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Peter Scherr
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Creative Music in China

Creative Music in China: a few words of explanation.                       By Peter Scherr

 

Creative Music is a handy phrase that I use to describe the musical projects that I am working on. It is general enough to encompass a wide variety of styles, yet emphasizes creativity, and the mind-set of an artistic endeavor. Within this broad category, I do have some specific interests, which will usually be present.

I prefer to avoid direct stylistic descrīptions like “Rock”, or “Jazz” or “Folk” because first of all, they do not accurately describe what I am trying to do, and secondly, because they can lead to restrictive expectations on the part of the audience. Yes, my music may contain elements from these music’s, but there is always an exploration of some area that is relatively unfamiliar to me. That is the reason for all of my projects. I want to find out more about something that is exciting and interesting to me –something that I may not understand at all, or may not fully understand.

I love exploring rhythm, so there is always a strong rhythmic element. I often build each project around a unique rhythm section, which gives a strong character right from the beginning. This generally is taken care of by the choice of drummer, since I play bass, which is a rhythm section instrument. But in the case of Zhu Fang Qiong, it is his rhythmic concept as a singer, player of stringed instruments, and percussion.

Another great example of this would be the selection of the drummer Jim Black for my band “Headache,” or Simon Barker for “Jazz Folk”. Both of these musicians have something absolutely unique, and when I first heard them, I was at once attracted and extremely excited by what they were doing, and also I had absolutely no idea how what they were doing worked. I had the sense that once I played with Jim, once I spent some time playing with Simon, certain things would become somewhat clearer to me. It’s not something that I can explain very well, but I really feel that it is true. It is an experiential thing.

With Jim, it is a certain kind of forward motion, and a feeling that no matter what you play, if you play it with conviction (not necessarily loud, but you have to “mean it”), it will sound good. He gives musicians an infinite number of “points of entry” when he plays. You can come in anywhere, and it will work… plus his concept of sound is so unique.

With Simon, just watching him play is very interesting. He sits at the drums in a unique way, approaches the kit with a very unusual posture. Once I got to know Simon a little bit, I started hearing about his interest in Korean Shamanistic music, and how he had spent a good part of the last 15 years going to Korea and seeking out Shaman musicians and trying to absorb their culture. Now, 15 years is a long time, and everything that Simon plays has a little bit of this Korean Shamanistic music in it. But he is a western musician, plays western drum kit, and it is not a simple pastiche of Korean musical tropes. It is a very deep integration.

Also in each project, there is a musical focus. I will either want to present someone’s musical ideas, like in the case of Joe Rosenberg, or Zhu FangQiong. In other projects, I will write the music myself. In Jazz Folk, we share the writing duties (and actually primarily play the music of established songwriters), and I am trying to organize another band with musicians from Southern China right now, where the writing of the music is shared.

Again, the choice is almost always something that interests me -that I don’t fully understand. Joe Rosenberg’s music is a perfect example. He always surprises me with the compositions that he brings. Initially, his music seemed to be steeped in an Anthony Braxton influence, and there were some references to contemporary Western Art Music practices. But more recently, each piece seems to be a set of strategies that is perfectly tailored to the unique skills and limitations of the musicians in the band. Also, he is always thinking about Indian musical culture, and Indonesian musical culture. Again, these aspects are never presented directly.

So I have several of these projects, and the problem that always comes up is how to build an audience for music that is so diverse. I like to focus on the fact that these are lively performances, and there is a lot of color, with such strong personalities in the bands. It is not necessary to have a technical understanding of the music, when you have a maniac like Edward Perraud at the drums. He is really as much a sorcerer and a magician as he is a drummer. If you watch him, you will definitely get a good show.

Another important aspect is the choice of venue and city. My music is best heard in places other than clubs or bars. I have had some success playing in club situations, of course, but when you get into a small theatre, or art gallery, the atmosphere is more conducive to an exploratory listening and viewing experience. People are ready to hear something for the first time. A notable exception to this would be some of the music houses in Beijing, where it seems to be fine to play just about any style of music. But for sure, it is best to try and avoid the “Jazz Club” syndrome. My music is almost always a little frustrating to a typical Jazz audience.

Which brings me naturally to the next question, which is: why China? Why do Creative Music in China? Well first of all, because I live here, and I am determined to pursue my creativity in music, and crucially, because many audiences in China are uniquely prepared to hear something new. The most exciting performances I have ever had have been in China. As opposed to Hong Kong, where it is very difficult (but not impossible) to get audiences excited about Creative Music. In the mainland, it seems that people are hungry for it. And among the young, educated and artistically inclined, there is an uncanny sophistication and familiarity with the cutting edge, particularly in some cities that I have experienced like Guangzhou, ChongQing and Beijing. There are still so many places to explore. I hope that I get a chance to play in Shangxi, and Yunnan, and the city of Dalian. I heard an incredible band from Dalian a few weeks ago. Wang Wen.

Bringing projects to China from overseas is a financial challenge, to say the least, so I am changing my focus a little bit. It’s a great opportunity to make a serious effort to find out about the incredible talent and different musical cultures within China. I’ll be doing some traveling in China over the next years to try and meet musicians that might be interested in collaboration. That will be something for me to ponder, delight in and misconstrue for years to come.

