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April FreeSessions cancelled due to Covid-19

Stay healthy out there and feel free to send us videos of you improvising or tag Lakebottom Sound on social media. We will miss our community gathering this month and look forward to a time when we can gather and listen and play.

Please continue to support Imagine Nation Brewing Company – our gracious hosts. They are doing CANNED BEER PICK-UP ONLY (cards only/no cash) at the brewery between the hours of 4:00 – 7:00PM.

Sending love!

Mitchell Bailey presents Sunday, March 1

Mitchell’s Blog Post:

I moved to Missoula last August to study and teach music. Until this point in my life, I had never lived more than an hour’s drive from my childhood home in central New Hampshire. In the absence of the familiar, I became confronted with many unexpected obstacles. The need for honest expression, community, support, and understanding significantly overshadowed much of my need to study and improve at my craft. In response to this imbalance, I found that the act of creating melodies on the piano, an instrument that I held little to no expectation of my technical ability on, was a kind of therapeutic exercise. 

As I did this over time, I began to accumulate the string of melodies and textures that we will be presenting tonight. When applied to quintet I intentionally made key landing points clear but left a lot of ambiguity in how the group arrives at each new groove, melody or texture. This creates a deeply open experience where time, harmony, and texture must be thought of as elastic and shared. The human connection and trust that I have felt though the performance of this music has been exceptionally cathartic.

The amazing drummer/musician/person Matt Wilson performed in Missoula a few weeks ago. During his time here, he brought up the idea that while creating no expectations = no failures. So often I see highly capable people who are dying to create but are paralyzed by the idea of taking an embarrassing or incorrect first step. My hope is that this piece can help show that in any creative/improvisational/life endeavor, steps can just be steps. 

Though I don’t have any specific parameters for how we will create in the following session, I would like to challenge you all to examine what expectations, titles, and identities you hold for your own creation. Do not necessarily reject them, but question them, attempt to find what is driving these associations and weigh out whether it is helpful to you or not. I have found the Free Sessions immensely helpful to this process, so if you are in the room, I guarantee that you’re already on the right track.

The Quintet will be:

Me: Trombone

Ross Strausser: Saxophone

Connor Rocicot: Piano

Kyler Rebich: Bass

Willie Baltz: Percussion

Lindsey Marie (Bells from Linden) presents Sunday, February 2

Lindsey’s Blog Post:

The Real, the Raw, the True – that’s what it’s all about, the growth that spreads inside.  In creative expression we attempt to translate the sometimes impossible, mysterious realm into sight, sound, touch, taste or smell.  When brave hearted artists have the strength to unzip the inner walls of our existence to translate our own presence, lives can be shifted forever.  Unmovable mountains can be moved. We bring our empty cups to the wellsprings of vulnerability in search of the Real, the Raw, the True. We drink and refill.  It is not easy.

This process of opening to artistic attunement helps us learn how to be more human, for ourselves and others.  We need this like we need food. All people need creative expression – not all people know we need it. But we will die without it.  It’s a basic human need, an interconnected thread that asks artists of all mediums to be life-affirming leaders.

We want to witness the ethereal spoken into thick air, to be blanketed in words or images that trace the very existence of our desire.  We want to hear courage, to listen to the momentary erosion of our own fear from the beginning of a song to the end. We want to see grief in a matted glaze, to hold the clay bunny in our hands and feel tragedy translated perfectly.  We want to taste kindness, that sweet relief of a soup made with empathy. We want to feel love pour through our hair and land on our shoulders, like a flannel bag of hot rice.

Moments of attunement, strung together, form a life fully lived.  And attunement is impossible without the ingredient of free creativity.  The way mindful conversation with a loved one can open long hidden rooms, like language as a map leads the lost souls home.  The way light lands on a prison cell floor and brings a memory of comfort to the innocent’s eyes. The way a two hour play can mark the official beginning of a new way of life.  The way a book can sooth loneliness through companionship over dinner alone.

What moves you in the wide umbrella of creativity?  My answer is humble vulnerability. Intimate and open exploration of the Real, the Raw and the True is the gift of all gifts.  As everyone is an artistic being, we are all invited into the choice of how much to open our emotional vessels, when to unzip our internal landscapes and if – if to even begin at all.  For me, that’s the hardest part. But I want skin inside out, I want the microscopic. I want to feel the churning circulation of the heart of the one giving the gift. And if that’s me, I want to make sure I’m showing up a clear channel on my highest road.  I want to hear your stories – however thin or vast – I want to share mine. And when I sing, I want to give like gravity.

