“Very often you find... You anticipate. And it is almost as if there's another kind of listening that's going on. It’s a listening that somehow can sense the way the music is going and wants to enrich that, or wants to actually divert it – or to stop it, even. And that is part of the processes you use when you play this music.”1
Dull transportation in improvised music really kills my interest – aimless and pointless contributions motivated by fear of silence, or totally lacking direction, always end up turning me off.
One of my strategies to try to prevent this in the ensembles, is that I consciously anticipate musical material. I prepare for something to take over when what’s present disappears. If it disappears. Eventually it will. I often find myself doing this if I have a notion that one part is reaching its peak. Perhaps it has lasted long enough, or I simply feel a desire for change, or I just had enough of what I have been playing, or I find myself stuck or busy doing something that does not respond that well on that exact occasion.
This is just as much a habit (sometimes also a bad one) of mine as it is a conscious, well-considered idea.2 I have simply discovered that I often do this. And when it works, when this patience after some waiting time actually triggers something different to emerge out of what has been, it can eliminate some of the dull transportation and transition into the next idea.
1 Eddie Prevost in Phil Hopkins: Amplified Gesture, an introduction to free improvisation: practitioners and their philosophy. DVD published by samadhisound llc (©2011)
2 It can also be a result of pure pragmatism. Let’s say I find myself in a situation where I have just picked up the bow and moved it towards the banjo… with the intention of playing with the bow… on the banjo… (it takes a lot of time to put down the guitar, pick up the banjo and the bow, inaudibly, and without causing too much fuzz on stage)… and in a split second of uncertainty I may have lost the timing, somehow. Or the attention. The motivation for playing the bow has disappeared. Or worse, the others have moved to something else, or I can hear that the music is moving away from where I originally figured a certain bowed banjo material would be a good idea. Either way, it is too late. At least that is what I could be thinking in that moment. I believe it can be so.
So, I could simply wait for a new impulse, or for the “right” time. Or I could simply put down the bow. Or, I could just accept that what I am doing is almost inaudible, and continue to anticipate the next part.