Obviously Mary Prescott.

Today I had dinner over at Erich and Shelly's, and of course, told them about this new project.  Erich was pretty excited for me, because he too is a classical musician that gets that same itch that I get about wanting to expand my musical horizons.  At some point the question came up about, well, how do I begin an improv?  Am I thinking about adhering to a harmonic structure, or do I start with an idea of what I'm going to play?  My first instinct was to say that since I know nothing, I just go for it.  But when I thought about the kinds of things that I've been putting on here, I think that probably I do have a few concepts rolling around from time to time.  Today, for instance, after futzing around with my first improv, I got into a kind of Bartok groove.  I didn't mean to get there, but once I got there, the following few improvs were all based on that.  And for whatever reason, in the back of my head I've been telling myself to try something new for each of these days.

It's been that way with the postings, too.  I wasn't really aware of it until two or three days ago, when I had some improv that I really liked, but it was very similar to stuff I had put on before, so I chose something else for the blog.

This leads me into a question that is probably a big one for many improvisors.  How do you recognize your personal voice, and how do you develop it?  Is it something that needs to be consciously developed, or does it just happen?  And am I ignoring it when I push myself into a different zone?  I think that it's possible for musicians to be very good at many different styles, but there has to be a point where you're playing something that is uniquely you. That thing that when people listen to your recordings without seeing the label, they say, "Oh, yeah.  Obviously Mary Prescott.  Do you hear how she does this and that, and then in this later part goes the other thing... That is so Prescott, right there."  I mean, nobody does that with my recordings except for me, but music nerds have been known to carry on lengthy conversations like this.

I had written something about classical vs. improv in this arena, but it's getting too tedious to delve into.  Every time I write these, I open up a giant can of worms, which I'm happy to get into, but it takes a really long time to write about.  So, let's leave it with those questions of personal voice.  And onto a related tangent...

Jesse had mentioned to Akiko that when he starts a free improv, he consciously tries NOT to adhere to a harmonic plan.  This is the same Jesse that inspired this project.  Then, the other day I was chatting with Mike, who is a phenomenal multi-genre cellist, and he was saying that almost no one goes into improv without some sort of plan.  And then we proceeded to get into the kinds of plans that one can have.  I know that they're both right.  I think I lean Jesse's way, but I suspect a good way to develop improv chops is to explore guidelines.

So I feel like I'm in a really good position right now: standing in front of a bunch of doors, and allowed to peek through any or all of them.  The next question is, do I walk through a door that I like and hang out a while, study the flora and fauna?  Or do I keep peeking into different worlds before settling down on any of them?  I guess both?

Here we go, Day 9:  https://ia600707.us.archive.org/26/items/Improv82311/Memo-12.mp3https://ia600707.us.archive.org/26/items/Improv82311/Memo-12.mp3

And today's photo, to entice the more visually oriented.  Because who doesn't love a cute kitten photo?