orchestra
There are three aspects to this piece. The first is about how we listen. Pure listening (with eyes shut) is a rare and intimate occurrence. The musicians in this piece have their eyes shut are attempting to listen attentively and generously to the sounds around them.
The second dimension of this piece concerns the affect of having your face covered whilst playing music. Having spent many years performing music whilst wearing a mask I have experienced the lack of inhibition and switching off of social mechanisms that this involves. The musicians involved in this piece have had their social currency – their face – obscured and can therefore be said to be in a kind of trance. The acting coach Keith Johnstone said that ‘to understand the mask it is also necessary to understand the nature of trance’.
The third aspect of this piece concerns the audience/observers. We live in a culture where sight is the dominant mode of perception. A symptom of this is what the musicologist Lawrence Kramer calls ‘the listening gaze’: the interpretation of sonic events through visual information. Related to this is the habit of identifying music with the musician. The composer Gavin Bryars complained that improvising music is ‘like standing a painter next to his picture so that every time you see the painting you see the painter as well’. The defacement of the musicians in this piece is designed to release the sounds and musicians, challenging the tendency to rely on an autobiographical understanding of music making in the hope of cultivating a listening that is more alive to the subjectless ambiguity of sound.
Sam Bailey is an improvising musician and teacher. He runs a weekly series of concerts called Free Range, leads the Canterbury Scratch Orchestra and has recently finished a practice-led PhD in improvised music.
Canterbury Scratch Orchestra is an undergraduate ensemble interested in open approaches to improvising music. The orchestra has given many concert performances as well as playing in cafés, mazes, supermarkets and art galleries. They have collaborated with dancers, filmmakers, poets, Indian classical musicians, singer-songwriters and live electronics. The performers in Listening are:
Christabel Allen soprano saxophone
Adam Byard clarinet
Eleanore Hodge voice
Oren Gurney alto saxophone
Lucy Roth flute
Flo Wilson clarinet
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