FreeSessions is a place that has consistently invited my vulnerability to widen.  Without knowing it, FreeSessions has held me in days I could not speak yet found strength to sing.  FreeSessions held me up when I could not stand. FreeSessions is a small community worth fighting for, a place I love to co-facilitate.  For this curation, I’m grateful to share some of my original music with this mountain town, solo style. My broken down ukulele, with alternate tunings, will be my trusty steed.  I’m grateful to offer my poems as an optional cliff jump for free improvisations. And I will invite myself and other brave explorers to dive into the question:

What does your Real, your Raw, your True…need to express right now?

FreeSessions v. 26 Sunday, January 5

Open session. We will be improvising the whole time with varying group sizes. There will be a sign up sheet when you arrive that you can sign up to participate.

Introduce yourself to your collaborators.

Take a moment of breath and silence before you play.

Can you be playful and hold this as a place of growth – a space to create something new?

Remember this session is about collaboration and experimentation. It’s about serving the piece through sound, movement, silence. It’s about listening with your whole body, through your pores. It’s about honoring everyone’s innate ability to create. It’s about being kind. Silence is a super worthy contribution. It’s about committing to the piece.

It can feel intimate, vulnerable, and uncomfortable.

Our aim is to make it as safe a place as possible for as many folks as possible. Try not to let your discomfort cause others to feel unsafe. Discomfort is different than pain. Discomfort is to be expected when being experimental and creating something brand new. Please be conscious of personal space and volume in this space.

Always feel free to pass if your name is called and you don’t want to participate. You can also step out of an improvisation if necessary.

Here’s to being playful, having fun, expressing, listening, collaborating, making new sounds, connecting with community, and doing so in a way that is mutually supportive.

Facebook Event

 

Love,

The FreeSessions Crewa

FreeSessions Showcase at First Night (12.31.19) at The Dana Gallery

The Dana Gallery 
246 N Higgins Ave
6-9pm
 
6-6:30-Tricia Opstad’s All You Can Eat Life
6:30-6:45-Transition
6:45-7:15-Heidi J’s Sistema Libre
7:15-7:30-Transition
7:30-8pm Missoula Conduction Orchestra led by Naomi Siegel
8-8:15-Transition for Jams
8:15-9-Jams
Tricia Opstad’s All You Can Eat Life
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat -‘Perhaps the World Ends Here’ by Joy Harjo
A dance improvisation performance by Holly Biehl, Jessica Goodburn and Tricia Opstad with live experimental sounds by Bill Kautz and Lauren Norby centered around a dinner table.

Heidi J’s Sistema Libre features:
Madeline Rose Finley, Nathan Zavalney, Raleigh Charbonneau, Jordan Demander, Will Adams, Courtney Sowa, Omaur Keita, Peter Schaefgen, Molly Buchanan, Duane Raider

Missoula Conduction Orchestra:
Bill Kautz, Jenni Long, Mayana Kantor, Leslie Burgess, Nathan Zavalney, Molly Liu Buchanan, Lindsey Stormo, Nancy Seldin, Tommy Sciple, Tom Berich

First Night Info: https://artsmissoula.org/first-night/

Michael Musick, Bill Kautz & Naomi Siegel present Sunday, December 1

It’s our 2 year anniversary!

We improvise because….

 

Bill Kautz:

 

I improvise to be grounded.

 

Improvisation is the most effective way for me to understand myself in a given moment, and to accept my position in that moment. It is spiritual, meditative and when conducted with others who understand and foster a similar sensitivity during improvisation, deeply embracing.

 

Improvisation has opened opportunities that nothing else could have. It continues to be a regular driving force in who I am becoming. A constant teacher. My life is unimaginable without its presence.

 

 

Michael Musick:

 

I improvise because, to me, it is the most authentic form of creation. I improvise to connect to the immediacy of the moment with a force larger than myself. I improvise with others for the art of the journey.

 

 

Naomi Siegel:

 

I improvise to

ride the edge of the moment

practice

commit

and create in real time

I improvise to

breath and be mindful

be delightfully playful and creative

have fun and stretch the limit of possibilities

in devotion of the present

I improvise to

“value sound/silence as an infinitely flexible tool”*

serve the music, the piece, the collective creation

deeply listen

and love

I improvise to

be vulnerable, take risks and make way for authentic creation

listen with my whole body and being

connect to the moment, myself, my surroundings, my community

I improvise to

be adaptable and fluid

appreciate and learn

collaborate and smile

give and receive

I improvise to

be open

stretch the possibilities of music-making

and transcend boundaries

as a spiritual practice

 

* quote by Neil Welch

 

 

 

Lauren Norby presents Sunday, November 3

The Amateur

For this session, I ask that performers embody the concept of “The Amateur.” An amateur is “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession,” or “one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science.” Amateur encompasses both a naiveté and a passion. In your participation, think about ways you can chanel the amateur; perhaps by using an unfamiliar instrument, or deliberately using the instrument “incorrectly,” or abandoning tonality. Keep in mind the collaborative nature of the improvisation, and the importance of listening to and learning from your fellow performers. Try to abandon yourself to the music. Be open to surprises and discoveries.

