Here are some notes about my Collectives project from a few years ago:
Guitarist and composer Dave Eichenberger has completed a unique project called Collectives. Simply put, this collection consists of 50 CDs which each hold an hour of improvisation. Each CD is completely unique, and has its own artwork as well as date and time of creation.
Each CD also contains a multimedia section which features over an hour of bonus audio, a video, artwork, and an extensive journal documenting the project.
The opening for this 50 CD series was on Friday November 3rd, 2006, at the Progress Energy Art Gallery in New Port Richey.
“The idea of improvising for an hour straight might be considered a silly one, until we consider doing that 49 more times afterwards,” states Dave. “I thought of the discipline of a visual artist, who might sell a painting but not make prints- the artist lets go, and the lucky fan has something that is uniquely theirs.”
The CDs contain improvisations consisting of guitar, guitar synthesizer, and looping. Looping is a process of recording segments of sound, and repeating them, while adding to them and manipulating them in real-time.
And if I thought it had been done this way before, I probably wouldn’t have tried.
Releasing 50 hours of music at once is something I did in my younger days, when I didn’t care that you weren’t supposed to do that. I recorded on a minidisc, released them on tape, and sold them at live performances. I used these recordings to learn about my instrument, my looping devices, and how to structure an hour-long improvisation.
So why do it again?
Well, its been awhile, more than 10 years since I have attempted such a thing. I think the purpose was the same: to test the bounds of creativity, and to learn more about the equipment I use to make this music.
I will tell you this…I am no longer afraid to start pushing buttons during a performance.
But why ‘Collectives’? What do all these crazy names mean?
Honestly, I have always liked words. I like strange words you usually have to explain. I never thought ‘The Troubling of Goldfish’ should sound like goldfish, although I am suprised at how sometimes the names reflected parts of the recordings. Generally, the songs were recorded, and the names added later. I didn’t think the name or sound of an animal should steer me in a dparticular direction musically.
These new recordings were more labor-intensive, better quality, and more rewarding in the end.
When an artist uses up their stock ideas, what is left? I didn’t know, but I wanted to find out. It could be just reassembling those idea in a different order, or it could be some new ideas altogether. I worked really hard to not just change the order of my ideas. I did lots of research, learned new chords, scales, and all that music theory stuff all musicians should be drawing upon. I listened to a lot of different music, and forced myself to not play the same patterns I had been playing.
In the creative visual art world, the artist isn’t as concerned for ‘making it big’. There is much creativity, and, with the end expectation level lowered, they dream up wild ideas and regularly make them a reality.
In the music world, we have access to more people. Sadly, more people can ‘get’ music before they understand visual art. However, the expectation level is high, and we musicians are constantly compared to our peers, and usually are asked ‘Do you sound like anything I have heard before?’.
Being a musician, I really dislike being in this situation. If I stay true to myself and play what I like, I risk a life of obtuse obscurity. If I play what they want me to play, I get the love, the chicks, the money. I have jumped between both worlds, and I have to say, I’d rather keep my soul.
Playing improvised music that has really no base in modern rock, blues or jazz (but is certainly modern, being that it couldn’t have been made 15 years ago) presents many challanges to this musician. Describing what I do is hard enough, much less finding a venue for it. But I’ve always had hope.
I know there is a huge gap between ‘rock star’ and ‘lazy musician’ and I am determined to live between that world of fake opulence and drama-laden despair. Outlets for all types of music are out there, it just takes a little more digging to find them.
Guitarists, especially, tend to play in patterns. They might move the patterns up and down the neck, but they are the same. I find myself doing this all the time. This leads to boredom, and a really unsatisfying creative life.
And in the end? I have to say I feel like a better musician after all of this. I also made a terrible racket, and had a lot of fun.
Monday, Oct 9, 2006
The names of the CDs are taken for the name of groups of animals.
“It apparently isn’t good enough in the English language to say ‘a group of goldfish’. The proper term is ‘A Troubling of Goldfish’. Yes, I had to look all 50 of these terms up too,” says Dave.
List of Collectives CDs:
1. The Troubling of Goldfish
2. A Lovliness of Ladybugs
3. An Array of Hedgehogs
4. The Exaltation of Larks
5. A Kettle of Hawks
6. A Cete of Badgers
7. The Seige of Herons
8. A Blessing of Unicorns
9. A Convocation of Eagles
10. A Quiver of Cobras
11. The Deceit of Lapwings
12. The Flamboyance of Flamingoes
13. The Business of Ferrets
14. A Rookery of Seals
15. A Cowardice of Curs
16. The Wisdom of Owls
17. A Smack of Jellyfish
18. A Confusion of Weasels
19. The Richness of Martens
20. The Sloth of Bears
21. The Unkindness of Ravens
22. A Mob of Emus
23. A Raft of Otters
24. A Mutation of Thrushes
25. The Shiver of Sharks
26. The Mustering of Storks
27. A Leash of Greyhounds
28. The Labour of Moles
29. The Scurry of Squirrels
30. The Pitying of Turtle Doves
31. A Prickle of Porcupines
32. A Flutter of Butterflies
33. A Pounce of Cats
34. The Cry of Hounds
35. A Brace of Quail
36. The Pladge of Wasps
37. A Bale of Turtles
38. A Grist of Bees
39. The Charm of Goldfinches
40. The Scold of Jays
41. A Gulp of Magpies
42. The Skulk of Foxes
43. A Steam of Minnows
44. A Pandemonium of Parrots
45. The Obstinancy of Buffalo
46. The Paddling of Ducks
47. The Rhumba of Rattlesnakes
48. The Lamentation of Swans
49. A Battery of Barracudas
50. A Husk of Hares
The Collectives Project was proud to be sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.