Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Joe Schultz - June 13th, 2010


Idea 1 – 

Write a piece based on “rhythmic shells,” which are written rhythms, filled with whatever pitches the performer chooses to play.  If more than one pitched instrument is featured, and they all share the same rhythms at the same time, the harmonies created by the instruments would be quite unpredictable.  Percussion instruments can get in on this as well by sharing the same rhythms, and adding other rhythmic flourishes, but remaining within a close proximity to the rhythms of the rhythmic shells.  At times, for the sake of development, some or all instruments could break free of the rhythmic shells and do something different: improvise rhythms, extended techniques, pause, and so forth. 

Idea 2 -

Write a piece for 12 players, any instrumentation, but no more than 3 percussionists.  This large group would be evenly divided into 3 sub-groups.  Each sup-group would have their very own conductor.  Each conductor would have his or her very own in-ear metronome.  The idea behind this piece is to have what appears to be 3 separate ensembles perform what seems to be 3 different pieces, simultaneously.  I imagine it sounding something like setting the dials on 3 stereos to 3 different radio stations, and listening to it.  This idea was partially inspired by the Massive Jam Party that went down at Jared Borkowski’s Racer Session.  Like everyone else who participated, I moved to different areas of the room throughout the performance. I experienced different rhythms, timbres, dynamics, and orchestrations, depending on where I was located in the facility.  At times, it felt like a bunch of different pieces all happening at once: totally interesting and neat. 

I would like to try both of these ideas.  The performance piece will focus on the first idea, and the second idea will be the focus for one of the improv sessions.  I should explain how I’m imagining this improv sesh for the second idea.  No conductors, just players.  3 sub-groups, each consisting of 4 instrumentalists.  Each sub-group may have one percussionist.  If there happens to be 3 drummers that would like to partake in this experiment, I suggest we divide one drum set into thirds in order to maintain a balanced volume level throughout the greater ensemble.  I’m imagining the staging to look something like this, that is, if we can fit 12 people in that one performance area:

(ceiling’s-eye view) 

back of racer (windows, where drums and amps usually are) 

sub-group 1


sub-group 2 sub-group 3

A B C D      A B C D 


Player A will kind of be the leader of his or her sub-group.  He or she will set some sort of musical trend that the rest of his or her sub-group must copy or mimic.  This musical trend could be anything, from one long held note, to a specific rhythm, to a jumbled sound-scape riddled with notes, to any type of extended technique.  One thing that is not necessary though is copying specific pitch.  If you would like to match pitch at any moment during the piece, by all means go for it; otherwise play whatever pitches you like.

So I think Player A of sub-group 1 should kick the whole thing off.  Then Player B of sub-group 1 enters at a moment he or she sees fit, and copies/mimics Player A’s musical trend.  Player C of sub-group 1 will then copy/mimic Player B, and then Player D will copy/mimic Player C.  Sub-group 2 will follow the same order of entrances as sub-group 1, but with a completely different tempo/rhythm/sound or whatever-have-you for their musical trend.  Sub-group 3 will then do the same.  At any moment during the piece Player A of each sub-group can begin a new musical trend.  The order of copying/mimicking will then start over, traveling down the line of players: A to B, B to C, and C to D.

During this session I may or may not do a little directing/conducting.  I might ask Player A to start a new musical trend in his or her sub-group.  I might ask certain players and or sub-groups to pause for a moment, get softer or louder in dynamic, or become a free agent and break free of the copying and mimicking.  I don’t know what I’ll do exactly, I’m just really excited to go with the flow and see what happens. 

The performance piece, which is now called “Shells,” consists of 3 sections: Motion, Connection, and Evolution.  The performers are: Joe Schultz/guitar, Chris Icasiano/drums, Luke Bergman/bass.