 

The Season

This session falls on November 3rd, one day after All Souls Day, two days after Hallowmas, three days after Halloween, and just as we begin seeing flurries of Christmas spirit. In this spirit, each group of performers may decide amongst themselves if their improvised work is a funeral dirge or a Christmas tune.

Nathan Zavalney presents Sunday, October 6

What makes a meaningful group musical improvisation?

Is it a sense of connection and interaction? A cohesive musical output? Conversation? Expression? Groove? Interesting, unexpected ideas emerging? Group playfulness?

I would like to propose a framework for exploring this question through identifying the musical, emotional, and relational elements that are the building blocks of a group music improvisation. This can also apply to improvisation through movement, spoken word, theater, and other forms of expression.

 Examples of musical elements:

Major, Minor, Repetition, Harmonic Progression, Free Form, Atonal, Ambient, Discordant

Rhythmic Elements: Polyrhythmic, Unified, Fast, Medium, Slow, Unpredictable, Spacious, Dense

Examples of emotional/relational elements:

Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear

Curious, Avoidant, Playful, Serious,

 I believe that a musical improvisation between two or more people will inevitably involve several or more of these elements to varying degrees. Whether or not there is an intentional agreement on particular uses of the elements, or a pre-defined structure for the improvisation, it is guaranteed that musical, emotional, and relational aspects will emerge. The more conscious awareness and agreement a group of has around the emerging elements and themes, the deeper the improvisation is likely to go.

To focus on a playful, conscious, and intentional exploration of this concept, the Free Sessions evening will be structured around 3 specific elements for each improvisation, using spinner game boards that I have created to randomly choose from the sub-set of elements within the larger categories of musical/ emotional/relational. Participants will be randomly matched with a goal of making sure that all attendees have an opportunity to play at least one time during the event, and that the number of players for each improvisation will vary.

My intent is to facilitate an evening exploring creativity within structure, and to encourage a safe container that supports participants of all levels of experience in meeting on a common ground and going deeper with their personal understanding of the possibilities of group improvisation.

 

Larry Ellingson presents Sunday, September 8

*please note this FreeSessions is the 2nd Sunday due to Labor Day weekend.

Larry Ellingson  –  Graphic Scores September 8, 2019

Larry ELLINGSON is a lifetime native of Spokane who composes music with analog and digital recording tools and creates additive sculpture from found objects (www.larryellingson.com).

He performs tonal and atonal music combining improvisational and structured composition, live looping, analog and virtual synthesis, signal processing, and random access of a personal sound collection. Using the same approach as his creation of visual art, his goal is to create layers of sound and music that are interesting enough to keep you listening.  Listeners often feel that they are moving through an unfamiliar or dreamlike landscape with with features and details appearing, lingering, then fading away.

GRAPHIC SCORES – A little background
Through the centuries composers and artists have collaborated.  One of the earliest examples I heard when I was younger was Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” where he interpreted images at a friend’s exhibition of paintings.  After WWII there was a renewed interest and many composers started using non-traditional notation to communicate ideas they felt could not be accomplished through conventional means.  This ranged from using some aspect of standard notation in non-traditional ways, to scores consisting entirely of abstract imagery.  It can be said of the more abstract works that if one gave a single score to 100 different musicians/creators, one would hear 100 different interpretations.  Composers in the genre include John Cage, Krzysztof Penderecki, Steve Reich and Brian Eno, to name a few.  It was interest in this kind of composition that resulted in a unique collaboration between two artists in Eastern Washington.

COLLABORATION: SCORE
Larry Ellingson shared in a unique collaboration with Timothy C Ely toward the end of 2018.  Ely, an internationally known creator of one-of-a-kind books, is an illustrator and master bookbinder.  He also plays electric guitar.  During a road trip together they decided to collaborate on graphic music project.  Ely would draw six graphic scores bound in to a one-of-a-kind book, like those for which he is known, and Ellingson would create music inspired by those graphic scores.  Today the resulting book and CD are part of the Lilly Library’s rare book collection at Indiana University.

Using both found and synthesized sound, Ellingson composed music that realized the visual compositions created by Ely.  Reflecting the nature of Ely’s drawing, the compositions are dense and intricate soundscapes.  Ann Marra, graphic designer and artist, then created a CD and booklet that captures the essence of the project.  The resulting package is the music, along with small images of the graphic scores that inspired it.

