36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 229: Group improv


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 229 — Group improv
18-March-1972 (Samstag–Sat.)


Kaufmann montage

Had a very good lesson this morning with Herr Gabler—3 lessons a week, talked, etc. I seemed to have progressed a lot but am never satisfied. Because I can never play, always, fairly good.

In electronic music had an excellent day. I even partook in the electronic music improvisation. After some improvisation, Ing. (Engineer) Gottwald began manipulating us (like instruments) and we began having fun and getting involved in what we were doing. For me personally, it had some of the best results (effect-wise) because we were being ourselves—we were the music.

Then we tried the grand experiment—3 separate improvisations in 3 separate rooms. Taking place simultaneously. It turned out great. Prejudiced opinion. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. For example, myself and friend (Austrian and newcomer) were in a hallway of the school (hall effect) and we were laughing, talking, questioning, moving benches around, etc. Then we were joined by a girl, Synne, and it turned out to be like a “group encounter.” We were all involved; serious but having fun. Can’t explain the feeling. I can’t believe some of the things we did and how much racket we were making. We also involved the “other” microphone. Great idea. We violated the rules of the game. All in all, I don’t know if it was music but it was a lot of fun. Good word is “musical theater.”

Afterwards, we made some recordings of my primitive works for the tape that I needed and the quality came out pretty good. Very satisfying day.

Saw 2 films from the film festival today. (1) Short film about the artist, M.C. Escher and perception. Fascinating. The camera work was very simple. Most of it was photography of pictures. Simple, but it works. (2) “Lions news (wars),” [uncertain title] a pop film about Hollywood. Had some interesting things. Not the most interesting total result, however, photography was nice.


Group vocal improvs. A long post today. In electronic music class, we spend most of the day doing group improvisations. You know that, normally, I don’t always like the results of group improvs. However, I seem to like these results. Improvisation sounds easy but it isn’t. The danger is that you end up getting “same sounding” music. Most of our improvisations, as a musique concrète class, primarily use vocal and “found sounds” as source material—making sounds with your mouth and any objects available. What is important to the result is the interaction of the participants in getting results. And you thought improvs were only for comedy shows.

Vocalization and live improvisation are trademarks of composer Dieter Kaufmann’s style, at that time. The opening photo shows composer Kaufmann as the young professor that I knew (left) and in recent years (right).

Chance improvisation. Here is an amazing idea. If you take people or small groups and place them in different rooms and allow them to improvise, the results are then modeled by “chance.” I am fairly certain that we did not have the ability to monitor each other. Probably we had a start-stop signal. Very interesting. I talked about John Cage and chance (aleatoric) music, a few days ago. See Day 222.

Sound engineer, Gottwald. I don’t mention him very often, but the electronic music class had an engineer—Herr Gottwald who would be present on these special occasions and kept the studio running. Today, he is the center of manipulation with other devices. I did find a list that mentions that the studio did have electronic devices, including filters, and ring modulators. We did not have a reverb, so we used the hallway (echo…echo…echo). Kudos to Ing. Gottwald.

Film festival. Film is on my mind again when I see a couple of avant-garde films. I like visual imagery and photography in both photography and film. My handwriting is terrible and I may not have the titles right, especially after a 36-year lapse.


Link to Dieter Kaufmann’s bio


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