Into the Maelstrom

A Descent into the Maelstrom
Harry Clarke, 1919

in progress, my next book: Into the Maelstrom: Improvised Music and the Pursuit Of Freedom . . .

to research the history and practice of musical improvisation, notably the post-1960s ‘school’ known as free improvisation; to establish the cultural and political contexts out of which free improvisation emerged in the 1960s; to locate the self-organisation of improvising musicians in the 1960s-70s within a broad spectrum of political and social activism; to analyse the backgrounds and beliefs of those innovative musicians who were among the earliest to develop a practice of group improvisation without composer, notated score, conductor or prearrangement; to map the continuing evolution of the music,  its changing practice.

About davidtoop

David Toop is a composer/musician, author and curator based in London who has worked in many fields of sound art and music, including improvisation, sound installations, field recordings, pop music production, music for television, theatre and dance. He has published seven books, including Ocean of Sound, Haunted Weather, Sinister Resonance, Into the Maelstrom and Flutter Echo. His solo albums include Screen Ceremonies, Black Chamber, Sound Body and Entities Inertias Faint Beings. As a critic he has written for many publications, including The Wire, The Face, Leonardo Music Journal and Bookforum. Exhibitions he has curated include Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery, London, Playing John Cage at Arnolfini, Bristol, and Blow Up at Flat-Time House, London. His opera – Star-shaped Biscuit – was performed as an Aldeburgh Faster Than Sound project in September 2012. He is Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at University of the Arts London.
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17 Responses to Into the Maelstrom

  1. Anthoney says:

    I am looking forward to reading the book when it is finished and to see the progress on the blog. I’m curious about the Poe reference though.

  2. pazel yacob caplin says:

    Good luck with the completion of your project Mr Toop. A much needed work.

  3. Jerome Langguth says:

    According to John Szwed’s biography, Sun Ra once remarked to his musician’s at an Arkestra rehearsal something along the lines of “Y’all don’t know, but Poe know.” I am looking forward to your book.

  4. cakeist says:

    Any Alterations scribblings planned?

    • davidtoop says:

      Well Alterations will have to be part of it because it’s a group that tried to confront the received ideas of freedom that had evolved by the mid-70s.
      Plus there’s the issue of fitting myself and the groups/musicians with whom I’ve been involved into the discourse without it becoming a solipsistic monologue – that’s something I’ve been working on through group contributions, collective perceptions of an improvisation. The discussions in the LCC improv sessions really helped to develop that way of thinking.

  5. Gary says:

    Hope Gong will be featured- so influential yet so overlooked.

  6. Ohad Fishof says:

    Good luck, David, looking forward to reading it. Are you familiar with Arthur Koestler’s concepts of Holarchy and Holons? I always thought these could be useful for the discussion of improvisation.

  7. davidtoop says:

    Thanks Ohad. Holarchy and Holons, no, but now I’m intrigued. There’s a slight danger with improvisation that almost any field of theory can be applied to somehow justify it or even explain it so let’s say I’m cautious, but thank you for the link.

  8. davidtoop says:

    Ahh, from The Ghost In the Machine. I read that in my 20s but clearly don’t remember it very well 🙂

  9. Love your posts! How do I link your wordpress to my posterous?

  10. Lindsay says:

    This sounds great…what is the planned release date may I ask?

  11. looking forward to this one very much, David.

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