Questionnaire: Günter Müller (2007)
1. Have you got any formal musical training, and what do you draw from it now?
Fortunately not. Without any musical education, I was forced to find my own ways to make music.
2. What kind of equipment/instrument do you use, and what is you relationship towards it? What do you think lies behind your choice of the equipment/instrument?
I started playing drums with pick-ups, mics, headphones and electronics in the early 80’s; in the late 90’s two minidisc players and later two ipods were added to the setup. Since some time ago I mostly play just ipods and electronics. On the ipods there are processed sounds, mostly from drums/cymbals, as a huge soundbank to play and to transform live. During many years electronics had been for me an extension of the drums, later on I started focusing to create my sounds with less material. I was always searching for sounds I had never heard before, material I could improvise with in order to get into new territories for me.
3. What is it that attracts you towards musical experimentation?
I would be tired to play the same stuff all the time, – and experimentation is stimulating. For me improvisation is very much linked to life, is a kind of concentrated form of life. And there are moments when I get to do new sounds, new combinations of sounds – maybe unexpected – that simply makes me happy. Improvisation is for me the method to reach those moments.
4. Why are you involved in improvisation, and how do you perceive it?
When I started playing music first in rock/jazz bands I soon got tired to play the same stuff again and again, to rehearse the same pieces, it was much more fun to improvise; and I realised that so many unexpected things were happening in improvisation. Since then, the late 70’s, I’ve been dedicated to improvisation. Improvisation is not a genre of music or a style, improvisation is the way you look at music (and life), it is a method, it’s the view on things.
5. How do you perceive the relation between planning and spontaneity in improvisation?
Of course you’re establishing during the years a vocabulary and a grammar; so one of the things to work on is to keep things developping, to find ways to transform things again, to find new strategies, to surprise yourself. I was involved in a couple of concept improvisations and conducted improvisations, that have been fine experiences, but at the end never totally convincing.
6. Do you “practise” for an improvisation, and what are your general thoughts on the idea of “practising” for improvisation? When you improvise, do you use sounds that you’ve already “tried out”, and how much room is there for actual sound experimentation?
I’m pretty sure that there is no way to ‘practice’ or rehearse improvising, you just do it. I often use sounds I already tried out, but I try to play and treat them each time differently and in new combinations. So there should always be room for new sound experimentation.
7. How do you evaluate an improvisation? What is it, according to you, that makes one improvisation better than another?
It is first of all the feeling it leaves, then maybe talking about what was happening, or listening to recordings of the things we played. There are different aspects that make an improvisation more or less successful: was it kind of focussed or just fumbling around, are there any interesting or surprising dynamics, were there new things happening or was it the same old stuff, were there interesting details, new strategies, how the big form was, the flow, etc.
8. When you are recording for a release, does the awareness of being recorded influence your playing, and in what way?
Perhaps I try to play more concentrated, but I prefer situations where it is possible to forget about beeing recorded. For me it is very interesting what happens later with the recorded material when working on it on computer. It is a kind of second life that is very much independent from the event when the music was played. Editing and mixing is for me an interesting mixture between improvisation and conceptual work.