Questionnaire: Kai Fagaschinski (2007)
1. Have you got any formal musical training, and what do you draw from it now?
First I hadn’t, but when I developed a little of an idea of what I wanted to do with my instrument after some years, I thought some lessons wouldn’t harm anymore and so I took for some years “classical” clarinet lessons, which I’ve stopped now, basically because of money reasons. I think these lessons didn’t affect my musical ideas, but had a good effect on my tone.
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 play only a b-flat clarinet. The instrument I own isn’t very good, in fact it’s quite junky, but the defectiveness of the instrument has a strong effect on my style of playing and my music in general.
I started playing the clarinet when I was 22. At that time I liked many saxophone players, but I wanted a somehow weaker instrument. So I took the clarinet.Using my housewife knowledge of psychoanalysis I would say the choice of my instrument has to do with an oral fixation.
3. What is it that attracts you towards musical experimentation?
To find something which is my own thing. Something I have a strong relation to, as I’ve learned it by my own experience rather than it having been brought to me by others. The point isn’t in musical innovation, for me it’s more about a personal way of acquiring knowledge and the specific relationship between the musician and his/her musical material.
4. Why are you involved in improvisation, and how do you perceive it?
In my youth when the music I was listening to had to get stranger and stranger (coming from pop and rock music), I came to avantgarde & free jazz and British improv music. I thought I should try this as well. But “improvisation” wasn’t and isn’t the point of it, it was about the sounds and how to arrange those over time, how to develop music.
5. How do you perceive the relation between planning and spontaneity in improvisation?
In different projects I work in different ways. Some projects work on full composed material, but most projects are more open (= involving aspects of improvisation) to a different degree. In some projects there are no spoken or written pre-arrangements at all when we play concerts, but anyway something gets preset through the collective experience of a group rehearsing, our previous concerts and earlier discussions.
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?
Practising the clarinet is very important for me to have a good relation with the instrument. Especially with this instrument you need trained mouth muscles to have full control.
I find that, for me, the best way of practising improvisation is to play concerts. I find it sometimes difficult to build up what is necessary within an afternoon rehearsal. Rehearsals are in most of my projects not really about practising improvisation, it’s more about checking things out or warming up with each other.
7. How do you evaluate an improvisation? What is it, according to you, that makes one improvisation better than another?
Like every other piece of music, it has to be entertaining in a deeper sense. It has to affect me somehow. I want to feel a kind of a poetic quality.
8. When you are recording for a release, does the awareness of being recorded influence your playing, and in what way?
Yes, recording does have an effect of me. If you have these expensive microphones in front of you and especially in the studio, when you have to pay a lot of money for it, at least I feel that there’s a certain importance of the situation which forces me to concentrate. It’s a kind of pressure, which I find mostly quite positive.