Racer Sessions

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

Liam Fitzgerald - September 25th, 2011


Opening Piece 

In the opening piece, I’ll be performing on a vibraphone, along with a pre-recorded track.  I started experimenting with this technique for a past performance, in order to “fit the most show in a small space.”  The piece is called “up to out.” 

Despite weaknesses to this practice (such as the inability to changes the song’s structure live, and especially limiting interplay between instruments), there are benefits in the specific guiding of sound texture, tight rhythmic dictation, and control of the song’s developmental structure.  I hope the piece will demonstrate these benefits.

Jam Session

I don’t have any strict guides for the evening’s performances, but performers may work with if the ideas below if they choose.

1.        The opening piece is its own blend of improvisation and orchestration: the song’s form and many instruments are set, while the vibraphone part is left to my own will while performing.  I believe there are strengths to both improvisation and orchestration and I encourage the evening’s performers to explore manners of combining the benefits of each, by pre-deciding on points of orchestration to complement their improvisation.

For example, in improvisations elsewhere I’ve decided beforehand to reserve a note as a resolution, which provided for a clean ending regardless of the improvisations direction.  Other points of orchestration could include deciding on rhythmic concepts, time signatures, developments in the songs structure, or a pre-determined length of the improvisation.  Some of this “planning” is done at the Racer Sessions occasionally, but I still encourage this evening’s performers to consider strengths and weaknesses of improvisation versus orchestration, and how the best sides of both can be combined.

2.        The recording of this piece has revealed how frequently I perform parts for myself that ignore what other instruments are playing.  Many times I’ve recorded parts that sounded great to me while I was playing them, but were weak when played back with all the parts.  My best playing (both in composing and in improvisation) has been when I dropped the ego and not thought about my own playing whatsoever.  In the strongest states of mind, I’ve only been aware of what other instruments are playing, and all that came out of my own was in reflex to that.

If they choose to work with this idea, I suggest that performers experiment with greater awareness of what other instruments are playing in their ensemble, even purposely sacrificing awareness of their own parts to do so.  To get the full effect of this practice, participates could even listen to recordings of past performances they’ve partaken in and consider their role in that musical situation: what they would have done differently, and what new directions to take their playing.


Thanks for reading, and for participating in this great musical community,