GRAPHIC LANGUAGE OF MUSIC
Ellingson says, I spent about three months of 2018 creating sonic realizations of Ely’s SCOREs, becoming familiar and fluent in the idea of visual illustration to organize and arrange his graphical/musical ideas.  This caused a significant transformation of the way I hear, create and “see” music.

Here was my challenge.  My tools for creating a performance are wide ranging and conceptually diverse.
Sound Generation: digital, analog and acoustic
Note Playing: totally self-generating, modifiable screen-based sequencing, and strictly manual physicality
Signal Routing: hardwired MIDI and audio, virtual connections within software

Composing and arranging for this kind of ensemble is quite different from writing for traditional instruments.  When composing work for live performance, I’ve been confounded by my usual method of rigid standard musical notation colliding with the plasticity and non-static nature of the technology/medium I’m using to create the music.  Once I’ve researched and gathered the various sources of sound generation and determined the controlling technology, the process bogs down. I want to lay it all out conceptually so I can have an idea of how it will work together.  Standard notation doesn’t work well because so much of the performance is left to chance and improvisation.  Many musicians who compose and perform this way hold the whole thing in their mind, keeping all of those virtual plates in the air as they adjust and experiment.  My brain doesn’t work that way; I often end up with a lot of broken plates and never know how my plan will come together.

So how can I represent these ideas?  Graphically.  Starting from Tim’s “language” of lines, shapes, clouds, and more, I’ve developed my own symbols that I draw as I improvise the arrangement.  This has really set me free from my own limitations.  These scores come together intuitively and much more quickly.  Less time is spent floating in indecision and more time flying.

Interpreting a graphic score combines imagination and improvisation.  Interpreting as a group requires that each artist also listens carefully to what the others are doing while keeping an eye on the score.  Both silence, cacophony and anything in between are acceptable outcomes.

First, we need artists to create the scores.  So the facilitator will select 1 artist and 3 or 4 musicians for each ensemble.  In each ensemble the musicians might decide in advance how long the piece will be and who will interpret particular sections of the score, but it’s not required.  Once there’s some kind of agreement, let ‘er rip!

SCORE CD packages will be available for purchase at the FreeSessions event.

 

Heidi J & Friends present Sunday, August 4

Free Sessions August 2019

The curation of August Free Sessions will be a collaboration with Dawn McGee, Madeline Rose, Sarah Anderson, Brendan Casey, Courtney Sowa and Steve Kalling. All musicians have an equal voice in the creation of the song arrangements. The excerpts from the 4 songs played at the August Free Sessions have been, or will be recorded in Missoula. The songs are part of a multimedia project: Free System – Sistema Libre, which will be posted online in late fall, 2019. (See below) Thus far there are approximately 25 artists involved in the project.

Following our 30 minute curation, we will ask all Free Sessions participants to write words for the following 3 categories: dark, light and x-factor. We will put the words into corresponding vessels, then group people into trios or quartets and have them pick 3 words, which will guide their improvisation. We request that people listen deeply to each other and HAVE FUN! All participants have an equal voice.

After facing my own darkness for a few years and coming out of it, Free Sessions was the first community space I came to where I felt safe enough to express my voice again. I am very grateful for Lakebottom Sound, Wave and Circuit, Homegrown and Revival Comedy, the ISCSM drag community and the dance scene at the Badlander for helping me. I appreciate the beautiful diversity of artists and people here.

Learning to listen to ourselves, each other and the earth is a mysterious process. I am currently attempting to listen openly to others and take accountability for my own crap. I am also intentionally creating relationships with equal power and equal voice. I view power as an energy and intelligence we harness within ourselves, not gained by dominating or shaming others or ourselves. I use these approaches as inspiration in all my creative collaborations.

Free System – Sistema Libre

Vision
A new system, that unfolds organically, functions healthfully, and is honest, loving, fun, intelligent, wild, creative and conscious. This system supports individuals on their path of growth, self-empowerment and healing irrespective of age, race, gender identification, economic status and spiritual affiliation. This new system cares deeply for the Earth, our home, and prioritizes its regeneration.

“Free”
Not subject to the control, domination or manipulation of oneself or another. Unconstrained by timidity or distrust. Free to express oneself without causing harm to self or others. Free from unconscious suffering. Free to listen. Free from shame. Free to discover who we are.

“System”
Working together as parts of an interconnecting and interdependent network. Delineated by boundaries. Forming a unified whole. A social organization with a common purpose.
A harmonious arrangement or pattern.

I am human. I have fear, courage, sadness, joy, doubts and hope.
I am dark. I am light. I am in process.
For all my relations.