Zero is a festival devoted exclusively to experimental, improvised music.
term "experimental music" implies an intention
that is very different from the intentions of traditional, classical,
or pop music. Experimental music is first and foremost about the
exploration of possibilities--rather than the confirmation
of what is already known or well understood. This can mean radical
changes in the way that the sounds and structures of music are
conceived and perceived; or it can mean subtle additions to the
way music is made, played, and heard--giving old music a new life.
The result is a different, strange, and often beautiful music,
and sometimes experiences that raise the question "Is this
music at all?" (Even if I like it and WANT to hear more of
it?) The imagination is moved to the center stage, with the history
of music left behind.
is the practice of invention-on-the-spot in music, where the performer
"makes it up as he or she goes along." There are obviously many
rich traditions of improvised music, such as the different types of Jazz, Blues, Hindustani
Classical music, Flamenco, etc. It is worth mentioning that a large proportion of folk music traditions around the world have some components that are improvised. In these traditions, improvisation is often "the icing on the cake," a departure that animates or illuminates a well known form by controlled deviations.
In contrast to these known traditions, there
is also avant-garde music that is purely improvised, where
the invention takes place without any desire to locate it in an
existing style or tradition. This "free" music first
became a topic of conversation in the Sixties, when it was associated with both contemporary
experiments in Jazz and Modern Classical music, but has subsequently
come into its own as a permanent and inspired musical underground
(with far greater support in Europe than in the USA, incidentally).
This music has its own audience, but also draws interest from
Jazz enthusiasts interested in expressive or highly individual
playing, and also from people interested in the entire range of
the musical imagination (for instance, people interested in electronic,
ambient, and world music; and people interested in abstract art).
ZERO investigates many sides of experimental improvised music,
drawing on an amazing pool of talented younger players and several
important older figures from multiple musical subcultures. Though
some of these players are virtuosic musicians in established styles
(such as Jazz or Classical music) they are united in HIGH ZERO
by their commitment to the musical imagination first and foremost:
to music which challenges the limits and delights by its audacity,
expressiveness, immediacy, newness, and risk-taking. Many of the
players have very strong personal styles, and have developed extremely
unique music. Whether it is based around dramatic intensity, humor,
especially designed and built instruments, original use of electronics,
raw sound, or nearly superhuman instrumental technique, it is
all aligned with exploration and possibility. One and all, they
are "virtuosi of the spirit," and they must be seen
and heard to be believed. . . .
Experimental and improvised music in Baltimore are very vital
these days; if you want to get a sense of what is going on, check
out these sites:
list of links to general sites about experimental and improvised
music on the internet must necessarily be incomplete--it is a
huge subject with many subcultures and perspectives involved.
If you are new to the subject, to get you started, the following
are a few "meta" site lists that may be of interest
for people persuing the subject. Obviously, surf critically--not
all of it is true!!