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Piece by Piece 1: Shane Latimer

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IMC and Triskel came together to host a weekly sequence of online performance called Piece By Piece featuring leading Irish improvisers on Friday 10th April at 8pm with Shane Latimer.

Each artist’s input performance will influence the next performance in this musical chain. Piece by piece, artists will create new improvised work, based on the preceding work. Improvising musicians are uniquely skilled at interpretation and spontaneous creation allowing for fresh creation of the highest calibre and a unique 'live art' experience for the Piece By Piece online audience.

We spoke to acclaimed guitarist and electronic improviser Shane Latimer as he prepared to kick off this special series on Friday 10th April at 20:00hrs GMT.

What does improvisation mean to you?

When you commit to improvising (or at least to an improvisatory approach) the music is new every time and it is this that gives improvised music such a vitality which is sometimes absent from other (great, valid, infinitely complex and beautiful) ways of producing music.

The music is new every time and it is this that gives improvised music such a vitality.

Thinking back to when I was starting out playing music with friends I always enjoyed when we were just playing together, not really knowing where the music was going. Just having fun making music, somebody showing off or whatever and everyone just going with it. I enjoyed these experiences much more than the drudgery of rehearsing songs or the same section over and over. I probably felt that overly focussing on rehearsal can bring the music away from its essence (although, in fairness we probably needed the rehearsal!).

20 years on from that, I still feel much the same way and usually gravitate towards musical activity that has some sort of improvisation present.

How do you think about engaging with material or ideas from another artist when improvising?

Finding a common thread when working in a medium that is interpretive can be challenging.

I guess the key is to be open to elements being reinterpreted and reformed by others, and to respond in ways that leave the door open for further exploration.

The whole narrative of musical development can be seen as ideas upon ideas, so in a way we're always engaging with the work of others, more or less, just through each of our own unique lens.

How do you think the world of music is changing or will change as result of the COVID-19 crisis?

In the context of such an all-encompassing global tragedy, it has been incredibly heartening to see so many musicians sharing their work online over the past few weeks, especially as we all get to grips with the reality of being confined to our homes. Watching and hearing people perform from their homes, from the comfort of ones own home, is not new, but the sheer volume of people who have embraced this out of a desire to still be heard and to stay connected with others has been overwhelming.

As a musician, there are still choices available; to strive to replicate well-established methods of collaboration and presentation, or to embrace new, unfamiliar or seemingly counter-intuitive practices to produce work that speaks somewhat to the time we live in.

Perhaps it is a time to practice, to sharpen our tools for when this crisis comes to some sort of resolution. Many artists will not or cannot wait for this hypothetical to play out, so it will be fascinating to see how people produce work in a medium that relies so heavily upon immediate human interaction.

But of course now it is infnitely more important to stay safe and well, to look out for the vulnerable and to give what we can from the resources we have available to us.

Catch the premiere of Shane's piece on Friday 10th April at 20:00hrs by subscribing to IMC's YouTube channel or Triskel's Facebook

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