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Derek Bailey

Derek Bailey (January 29, 1930 – December 25, 2005) was an English avant-garde guitarist and leading figure in the free improvisation movement.

For listeners unfamiliar with experimental musics, Bailey's distinctive style can be initially quite difficult. Its most noticeable feature is what appears to be its extreme discontinuity, often from note to note: there may be enormous intervals between consecutive notes, and rather than aspiring to the consistency of timbre typical of most guitar-playing, Bailey interrupts it as much as possible: four consecutive notes, for instan ...read more

Derek Bailey (January 29, 1930 – December 25, 2005) was an English avant-garde guitarist and leading figure in the free improvisation movement.

For listeners unfamiliar with experimental musics, Bailey's distinctive style can be initially quite difficult. Its most noticeable feature is what appears to be its extreme discontinuity, often from note to note: there may be enormous intervals between consecutive notes, and rather than aspiring to the consistency of timbre typical of most guitar-playing, Bailey interrupts it as much as possible: four consecutive notes, for instance, may be played on an open string, a fretted string, via harmonics, and using a nonstandard technique such as scraping the string with the pick or plucking below the bridge. Many of the key features of his music - radical discontinuity, the self-contained brevity of each gesture, an attraction to wide intervals - owe much to Bailey's early fascination with Anton Webern, an influence most audible on Bailey's earliest available recordings, Pieces for Guitar .

Playing both acoustic and electric guitars (although more usually the former), Bailey was able to extend the possibilities of the instrument in radical ways, obtaining a far wider array of sounds than are usually heard. He explored the full vocabulary of the instrument, producing timbres and tones ranging from the most delicate tinklings to fierce noise attacks. (The sounds he produced have been compared to those made by John Cage's prepared piano.) Typically he played a conventional instrument, in standard tuning, but his use of amplification was often crucial. In the 1970s, for instance, his standard set-up involved two independently controlled amplifiers to give a stereo effect onstage, and he often would use the swell pedal to counteract the "normal" attack and decay of notes. He also made highly original use of feedback, a technique demonstrated on the album String Theory.

Although Bailey occasionally made use of 'prepared' guitar in the 1970s (e.g., putting paper clips on the strings, wrapping his instruments in chains, adding further strings to the guitar, etc), often for Dadaist/theatrical effect, by the end of this decade he had, in his own words, 'dumped' such methods. Bailey argued that his approach to music making was actually far moreorthodox than performers such as Keith Rowe of the improvising collective AMM, who treats the guitar purely as a 'soundsource' rather than as a musical instrument. Instead Bailey preferred to "look for whatever 'effects' I might need through technique.".

Eschewing labels such as jazz (even free jazz), Bailey described his music as non-idiomatic, a label which has been much. debated. In the 2nd edition of his book, Improvisation..., Bailey indicated that he felt that free improvisation was no longer "non-idiomatic" in his sense of the word, as it had become a recognizable genre and musical style itself. In his efforts to avoid predictability he always sought out collaborators from many different fields: players as diverse as Pat Metheny, John Zorn,Lee Konitz, David Sylvian, Cyro Baptista, Cecil Taylor, Keiji Haino, tap dancer Will Gaines, Drum 'n' Bass DJ Ninj, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and the Japanese noise rock group Ruins. In fact despite often performing and recording in a solocontext, he was far more interested in the dynamics and challenges of working with other musicians, especially those who did not necessarily share his own approach; "There has to be some degree, not just of unfamiliarity, but incompatibility [with a partner]. Otherwise, what are you improvising for? What are you improvising with or around? You've got to find somewhere where you can work. If there are no difficulties, it seems to me that there's pretty much no point in playing. I find that the things that excite me are trying to make something work. And when it does work, it's the most fantastic thing. Maybe the most obvious analogy would be the grit that produces the pearl in an oyster, or some shit like that..

Bailey was also known for his dry sense of humour. In 1977 Musics magazine sent the question "What happens to time. awareness during improvisation?" to about thirty musicians associated with the free improvisation scene. The answers received varied from lengthy and highly theoretical essays to more direct comments. Typically pithy was Bailey's reply; "The ticks turn into tocks and the tocks turn into ticks".

Mirakle, a 1999 recording released in 2000, shows Bailey moving into the free funk genre performing with Jamaaladeen Tacumaand Calvin Weston. Carpal Tunnel, the last record to be released during his lifetime, documented his personal struggles to come to terms with the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in his right hand, which had rendered him unable to grip a plectrum (and in fact marked the onset of his motor neurone disease). Characteristically, he refused invasive surgery to treat his condition, instead being more "interested in finding ways to work around" this limitation. He chose to "relearn" guitar playing techniques by utilising his right thumb and index fingers to pluck the strings.

Taken from Wikipedia.org « hide

Similar Bands: John Cage, Keiji Haino, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Taku Sugimoto

Standards
2007

3.5
2 Votes
To Play (The Blemish Sessions)
2006

Carpal Tunnel
2005

Solo Guitar Series Number 5: At the Sidecar
2004

Solo Guitar Series Number 6: Then
2004

Solo Guitar Series Number 4: Filmed
2003

Pieces for Guitar
2002

4.3
2 Votes
Ballads
2002

3.6
7 Votes
Solo Guitar Series Number 1: Church
2002

Solo Guitar Series Number 2: South
2002

Solo Guitar Series Number 3: Different Guitars
2002

Duos, London 2001
2002

Visitors Book
2002

String Theory
2000

Play Backs
1999

Departures
1998

Takes Fakes and Dead She Dances
1997

4
1 Votes
LACE
1997

Guitar, Drums 'N' Bass
1996

5
1 Votes
Incus Taps
1995

3.3
2 Votes
Drop Me Off at 96th
1994

3.5
1 Votes
New Year Messages 1-iiii
1994

3
1 Votes
Solo Guitar Volume 2
1992

In Whose Tradition?
1988

Notes
1986

Concert in Milwaukee
1983

Aida
1981

3.6
12 Votes
Music and Dance
1980

4
1 Votes
Domestic and Public Places
1979

Duo and Trio Improvisation
1978

New Sight, Old Sounds
1978

4
1 Votes
Improvisation (DIVerso n.2)
1975

3.5
1 Votes
Lot 74
1974

3.5
1 Votes
Solo Guitar
1971


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