what is slow music?

there is a quick and less quick answer to the question: "what is slow music?"

the quick answer is that slow music is an opportunity for six pretty good and very experienced musicians to improvise and have fun playing together while experimenting within a particular context.

the longer answer is:

the idea for slow music has been floating around for a few years now. i'm not quite sure where it came from or how it started, but it came from wanting to hear a certain kind of music that i wasn't finding.

here are the main points of slow music:

a larger-than-usual number of musicians (in this case, six) play long-form improvisations working with ambient/textural/environmental music-ideas. this means live performance rather than programming. this means flexibility in the moment and freedom to respond. there is an unfolding and unpredictability. there is also a high degree of risk.

another primary feature of slow music is the use of space, or intentional not-playing. here, space is not empty, but filled with listening. it is active. openness and stillness become a part of the musical vocabulary, as well as density and activity, etc. listening/not-playing is, at least, of equal value to listening/playing.

because of the size of the group, individuals can play and work together without having always to do something. in slow music, the default contributions are to rest and listen, rather than to play. this puts playing into a new context. the energy and intensity under these conditions can be surprisingly energetic and intense.

i think that the key to all of this is active listening - for both the audience and the peformer. this may seem obvious to say and fundamental to music-making, but in practice it's always much harder, particularly in hazardous conditions like improvising. listening keeps us alert and present to the performance. if the performers are alert and present, the audience will sense this and respond in kind.

this is all largely experimental - as we cross the bridge, we are also building it.

slow music:

is slow

is music

is improvised

is based in performance

takes its time

is risky

is intense

relies on listening

features both space and sound

is process based

is experimental

is invigorating.

is fun.

     --Bill Rieflin

slow players

Peter Buck
Fred Chalenor
Matt Chamberlain
Robert Fripp
Bill Rieflin
Hector Zazou