I’m planning the Stick concerts of 2024 now by making this 40-minute video with excerpts from 2023’s repertoire. I have been booked a lot to play in churches and I think the natural acoustics of these grande halls work exceptionally well for this moody music.
A rough clip from my Oct 16 2011 concert at Santa Cruz International Live Looping Festival. Starting out with a basic sound-check I more info
kept on improvising to make up a 9:00 minutes piece of music. SG12 Stick Guitar with Roland GR55 synth and my home-built “meta instrument” of interactive electronics.
This album is a live recording of a musical duo improvisation session that took place in Rome on June 5 2009. Fabio Anile plays the Piano and the Synthesizer and Per Boysen plays the Alto Flute and the EWI (Electric Wind Instrument). Both musicians simultaneously play also interactive electronics, particularly utilizing the technique known as Live Looping.
Exceptions are two tracks that were recorded later as a studio based long distance collaboration: Counterpoint (4) where Per plays the Chapman Stick and Bird’s View (7) where Per plays the Electric Guitar while Fabio doubles on Shakers, the Cajun and the Thelevi.
Mixing and Mastering: Per Boysen
Album and track artwork by Fabio Anile.
Unexpected is digitally distributed all over the Internet, but I would advice anyone to check it out at Bandcamp because that’s the only digi music web shop I know of that allows specific artwork for each song of the albums.
The better you become at “improvising” the more you realize there is no such thing as “free improvisation”. Since music is a form of communication the best improvisations are those where the player succeeds in applying gestures that draw on rules known to the listener. Such gestures and rules can be timbre, direction in movement or plain music harmony theory.
I am especially excited by multi lateral improvisation, as I call it when a player improvises many musical parts at the same time – as opposed to simply improvising a melody over a given background. In this performance I use live looping, which means I record phrases I play and then keep changing those recordings while playing an additional part. So there is no “lead” and no “background” part of this improvisation. I do not play melodies and improvise chords to back melody up, nor do I play chords and improvise melodies that fit in. I invent all parts of the music at once. This is not “free improvisation” because in order to sound like some sort of music, although weird, everything has to relate to some common ground. The common ground in this particular performance is parallel transposition of minor chords. In this case using only the tonica, first, second fourth and sixth position transposition diminishes the palette further and creates a musical universe where almost anything can be played and still turn out harmonic.
The looping technique used here is to start out by playing an instrument and recording it as a very long loop. Careful to initially play only notes that will work harmonically even if transposed (thinking not only about actual sound here but also about what scales any given future transposition of the recorded loop may imply). So as lungs go empty of air I close the loop and it starts repeating. Now I use foot pedals to shift speed/pitch of this long loop into different intervals while I play along. Manipulating transposition of the recorded loop is one orchestral element and my live instrument is a second – both elements are parts of the same improvisation. This is a simple technical praxis of what I call multi lateral improvisation. If transposing a musical part in minor you get totally different harmonic scale options for your playing compared to transposing a musical part in major. It can easily become too complex to sound interesting so the challenge is, in my opinion, to find themes and refine them.
Composers use similar theoretical rules to create scores, but to me in this moment of time it is more fun to work out techniques that allow you to do it all at once in sound!
Since publishing I have received some questions on what software were used in this performance, so here we go: Mainstage by Apple is the “effect rack”, “mixer” and “patchbay”. Inside Mainstage I am running the AU plugin version of the looper Mobius. As soon as the first loop is recorded Mobius calculates the musical tempo I am playing in and sends out MIDI Clock which Mainstage adapts its tempo to. This makes tempo dependent effects follow my playing/live looping. Maybe I should also mention that the video doesn’t cover the extensive foot work done to simultaneously play Mobius from a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI pedal board. There are almost as many looping commands happening as there are notes played in this performance.
The audio sensitive live graphics are simply the iTunes Visualizer
This is the first improvised session, from the “Anteprima” of the “First International Live Looping Festival – in Rome”, that took place on the 6th june 2009 www.livelooping.it
This recording was taken in Florence on the 3th june 2009, at the “Anfiteatro dell’Anconella”.
Rick Walker (USA)
Per Boysen (SE)
Fabio Anile (IT)
Sjaak Overgaauw (BE)
Koan Loop Ensemble (IT) (Massimo Liverani, Massimo Fantoni, Claudio Canaccini, Fabio Capanni, Fabrizio Orrigo)
One night in Mars 2009 I met up with these two guys to play a completely improvised concert together. They had been playing together before, but not with me, so I was excited not to know whatever to expect on stage. It turned out great fun though and someone was even recording it.
We’d like to share these seven pieces that were born on stage that night:
[audio:unitrack4a.mp3,unitrack3a.mp3,unitrack3b.mp3,unitrack3c.mp3,unitrack3d.mp3,unitrack3e.mp3,unitrack3f.mp3|titles=Improvisation 1,Improvisation 2,Improvisation 3,Improvisation 4,Improvisation 5,Improvisation 6,Improvisation 7|artists=Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen]
Kristofer Johansson: cajon, snare drum and other percussive objects.
Niclas Höglind: 8-stringed guitar, Apple Mainstage laptop.
Per Boysen: fretless guitar, alto flute, EWI, Apple Mainstage laptop.
An interesting aspect of this group improvisation is that we were instantly recording ourselves and arranging this live looping to go with the bands playing. This was done with MIDI foot pedals and the live looping software Mobius.
Niclas and Kristofer are also active with Unit.
Clinics hold in Swedish – concerts in Bb. Pre booking, please see poster below:
Livelooping is enormously fun – You can do it too!
Livelooping is about creating, juggling with and reworking loops to create complex music on-the-fly, normally without using prerecorded material. This is not the same as the static loops typically heard in the background of some contemporary music. Livelooping is more like standing by the edge of a huge canyon and sing back to your own echo. Then you take it one step further by catching the echoes and rework them to create a building of music. While doing that you stay on top of the roof and keep on playing to create new material for the next floor. The building grows, changes, falls apart and grows back into different directions…
In order to start livelooping
you need at least one loop based real-time sampler, or software loopers in a computer. By controlling recording, looping and editing with your feet you will keep your hands free to play instruments that provide the raw sound material for looping.
A new way of listening
For an audience a livelooping concert can be an incredibly inspiring experience. You are not presented a finished artwork that is locked into its composed form. Instead, you are able to follow in detail how each musician is adding his parts to the music – note after note, loop after loop. It is like an instantly evolving ritual of magic that never repeats itself.
I think livelooping can bridge the gap between composer, director, DJ, musician and remix artist. It is a true crossover technique and a meta instrument that can ultimately free your creativity!