Building on the notes I shared from my 1998 Circulation Project, Meeting #1 a few months back, here are the notes from the next meeting, #2.
As I prepare to launch Bleak Strategies (a new product designed to energize personal practice and improvised group work), it has been useful to look back on my notes from these meetings that happened seventeen years ago.
When I look back on these, and see the names of the participants, I’m amazed on multiple levels:
- that we have such a long and rich history of working together, and
- that we’re still just scratching the surface on this new means of improvised group music work that was initiated so long ago.
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Seattle Guitar Circle
1998 Circulation Project
Meeting #2: Transmission of Quality
Wednesday September 9th, 1998
Bob and Jaxie's House
8:00 - 9:00pm Circulation Meeting #2
Present for the Meeting:
- JT Milhoan
- Scott Adams
- Chris Gibson
- Steven Rhodes
- John Henning
- Jaxie Binder
- Brock Pytel
- Heather Pytel
- Curt Golden
- Steve Ball
- Frank Sheldon
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We began with a classic "free circulation" (no rules, no instructions), left to right
SECTION ONE: Exploration of Qualities
We began by circulating only the note "A" in any octave. We stayed on A so that we could focus on one particular attribute of the quality of the note we are passing rather than being distracted by harmonic decisions.
One at a time, we played circulations with a focus on each of these qualitative attributes:
• Dynamics (soft / loud)
• Pitch (high / low)
• Duration (short / long)
• Timbre (thumb / pick )
• Tone (bright / round)
During the (high / low ) circulation, we were asked to use our peripheral vision to see whether the person to our left was going to play a high or low note - our note was to be the same (high or low) as this persons.
We then were instructed to play a note which is higher in pitch than the note played by the person to our left. When we reached the point where we could go no higher, we began again at the bottom.
A leader was chosen to initiate a series of notes which emphasized one or more of the extremes of dynamics, pitch, duration, timbre, and tone, and the circle was asked to identify and propagate the same qualities of the note played by the leader.
SECTION TWO: Extremes of Physical Transmission
We experimented with six extremes of physical transmission:
- We exaggerated the gesture of passing of our note to the person to our right so that our entire bodies would turn and literally "deliver" our note to the person to our right.
- We were instructed to also transmit the "content" of our note by using our bodies and our faces in the process of passing the note.
- We then made direct eye contact with the person to our right as we passed the note.
- We also accepted the note coming from the left with direct eye contact before passing the note on with direct eye contact.
- We were then asked to adopt our very best Guitar Craft face while being completely still, facing forward during the circulation.
- Same as 5 with our eyes closed, completely still, no movement.
We were then asked to find a balance between each of these #1-#5.
SECTION THREE: Group Qualities
1. Conversation - we were asked to play a circulation as if we were having a conversation.
2. Story - we were asked to play a circulation as if the circulation were telling a story.
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Next Saturday, we will quickly review our work to date, and expand upon this basic work with the "Transmission of Quality." We will continue working with the performance techniques known as "Group Loops" and "Follow the Leader".
The California Guitar Trio will join us for the second half of the meeting.
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