Pei Ann Yeoh – Was I Only Imagining It?

Improvisation or noise. Musical or creative. There are no absolutes when thinking about music, but there are absolutes when writing about music. At least, that is the case when trying to write about noise. The connotation of ‘noise’ makes music incoherent to listeners. What are we hearing when we listen to free improvisation? 

This paper reflects on my experience playing in Veryan Weston’s As You Hear. Our first performance in Warsaw (3rd December 2017) – http://jazz.jazzarium.pl/kalendarz/festiwal-improwizacje-veryan-weston-trio was followed by another one at The Vortex (6th August 2018) – http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/event/veryan-westons-as-you-hear/. These remain the only times the ensemble has played together. ‘As You Hear’ suggests that our performance is as much constructed by the listeners as it is by us. In other words, listeners play a role in shaping ‘noise’ into music. It is also an invitation for the listeners to construct the music, as it were. Thus, I will use this invitation to hear and apply it on a performance I attended at IKLECTIK (19th August 2018) by musicians Julie Kjaer, Hannah Marshall, and Rachel Musson (https://iklectikartlab.com/mussonkjaermarshall/). 

My reflective analysis as performer and listener will use the parallels (trio ensemble) and divergence (instrumentation) between the two ensembles to articulate a perspective of ‘noise’ that is based on free improvisation. I will consider which elements were successful for each ensemble while reflecting on what was possible within each scenario. I also interrogate my first instinct in which I find my reactions to free improvisation as a performer is ‘music’; where conversely, my reactions to free improvisation as a listener is ‘noise’. In moving between perspectives of performer and listener, I hope to locate where the music is when we grapple with ‘ideas of noise’. 

Pei Ann Yeoh - Was I Only Imagining It