Official Artist
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.




中国的创意音乐:言简意赅作者:Peter Scherr





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。



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。






almost 11 years ago 0 likes  1 comments  0 shares
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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 ...
almost 11 years ago


...bringing Creative Music to China

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