 

www.peterscherr.com

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中国的创意音乐:言简意赅作者:Peter Scherr

 

我常将手头的音乐项目称为创意音乐,这种说法简单明了,内涵丰富。创作一般涵盖多种音乐风格,突出创意及艺术创作的理念。在风格多样的音乐门类中,我有自己特别的兴趣所在,常在音乐作品中予以表现。

我尽量避免用“摇滚”、“爵士”或“民谣”等较为直接的字眼说明风格,原因在于,首先,这些字眼不能准确说明我目前的创作,其次,这些字眼会局限观众的预期。我的音乐包含各种音乐风格的元素,但其中也包括对我较为陌生的音乐风格的探索。这是我进行音乐创作的原因。我希望了解更多能令我倍感兴奋且兴趣十足的音乐-可能是我根本无法理解,或无法完全理解的音乐。

我热衷于尝试各种节奏,作品中常有鲜明的节奏元素。我常以特定节奏为基础进行创作,使作品一开始便具有突出的特点。由于我是贝斯手,一般由选择鼓手决定作品的节奏。而朱芳琼则通过演唱、弹奏弦乐器和打击乐器表现自己的节奏理念。

另一个很典型的实例是,选择Jim Black担任乐队“Headache”的鼓手,或Simon Barker担任“Jazz Folk”的鼓手。这两位乐手都有自己与众不同的特色,第一次听他们演奏时,我立即被深深吸引,对他们的演奏风格倍感兴奋,我根本想不到他们是怎样实现这种演奏方式的。我强烈感觉到,只要有机会与Jim和Simon共同演奏,我一定会找到自己的创作方向。这种感觉我很难说清楚,但确实存在。这完全是凭经验作出的判断。

Jim充满激情,让我感到,无论他演奏什么音乐,只要全情投入(音量不必很大,但一定要投入),都十分悦耳。他演奏时,为其他乐手创造了丰富的“切入点”。你可随时插入演奏,效果都十分出色……他的乐感独具特色。

至于Simon,单是观赏他演奏已经趣味十足。他用独特的方式坐在鼓旁,用非比寻常的姿态击鼓。与Simon结识一段时间后,我了解到他对韩国萨满教音乐的兴趣,他曾在韩国生活15年,拜访萨满音乐家,努力学习萨满文化。15年是漫长的时间,现在,Simon的所有演奏都多少带有韩国萨满音乐的元素。但他是西方乐手,演奏西式架子鼓,并非单纯模范韩国音乐。他将东西方音乐特点深度融合。

我的各项创作均以音乐为核心。我希望表现他人的音乐理念,如Joe Rosenberg或朱芳琼。在其它音乐项目中,我会自己作曲。在Jazz Folk乐队,我们共同创作,目前,我正努力将来自中国南方的乐手组成乐队,共同创作音乐。

我始终对选择兴趣浓厚-我自己也搞不清楚其中的原因。Joe Rosenberg的音乐是很好的例子。他的作曲常令我喜出望外。一开始,他的音乐深受Anthony Braxton的影响,有些创作参考当代西方艺术音乐风格。但他近期的作品自成体系,与乐队乐手的独特技巧和个人极限完美契合。他对印度音乐文化和印尼音乐文化兴趣浓厚。但这些特点从未在音乐创作中直接表现。

我的工作包括多项此类音乐项目,问题总是集中于如何为这种多元化音乐风格赢得观众。我着力突出乐队生动的表演形式,色彩斑斓,每个乐手都有鲜明的特点。乐队中有Edward Perraud这样的癫狂乐手击鼓,对音乐的技术理解已经不再重要。他的表演仿佛将足球运动员、魔术师和鼓手的角色融为一体。只要观看他表演,你定会赞叹不已。

演出场地和城市的选择是另一重要方面。在夜总会或酒吧以外的地点演出,我的音乐效果更佳。当然,在夜总会也曾成功演出,但如果在小剧场或画廊观看,现场氛围更有助于观众获得美好的视听体验。很多观众都期望听到前所未有的音乐。部分北京音乐厅对此类演出的期望较高,那里的演出场地适合演奏各种风格的音乐。但勿庸置疑的是,最好努力避免出现“爵士乐夜总会”综合症。对于典型的爵士乐观众而言,我的音乐会令他们感到失望。

这自然引出下一个问题,即:为何选择中国?为何在中国表演创意音乐?原因在于,首先,我生活在中国,我决心追逐我的音乐创意梦想,更为重要的是,大量中国观众对新音乐形式情有独衷。所有演出中,最令我兴奋的演出就是在中国举行的。这与香港截然不同,香港观众很难(但并非不可能)对创意音乐产生热情。在中国大陆,观众对创意音乐的喜爱则如饥似渴。这些年轻、受过良好教育且喜爱艺术的观众对前卫艺术形式兴趣浓厚且了解丰富,我曾去过的广州、重庆和北京等城市尤其如此。还有更多的城市等待我们了解。我希望能有机会在陕西、云南和大连演出。几周前,我曾听到大连惘闻乐队的音乐,令人赞叹。

将音乐项目由海外发展至中国还存在经济方面的挑战,因此,我略微改变了自己工作重点。这是一次很好的机会,有助于我们深入了解中国的非凡人才和与众不同的音乐文化。将来我会常到中国旅行,与有兴趣合作的音乐人会面。这将是我在来年思考、享受和感悟的主要内容。

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about 11 years ago 0 likes  1 comments  0 shares
Photo 98004
Jim Black? Good choice. I saw him perform with Bloodcount. Joe Rosenberg I think I remember from a Coleman-tribute-gig with Dewey Redman. Both I like very much. Wish I could hear some of this. Sigh. I don't buy CDs - I go concerts (where I do buy CDs - but hardly ever listen to them later. So, that doesn't count.). Another difficulty is the electric guitar. I try. But some sounds? First make me nervous, then aggressive and finally give me a migraine-size headache. In 1994, in Berlin, Nguyen Le put me to bed for two days. Don't laugh! Still, I wish I could at least give some of your projects a listening try ...
about 11 years ago

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...bringing Creative Music to China

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Languages Spoken
english, cantonese
Location (City, Country)
Hong Kong
Gender
male
Member Since
July 27, 2007