Various writings by N.O. Moore, on an ad hoc basis, about music and other interests.


Improvised music – why bother? 02

One of the things I like about improvised music is that it does not try to elicit a specific response or feeling.  I think most other types of music do have some sort of purpose in terms of producing an emotional tonality or an appropriate context for ritualistic activity.  I like them too; but improvisation is the music that best stands apart from its own form and purpose and, in performance, is capable of continuously commenting on these.  In this sense, improvisation has the potential to constantly abstract out from itself (but without the resultant music being – when the improvisation is successful – ‘abstract music’).   This suggests that whilst improvised music has at its disposal the full gamut of human emotional responses, it does not rely upon these.  Or rather, that these responses do not explain improvised music’s existence and practice.  For me, what this boils down to is that improvised music is not primarily concerned to manipulate the responses of the listener, nor of the performer.  This is one of the things that makes it different from other types of music.



When I was young, we lived on a large council estate.  Then – and probably now – the estate had a reputation as being a ‘rough’ one.  But when you are a kid, you don’t know about that, and the world is simply a place of wonder and threat.  My parents seemed happy enough then.  A good thing about those houses was that they had large gardens front and back.  As our house was end of terrace, the garden was even bigger, stretching around the side.  I remember when I was about 5 or 6, on a sunny but windy day, lying in the garden listening to the wind in the trees.  That sound induced a feeling of deep dread and emptiness in me but, as I lay there, the sound became enveloping and comforting.  That’s the first time I can remember experiencing the absence inside of what exists … and gladly that sound still reaches me today. 


Improvised music – why bother? 01

Something Luciana Parisi wrote in Contagious Architecture (2013) could be adapted to apply to improvised music:

“[Improvised musics] are no longer designed according to exact coordinates – points in space – but are complex curved surfaces, the slight variation of which cannot be controlled in advance.  Hence [improvised music] is determined by an unlimited number of variations occurring through time, and is enfolded into an environment of differential relations, speeds, and intensities.  From this standpoint, [improvised music] is always more than one and less than many.” (p.46)

The risk of pretension should always be taken so, in my own words: improvised music proves that something always remains unprovable.

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