Anderskov blog 4: Interviews I (in English)

Within his artistic research project 'Habitable Exomusics' Jacob Anderskov decided to ask a dozen internationally significant improvisers a few questions.
10. mar. 2015

Blog entries #1-3 about the project are in Danish. This one is in English. As readers of the earlier blog entries will know, I am working on an artistic research project as part of my position at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A very short recapitulation for new/ English readers:

The project is called 'Habitable Exomusics'. It focuses on what I call “definable material structuring principles in post tonal improvised or partly improvised music”.

The project includes among other things: a number of soon-to-be-released albums, an extended reflection dimension, and a number of mail-interviews with leading international improvisers of today.

My method is – in short – with the original order of events (which is not completely identical to the order things happened in):

1a: analysing my own music, find tendencies in it,

1b: researching through interviews to which extend a number of international artists think along similar terms,

1c: composing/ creating a number of prototypical (yet structurally radicalized) pieces of music within each of the structuring concepts that I find in my own music

2: performing and recording in different formats, to test the material and its applicability to improvised music.

3: Recording with an international line-up of a final product.

Generally speaking, the project has grown, and become even more comprehensive than planned, because much more music than just the final recording will be released as part of the final project presentation.

Anyway, this brings us to the INTERVIEWS:

Within the project I have decided to ask a dozen internationally significant improvisers a few questions on their considerations on their own musical language, on the grammar of post tonal music (in their own works), and on their general methodology of improvised (or partly improvised) music.

I have approached artists with certain things in common:

- I have a huge respect for all of them, and I would find their answers highly interesting,

- I believe their approach to music is somehow related (aesthetically or conceptually) to dimensions in my project,

- I have personal contact to all of them earlier,

- they are internationally recognized artists, and all of them from outside Scandinavia. I am still considering making another round of identical interviews to fellow Scandinavian artists.

After a brief introduction as above, I wrote to each of them:



“Questions are identical to all interviewees.

The SUBJECT in brief:

I am interested in to what extend leading improvisers of today are concerned with / interested in “definable post tonal material structuring principles”.

When I talk about “definable post tonal material structuring principles”, I am thinking about concepts like melodic serialism, quasi-serialism or limitation to a few intervals at a time - melodic symmetry - “cells” - “set theory” - concepts of consistency of dissonances - multiple simultaneous tonalities - tone grids and twisted spectres - etc. … (1)


– To what extend have your processes as an improviser been informed/influenced by definable material structuring principles? – e.g. from specific concepts/theories, or specific parts of recent music history.

– If applicable, which concepts were or are the most important to you?

– And, to which degree of formative importance to your musical language and approach?

(You may answer in terms of either:

  • Your formative years,
  • Your present day activities,
  • Your daily rituals/ rehearsals/practice routines,
  • Your compositional processes,
  • Your approach to improvisation in your own compositions or in other peoples music,
  • Your focus of awareness on stage, or in the recording studio, or,
  • Your view on which approaches to music you want to pass on to future generations of musicians)

– Which sources of inspiration/information now and then were most crucial to form your present day approach to music? (e.g. in music, art, literature, musicology, pedagogic materials, others…)

– Other comments or additional perspectives on your music or methods?

Best regards,

Jacob Anderskov

Note (1)

The focus in this interview on rather linguistic/rational dimensions in music is in no way meant as an indication that these are neither the only nor the most important aspects of music creation. It is just a chosen focus in this interview. And, it is an area that I feel is under-documented in the literature on improvised music.

I recently analyzed parts of my own back catalogue, and the mentioned concepts were among the most frequent in my own music, hence the mentioning of them in the interview.”

[end of quote]


While awaiting their answers over the next couple of weeks, I will try to go further into the musical structures and concepts in the project in the next 2 or more blog posts.

Stay tuned – or detuned.

Om 'Habitable Exomusics'

Det fulde overblik over projektets indhold - de kunstneriske produkter, album-trilogien, afholdte koncerter, audio- og video-links, analysetekster, node-eksempler, etc.

Om Jacob Anderskov

Jacob Anderskov er pianist, orkesterleder og komponist.


Han har udgivet over 25 albums som bandleder.


Han har modtaget adskillige priser, senest Årets Jazz Komponist 2013 til Danish Music Awards Jazz.


Jacob Anderskov er selv uddannet fra RMC i 2002 og har siden 2012 været ansat som lektor.


I Kulturministeriets definition er kunstnerisk udviklings-virksomhed en integreret del af en kunstnerisk proces, der fører frem til et offentligt tilgængeligt resultat og ledsages af en refleksion over såvel processen som præsentationen af resultatet.