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Fourth piece

Piece by Piece 4: Cormac McCarthy

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IMC and Triskel come together to host a weekly sequence of online performance called Piece By Piece featuring leading Irish improvisers, which kicked off on Friday 10th April.

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.

Bringing the series into May is composer, pianist and arranger Cormac McCarthy, who brings to bear a background across traditional, jazz, and classical music in his music. An individualistic use of Irish traditional tunes in a jazz idiom along with sweepingly cinematic textures marries genres which are seldom brought together successfully. We chatted to Cormac about his approach to improvisation ahead of his performance, live on Youtube and Facebook on Friday 1st May, 20:00 GMT+1.

Q. What does improvisation mean to you?

This is something I’ve never thought about directly, probably because I’ve improvised at the piano since I started playing (around 5). It always seemed like an obvious and natural thing to be doing, and it was, and still is quite a lot of fun. I suppose it’s a very immediate means of expression, which bypasses the sort of analysis and judgement filters we apply to so much of our lives.

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

I really enjoy this process and have always found it very rewarding to engage withand respond to dancers, visual artists and other musicians. It’s a communication between two or more people, and I think as humans we are often searching for these connections. It also helps make the endeavour feel less egoic and more of a “team effort’. I find this element in particular to be pretty liberating.

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

It’s difficult to know as we’re still very much in the early days of what is a completely changed world. I think the evolution of the virus, possible treatments and vaccines etc are going to inform the approaches and restrictions imposed by governments, and we as musicians are simply going to have to respond. We’re not in control so it will be a reactionary process. It could be interesting though…who knows?

Thanks Cormac!

Read more about the Piece by Piece series HERE

Piece by Piece 1 Shane Latimer: Hear Shane's piece HERE, and read his reflections HERE

Piece by Piece 2 Nick Roth & Olesya Zdorovetska: Hear Nick & Olesya's piece HERE, and read their reflections HERE

Piece by Piece 3 Seán Mac Erlaine: Hear Seán's piece HERE, and read his reflections HERE

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