Re: freewriting

Michael J. Salvo (
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 10:19:23 -0600

on the subject of jazz improvisation:

i am no musician, but i am a young fan of jazz trying to learn some of the
nuances of its improvisational heritage (as well as its slippage into
composition). MER very adeptly points out, though, based on his own
experience as a jazz guitarist, that the process of formal jazz learning is
not just "fun" but has its own elements of tedium.

i followed MER around after his presentation for a while in logan, and as he
spoke about the process of learning jazz "standards" it was clear that one
must reach a certain level of expertise before one was encouraged to
improvise. transcribing others' improvisations, endless hours getting
performances "right," *plus* learning immitations, then moving on to

what i find so interesting in this model is the devotion individual
musicians have for the repetitious skill-based practice of scale playing and
transcription of performances. seems to be skills and drills involved in
jazz too. and i wonder if this model works as well after careful
consideration for writing -- seems more like a creative writing model, where
genius is studies, deconstructed, then reconstructed in order to produce
more genius.

i'm concerned we take too easily an image of improvisation without
understanding the layers of process and hard work that are built into what
an audience only sees as a "great improvisation." there are years of work
behind that performance; do we mystify the process if we don't share the
story of the long term struggle?

perhaps MER and our other jazz-educated colleagues will share more on this
topic. i thought, at one point, that i understood the jazz/composition
metaphor fairly well, but i am no longer so sure.

mike, listening to another version of 'cherokee'

At 09:43 AM 7/25/96 -0600, Albert Rouzie wrote:
> Mer's jazz image gives us a
>play/improvisation metaphor suitable to the list's improvised mesh and it
>raises other terms, like bricolage, with the similar sense of improvisatory
>flair for constructing emanings out of whatever materials are at hand or
>eye. I think we need to explore the idea of pleasure in writing,