THE FIRST CONCERT
AN ADAPTIVE APPRAISAL OF A META MUSIC
by Edwin (Eddie) Prévost
Publishe dy Copula, 2011
Recommended by the musician N.O. Moore.
Nathan, Why you recommend it?
A precise and informed theorisation of what improvisation is, and why it is aesthetically, socially, and politically significant. This book offers the clearest account of Prévost’s extension of certain ideas proposed by Cardew, and how and why they remain urgent. The book connects the practice of improvised music to an anthropological framework which is both unromantic and inspiring.
back cover text:
‘He spoke about music in its pre-cultural state, when song had been a howl across several pitches, [when] musical performances must have had a quality something like free recitation; improvisation. But if one closely examined music, and in particular its most recently achieved stage of development, one noticed the secret desire to return to those conditions.’
– Thomas Mann Doctor Faustus
‘We are searching for sounds and for the responses that attach to them, rather than thinking them up, preparing them and producing them.’
– Cornelius Cardew
‘Everywhere, the orthodox systems of our times anticipate the careful and clear presentation of ready worked-out on-tap outcomes, throughout our lives. Said systems seldom afford focused vantage on the vagaries, protean problems, the awkward wealth, of investigation itself. Generally, the on-goings of development are hidden, edited or simply unseen; what has been developed over time is rendered public, honed for appreciation after the fact, variously knowable,reproducible and endorsable qua final product or record.’
– Seymour Wright
Percussionist Eddie Prévost co-founded in the 1960s the seminal improvising music ensemble AMM. In this book he presents a very personal philosophy of music informed by his long working practice and inspired by the London weekly improvisation workshop he first convened in 1999. Perhaps controversially, this view is mediated through the developing critical discourse of adaptionism; a perspective grounded in Darwinian conceptions of human nature. Music herein is examined for its cognitive and generative qualities to see how our evolved biological and emergent cultural legacy reflects our needs and dreams. This survey visits ethnomusicology, folk music, jazz, contemporary music and ‘world music’ as well as focusing upon various forms of improvisation – observing their effect upon human relations and aspirations. However, there are also analytical and ultimately positive suggestions towards future ‘metamusical’ practices. These mirror and potentially meet the aspirations of a growing community who wish to engage with the world – with all its history and chance conditionals – by applying a free-will in making music that is creative and collegiate.