I’m excited to see Tim Daisy’s band play on Friday because I have always loved to watch people incorporate improvisations into their performance. Probably this is because I can’t do it myself. Well, I’m not sure if I can’t, but I can never think of anything to play when the opportunity presents itself. Improvisation is random and unprepared; it’s like a musical stream of consciousness. In a sense, it goes against Cage’s idea of having music written beforehand and then performing, but in a sense it also follows Cage’s idea of chance operation. The musician may not roll a die and specifically follow all of the chance operation processes, but the musician is leaving it up to chance when he plays whatever sounds come to mind.
When we watched Sun Ra’s performance, I couldn’t really tell what was improvisation and what was composed and practiced because it all was a big jumble of noise. Even though I heard it as a loud jumble, when I concentrated my focus on individual noises I thought of something interesting. To me, it sounds as if Sun Ra’s music is a large jumble of the unknown, as is space. We don’t exactly know what’s out there, but we know that it’s packed with a lot of different “stuff”. The music of Sun Ra contains several different instruments in his arkestra which could be symbolically the “stuff” in space. When you pick out each instrument or sound in the music, you find that each seems to express a different story or emotion that is unknown to the listener. The listener is interested because the music carries a sort of mystery in that it seems odd or foreign to the ear. This similar to space in that each object is unique and there are many fascinating details about space objects that we do not fully understand yet. People take an interest in space because of our unfamiliarity; it perks the curious mind.
Whether it’s improvisation or composed, I have respect for any musician who will walk the line and express themselves through the sounds of music.