Quotes from Stefan Szczelkun's, Improvisation Rites

Here is a selection of quotes from participants of performances described in Improvisation Rites: from John Cage to Nature Study Notes. These quotes were taken from Chapter 3: Archive and Evaluate and were delivered at the meeting in MayDay Rooms (London). See the parent book review for more details.

p. 96(94), Hugh Shrapnel

I must say, in hindsight, that the improvisation rites have an overall uniqueness — almost a new art form with elements of theatre, music, visuals — but amounting to something else. They have great variety (reflecting the individual character and preoccupations of the author) but an overall character (if this makes sense!)

p.97(95), Michael Parsons

[It] always seemed to me to be slightly awkward and artificial to have a rite to begin with. I think that if it's going to be improvisation I'd rather it was completely free; that people were responding to each other and the environment and the situation — and they don't have any allegiance to a previous text of any kind. But on the other hand […]

p. 98(96), Jane Alden

Part of the function of the Rites for me, given that not all of us have had equal experience of completely free improv, is that the Rites gave us the chance to get to know each other

p. 99(97), Emmanuelle Waeckerle

Learning to handle all these changing energies, understandings, confusion and misunderstandings that built up throughout these meetings allowed you as an individual to find your place within the group and between yourself, the group and your own practice as well. That is what I think the Rites are for…

p. 99-100(97-98), Emmanuelle Waeckerle

Some people need them [Improvisation Rites], if they haven't had much experience of improvisation for example; others don't, some need something to fight/rebel against and they can be used for that…

p. 100(98), Matt Scott

[W]hat I suspected — and I think hasn't changed — was that the Rites were best meant as an invitation to make music, and a way of enabling a group of people… to guide them through, to liberate them to make music, rather than as an inhibition.

p. 102(100), Stefan Szczelkun

It seems very new. I'm not that into 'newness' but the recording [of Improvisation Rites] feels like it's part of today, of what's happening. That seems like the way to change the world. The way culture changes the world. When we can reinterpret what we are experiencing to day in new ways, especially in relation to each other.

p. 106(104), Linn D

[It was] physical, because there's space to perform, you are using your whole being and not just voice or body, but with expression and movement and theatre, so I don't ever think of Scratch Music, of Nature Study Notes, as music. […] I think of it as doing things, or as performance and interaction with any bit of creativity that happens to fit in at the time it happens. […] There is a gorgeous freedom to… play. For me it's 'play'. Like children play.

p. 107(105), Stefan Szczelkun

So, we did achieve something in those village concerts in the early 70s …. unlike the Queen Elisabeth Hall or the Bethoven Today concerts or some of the other London music venues… We were outside the Music scene, we were doing something 'out of context'. Recently we were playing Cafe Oto which is a recognised place for experimental music but we were unfunded and, even here we are completely outside of the establishments invitation, validation or opprobrium?

p.108(106), John Hails

[I]t wouldn't have been authentic for us to perform like those late 60s early 70s Scratch Orchestra performances now because things have changed. We are different, media is different, it's a very, very different set-up […]

p. 108(106), Howard Slater

I think something along the lines that a relationship can have a sound. Or a social relation can have a sound.

p. 108(106), Howard Slater

I don't think you could claim that Scratch Orchestra was a harbinger of punk music, but there is a similar sort of… […] 'amorphousness' […] So that sort of sense of just a freedom-to-be. And all punk groups were a form of relationship […] you had to be friends…

p. 110(108), Robbie Lockwood

There's something about Scratch that is I think crucial, I think it's tentative, and I think it's about saying 'we dare to step outside'. We dare to go to places we haven't previously determined. There is something there about the collective and the sensible. There is something about the sensible and about empathy […]

p. 111(109) Jane Alden

Linn talked about play and whether or not it was music. And firstly, I would like to say that it absolutely is all music, and music includes play […]

p. 111(109), Linn D

I also think that not knowing what to do, not knowing how to respond, was a very important part of doing things in the old days as well as now.

p. 111-112 (109-110), John Hails

I want to pick up on the idea of play as not to do with the real world. […] We need more play in the real world. […] The idea that we don't have, or feel we have, the permission […] to actually try things out means that we take the safe option. We go down the route we know will not land us on the street […] Beautiful things happen when you take risks.

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