Striking Moments

“...that’s my way of preparation - to not be prepared. And that takes a lot of preparation!” - Lee Konitz

What does it mean to prepare to be unprepared? Lee Konitz’s deft paradox represents a challenge to the improviser: how can one practice and prepare for improvising, while simultaneously aspiring to spontaneity, newness and the unexpected in its performance? My Master of Music studies at Auckland University in 2020-21 undertook to answer this question.

Striking Moments at Pyramid Club, Wellington Jazz Festival, October 2022.

Coming from my position as a jazz improviser in Aotearoa, my research built on ideas from other New Zealand and Australian artist researchers who have identified the need to develop personal, reflexive, and deliberate practice techniques to answer this question. I offered that “language” and “vocabulary”, common and useful metaphors within musical improvisation, can be practiced, learned and applied in ways that don’t inhibit spontaneity in performance, but enhance it.

I proposed that “striking moments”—especially engaging musical statements discovered during improvisation itself—can act as the genesis of new musical material to adopt into and adapt for an improvising vocabulary.

You can read the thesis.

Since acquiring my MMus, I have run a collaborative workshop series and performed several concerts using the Striking Moments moniker and concepts.