The Blue Shroud project and the development of an innovative free-improvisation approach on classical guitar

Dwyer, Benjamin ORCID logoORCID: (2014) The Blue Shroud project and the development of an innovative free-improvisation approach on classical guitar. [Portfolio/Project/Collection]


By working with the Blue Shroud Band on Barry Guy’s composition The Blue Shroud, and through further live collaborations with members of the group (in the form of ‘small formations’), I have developed a free-improvisation approach that has resulted in a re-imagining of the continuum of the ‘classical guitar’ in both its historical repertory and its physiognomy.

The Blue Shroud employs various modes of notation (standard, aleatoric, graphic, mobile). While crediting one composer, Barry Guy, the work invites performers to actively participate in a shared compositional process during the act of performance. The Blue Shroud Band comprises leading musicians such as Maya Homburger and Michael Niesemann who excel in numerous modes of performance practice (historically informed practice—HIP; jazz improvisation, free improvisation, contemporary music interpretation, etc.).

In playing The Blue Shroud and participating in the small-formation live events, I have had to develop strategic models of performance integrating de-historicized free improvisations alongside historicized engagements with past genres. I have further implemented distinct methodologies of performance from HIP to the use and development of extended techniques:

• ‘Prepared’-guitar techniques employing sticks and tuning forks in the strings ‘deconstruct’ the instrument — when the fret board is divided into three regions, latent sounds are released

• The use of a bow transforms a plucked-string instrument into a bowed string instrument

Improvised compositional processes push the boundaries of musical structure and content.

This practice-led research leads to a recalibration of received ‘classical’ training. No longer hermetically sealed, it pivots on an innovative performance-compositional praxis that simultaneously looks back and forward. Additionally, it has fomented a philosophical framing of improvisation I call tiento (touch) endorsing the significance of the (historically undervalued) technê (τέχνη) mode of knowledge inquiry and re-situating the bio-semiotic framework of Umwelt to include a consciousness-based understanding of human-environment communications and intra-actions.

Venue Details

  1. Krakow Jazz Autumn 2014
    • Location: Karkow Radio Hall, Krakow, Poland
    • Dates: 18-21 Nov 2014

  2. Festival ‘Wege durch das Land"
    • Location: Falkenhagen, Germany
    • Dates: 13 Jun 2015

  3. Ad Libitum Festival Warsaw
    • Location: Ligeti Concert Hall (Polish Radio), Warsaw, Poland
    • Dates: 17 Oct 2015

  4. Theatre Rigiblick
    • Location: Zurich, Switzerland
    • Dates: 22 Nov 2015

  5. Millers Studio
    • Location: Zurich, Switzerland
    • Dates: 19 Sep 2016

  6. Philharmonic Hall
    • Location: Essen, Germany
    • Dates: 22 Oct 2017

  7. Die Alte Oper
    • Location: Frankfurt, Germany
    • Dates: 28 Sep 2019

  8. EFG London Jazz Festival
    • Location: Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London, UK
    • Dates: 16 Nov 2019

Item Type: Portfolio/Project/Collection
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 31816
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Benjamin Dwyer
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 11:39
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2021 00:23

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