by Gisbert Schürig

Working on minimal improvisation with different performers, we mostly depend on dialogue, exchanging our thoughts and reflections about processes we are working on. But in coming up with our conception, writing down six phases of minimal improvisation has been an important step. It serves as a point of reference as does the unfinished collection of actions within a musical field.

Lately I have been reading through ‘Behind Bars – The definitive guide to music notation’ by Elaine Gould. She offers an extensive volume on the art of writing scores for music and I have searched the chapters on ‘freedom and choice’ for ways to bring minimal improvisation into the form of a musical score. And while there are countless ways in western musical notation to define how some specific part has to be played, I did not find a way to write down the minimal improvisation process in this fashion.

Why write down a score when it´s about improvistion anyway?

I like the sharpness and the authority of a score, it says: ‘This is something’. That creates a certain clarity, a direction, qualities I love to see in the context of improvisation.

As I did not find a solution in Gould´s book, I came up with this sketch:

MInimal Improvisation Score 1

MInimal Improvisation Score 2

I used an empty square to stand in for ‘one element of unspecified qualities’ (except the maximum duration). Of course this is aimed at musicians with a background in western music notation and in that context, it may make some aspects more clear than the text score on the six phases.

But for musicians who are unfamiliar with this, it may be less accesible. Also, it very much applies to music, thus leaving out dancers.

So I made another attempt, utilizing symbols:

MInimal Improvisation 1

MInimal Improvisation 2

I´m curios to get feedback on this score, I guess this also needs some more work.
Stepping into a more visual approach towards minimal improvisation led me to this overview of the process:

MInimal Improvisation Process

This has the biggest aesthetic appeal to me, let´s see if it serves it´s purpose of conveying the concept of minimal improvisation to performers. Looking forward to the next rehearsals and showing at Unfinished Fridays.

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