What I’ve been teaching these past years is solo performance in improvisation and/or the performer’s own composition - true, primarily for bass players but not only.
I began “teaching” in 1976 at the La Rochelle, France jazz festival. It was a 10 day workshop, 3 hours a day for 22 performing musicians and the subject was “The First Note”. I had a year to prepare the workshop and my propos was that if the first note is right the rest is easy. So the question: “What is the right note?” The following years I gave workshops, mostly here in Europe, on improvisation for musicians and for musicians and dancers together. After around 30 years of working with performers on group improvisation I came to the realization that we, as a group of performers, had pretty much arrived to understand how to play/perform together and that the more pertinent question was not how but what to play together?
I first played solo in 1968 and in the years following I had ample opportunity to study, search and perform in solo. The study was without a teacher. The research was around the question of “what-all can come out of a bass, plucked and bowed?” I didn’t consult scores or Bert Tutetzki’s book or recordings or any other sources. My search was alone, with a bass and a bow. This process, which is still going on today, has given me a wealth of musical materials which I use in spontaneous composition, be it for a solo recital or a group endeavor with other performers.
Here is the flyer I’ve used these past years to put forward what I currently propose.
Solo Playing in Personal/Improvised Music
Workshop designed for the advancement of the musician as an individual
Open to all instruments and the voice
For years now, in improvised music, we’ve had workshops dealing with the various parameters of playing together in groups. Improvisation is a collective activity and in music the question “what to play together?” is often present. To be able to improvise together, compose spontaneously, we must bring something to offer and not be content to only respond. The focus in this workshop is to help the participants to find their own, personal music for eventual solo playing but also to bring to the collective.
Improvised solo performance - Some ideas -
Technique – We are all limited in our technical abilities. There is no end or limit to technical development. As we continue to work on the instrument to acquire more and more technique we must at the same time, at any moment, be able to express ourselves with the technique we do have. A musician not only continues to prepare himself for tomorrow's musical adventure but he/she must be ready to make music today.
Sound - Our personal instrumental sound is what carries our emotions, feelings and ideas to the public. We must be at home with our sound. We must know and accept it wholly. Our sound is as much a part of us as our skin.
1. At home – Freely play, play and then play some more. Look for materials (harmonies, melodies, rhythms etc.), sounds and extended technique effects that please you. Work on them so that they become available to you “automatically”.
2. The workshop – (three hours) is organized like a traditional master-class. This allows for 5 or 6 musicians to play for Barre Phillips. Other musicians and auditors are welcome. Subjects most usually discussed in the workshop:
A. Your sound, the one you have today.
D. Stage presence
E. Technical questions
Below please find a contact form for contacting me directly. If you want to book a session know that I will ask you for audio samples of your playing, be it solo or as part of a small group. I “teach” in English or French.
Barre Phillips - March 2021 -