Category: Popular Music

A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation

John Corbett on a new pocket-sized field guide to free and spontaneous music
John Corbett, A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
John Corbett, A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

What led you to write A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation?

I’ve been involved with improvised music from several different standpoints over the last 35 years, as a listener, as a critic, as a teacher, as a presenter, and as a producer.  In the process of moving around in the music’s netherworlds, I noticed that many potential listeners were curious about it but just had no way to enter, no accessible points of reference.  It’s sometimes seen as “difficult” or “complex,” and it can be both, but approaching free music is very different from listening to music composed using mathematical algorithms or with elaborate preconceived harmonic inventions.  To listen to it you basically need to be attentive.  That’s it.  But that’s also not easy.  Having some historical framework can help, and the more experience you have as a listener the better.  But it’s really open to new listeners, and I wanted to find a way, in as down to earth a way as possible, to suggest that openness.  To invite new listeners from other walks of music and to give a few tips on listening, things that might help get over the initial hump.   Read More

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The Art and Afterlife of Joy Division and New Order

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ince I’m unable to visit the True Faith exhibition running at Manchester Art Gallery, I am doing everything I can to experience it vicariously through the accounts of luckier folk. I discovered the music of Joy Division when I was sixteen, and found that it wasn’t just the songs that appealed to me, but the sparse beauty of Peter Saville‘s record sleeves. According to reports, the multimedia exhibition delivers a number of thrills, while offering a testament to the groups’ ongoing cultural legacy.Read More

True Faith Exhibition: Joy Division & New Order

Manchester Art Gallery • 30 June – 3 September 2017

Manchester Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition exploring the “ongoing significance and legacy” of Joy Division and New Order:

“Curated by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns, New York and author and film-maker Jon Savage with archivist Johan Kugelberg, True Faith is centred on four decades’ worth of extraordinary contemporary works from artists including Julian Schnabel, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Mark Leckey, Glenn Brown and Slater Bradley, all directly inspired by the two groups.”

The exhibition also includes Peter Saville’s distinctive cover designs, and work by figures including Jonathan Demme and Kathryn Bigelow. [Read More]