Research Seminar: Prof Frank Millward

Prof Frank Millward

Improvising with Technology – building the virtual Museum of Hope

Improvisation is sometimes referred to as real-time composition. Composers and musicians often use improvisation as the starting point for the development of their works. These days mobile recording technologies make it easy to capture high quality environmental sounds. These sounds when organised to form a rich database of sonic categories, can be arranged to form modalities or languages to use as materials for improvisation.

The discussion here will focus on the origins and development of processes and practices used in the making of the Album, The Museum of Hope, a site-reactive work set in Brooklyn and Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, Australia. Environmental site recordings made over the two-year period (2017 and 2018) in that place, formed a database that was used in the development of the compositions, recorded instrumental performances and interactive improvisational aspects of the album production. The structural design of the work was realised through a set of layered improvisational encounters with and between the musicians, composer, technology, images and the sonic environmental database in virtual and live spaces. The creative output is a work rendered in part as virtual improvisations where music is made by improvising with and through technology and with the sounds and images of the place in which the music was produced.

This seminar will explore some of the ways that Jazz improvisation traditions are being extended and challenged when engaging with virtual environments, and processes that evolved out of improvising with technologies in building a musical work. This theme will pick up and develop ideas first explored in the chapter - Music in Perpetual Beta: Composition, Remediation and “Closure” by Paul Draper and Frank Millward in The Oxford Handbook on Music and Virtuality, where we drew upon what David Borgo refers to as the “phase space of improvisation” to explore ideas about asynchronous Internet improvised collaboration.

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