On the 10th of November 2008 I had the great pleasure to meet io.
She seemed a rather calm, clandestine creature, not saying much… not moving much, in fact not engaging with me much at all. However, she appeared to be a ‘saxophonistic’ persona – shiny, slightly shimmering in the sunlit surroundings.
But who is io? What does she sound like? How would she react to me? Would she respond? Would she challenge me (musically, that is). In other words, would she adopt sensitively to changes, make creative contributions and develop musical ideas suggested by me?
All sorts of questions went through my head before I even had played a note.
I was not told much about io in advance, in order to engage with her without any preconceptions.
I played and I listened…. io’s steady, breathy and rather regular sighs reminded me of a machinic engagement I had in 2000 when working on a piece entitled “Aquas Liberas”. That piece was based on recordings made in the Águas Livres Aqueduct, in Lisbon/Portugal. I had visited several machine rooms where water was pumped across pipes and the breathy machinic air sounds from the Lisbon site were reminiscent of io’s, at times, dis-engaged, de-contextualised replies.
I stopped. We talked. I played again and listened. I had found out a bit more about io and the next time I tried to ‘please’ her. I tried to soothe her into a calm, less hasty, more spacious musical dialogue. We engaged a little better.
I stopped. We talked. I played again. I wanted her to listen. This time she would need to be ‘with’ me. If the musical ideas dried up and we needed to stop she would need to listen. But she ignored me. The musical journey seemed to come to a halt (from my point of listening).
io carried on. I went along, trying to get her to conclude, to find a musical ending. io carried on. Why won’t she listen? Why won’t she acknowledge that we need to finish? io carried on. No surprises. No quest for anything new. No fresh ideas. No aspirations. No ending…
Improvisation, as George Lewis notes, shall become “not so much a practice, but an aspiration toward freedom…” …
with io there is not yet in sight this “dangerous hybrid formed by agency and indeterminacy whose ultimate outcome is a continuous transformation of both Other and Self” (Lewis, 2007:Parallax, p.120).
io, we will meet again. I will transform you. You will transform me. Maybe.