PING PONG PANG: Collective Improvisation [2008-2010]

From around 2008 I started to get interested in collective improvisation in music. At the time I was living in Indonesia where I was studying Javanese Karawitan music. I started to organise small music and sound events in the evenings, bringing together musicians and friends from the area to listen and perform. This culminated in the Ping Pong Pang perfomance event of June 2008. A year later I enrolled at Tokyo University of the Arts where I began to explore the role of improvisation in 20th Century contemporary music. Together with Aquiles Hadjis I started to organise a weekly improvisation workhop at the university called Ping Pong Pang. We used the workshop as an opportunity to experiment with different systems for organising improvised musical performance. Some of these took the form of simple instructions to be interpreted by each performer (Oliveros, Stevens), while others involved a conductor (Zorn, Morris) or a graphic score [Cardew, Feldman).

The workshops and performances revealed many fascinating patterns of social behavior and musical expression. I was interested in the notion of 'freedom' and 'authority' and how a group of performers could structure a musical performance through improvisation. These ideas began to chime with my increasing interest in Complexity Theory, which I began to explore through the Otoplexus project a year later.

A selection of notebook extracts from this period are viewable here. Audio recordings to follow shortly.

Improvisation performances and workshops: [left] Tokyo, 2009-2010 and [right] Yoygyakarta, 2008

Improvisation performances and workshops: [left] Tokyo, 2009-2010 and [right] Yoygyakarta, 2008

Ping Pong Pang workshops at Tokyo University of the Arts [2009-2010]

Ping Pong Pang workshops at Tokyo University of the Arts [2009-2010]

Ping Pong Pang poster for performance event in Yogyakarta, 2008

Ping Pong Pang poster for performance event in Yogyakarta, 2008