Rémi Fox & Jérôme Nika 3/4 : Live Music (In Athens)

Le blog des résidences artistiques

“I've noticed it more and more while working with Jérôme Nika," says Rémi Fox. “Saying 'Let's meet and improvise' can work once, sometimes twice, with a bit of luck and the magic of improvisation. But to go deeper, you really need to work on the meta-composition beforehand to know what material to play with and how to process it, by Jérôme at his machine, by me, and by the duo.”

As this kind of statement may seem a bit abstract, Rémi Fox and Jérôme Nika agreed to decipher for us a piece taken from a performance that their duo "C'est pour ça" gave in Athens on 26 September 2019.

But first, let's listen to the improvisation in its entirety, entitled Live Music (In Athens):

We won't dissect the whole piece; that would take too long. But the last five minutes offer a very eloquent and explicit example of how the duo works. In the penultimate section (from about the 9th to the 11th minute), Dicy2 improvises from a "memory" constituted by the drum track of the piece Lucid Dream (taken from the album Inget Nytt. by nOx.3 & Linda Oláh, of which Rémi Fox is the saxophonist). This means that the sound material we hear is like a patchwork of sounds extracted from this drum track.

Lucid Dream drums

This memory is 'stimulated' by Coleman Hawkins' spoken voice, i.e. Coleman Hawkins' voice is used as a musical 'script', the listening and analysis of which guides the 'memory' path.

Coleman Hawkins' voice

In this case, the Dicy2 agent 'listens' to the dynamic characteristics of energy and register variations in Coleman Hawkins' voice. In other words, Dicy2 creates a new drum part (from the sounds it has in "memory") that follows the prosodic contours of the voice, while maintaining a believable rhythmic articulation.

Voice and drum interaction

You will probably notice that in this section there is no reactive listening to the saxophone by Dicy2, as one might expect.This is however the case just after, in the last section (from the 11th minute to the end). Here, not one but three audio tracks constitute the 'memory' used by Dicy2 to produce its improvisation : the piano part of the song Lucid Dream (the same as before)

Piano Lucid Dream

the sung voices, still from the song Lucid Dream

Voices of Lucid Dream

and the spoken voice of Coleman Hawkins (here we see a change of use compared to the previous section: the voice is no longer a stimulating scenario; it is part of the sound pool).

Coleman Hawkin's voice

To "stimulate" this heterogeneous memory, this time there is no longer any question of a ‘scenario’ in the sense of a "temporal structure" (in the previous example, the temporal evolution of the improvisation followed that of the spoken voice file): it is, shall we say, Rémi Fox's improvisation on the saxophone that takes care of it - which is, moreover, the duo's most common mode of playing. More specifically, it is the listening and real-time analysis of the harmonic colours of the said improvisation that guides the DYCI2 agents.

“The idea," explains Jérôme Nika, "is that Rémi suggests to Dicy2, with just a few notes, the harmonic universe in which it will evolve, after which Dicy2 lives its own life... It's a discovery that came to us during the improvisation, which we hadn't at all planned or formalised beforehand!”

Live music in Athens (listen from 11min for the analyzed part)

As far as the voice is concerned, we notice that Coleman Hawkins' spoken voice almost takes on the appearance of a sung voice, following Rémi's saxophone more or less faithfully.

This Athenian improvisation by the duo 'C'est pour ça' will appear on their album, to be released in the coming months. In our next episode, we'll look at another track from this same album: In order of appearance.