Electric Cowboy Cacophony: A Project for Cross-genre Free Improvisation

By Michael Edwards.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Electric Cowboy Cacophony is a quartet of musicians from different countries and with distinct musical backgrounds, ranging from rock to avant-garde classical, from bluegrass to computer music. In the second half of 2008 they met to record and publicly perform free improvisations that exploited both their common and diverse musical histories, re-injecting some of the roots elements that many Free Improvisation practitioners consciously avoid.
Above all the group’s trans-national/trans-cultural/trans-aesthetic character defines their sound world. The result could be interpreted as either a cohesive and convincing eclecticism, or a jarring mish-mash of unconnected stylistic oddities. Together with a general discussion of the role of improvisation in Western music, Electric Cowboy Cacophony’s working methods and musical results are presented: from the point of view of their techniques, technological innovation and interaction, and aesthetic/stylistic coherence.

Keywords: Music, Free Improvisation, Computer Music, Live Electronics, Guitar, Piano, Banjo, Saxophone, Synthesiser, Eclecticism, DVD-audio, Surround Sound

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.51-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.148MB).

Dr. Michael Edwards

Reader in Music Technology, Music, School of Arts, Culture and Environment, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Born Cheshire, England, 1968. Studied oboe then composition at Bristol University with Adrian Beaumont (1986-91); privately with Gwyn Pritchard; and computer music with John Chowning at CCRMA, Stanford University (1991-96). Consultant software engineer in Silicon Valley (1996-97); Guest Professor at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg (1997-2002); currently Reader at the University of Edinburgh. Compositional interests lie in the development of algorithmic composition structures for instrumental music and the integration of these within similarly generated computer-processed sound structures and live electronics. Also active as an improvisor on laptop, saxophones, and MIDI wind controller.

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