Progressions: Toward a Poetic Improvisation of Listening


Brian Schorn



A Note on the Writing

The words included in this paper are an attempt to create a writing environment parallel to that of musical improvisation. This was achieved by using the Surrealist technique of automatic writing while listening to a representative number of improvised recordings. The process was simple: press 'play' on the CD player and begin writing, without stopping, until the end of the track. Some of the shorter tracks were revisited, so the process was repeated, resulting in an act similar to a second or third take in jazz music.

The writing is a free, spontaneously generated stream of consciousness fully stimulated by the music. As a result, content roams actively, logic is, for the most part, abolished while vivid imagery and emotion develops in sync with the direction of the music. The title for each piece of writing is a freely associated 'riff' using the composer/performer's original title as the foundation. Ultimately, this writing exemplifies the presence of 'personal narratives' as discussed by George Lewis and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in their critical writings on this subject.

Six classifications of improvisation and nine composer/performers were used to generate the writings including: Indeterminacy (Christian Wolff), Graphic Scores (John Cage, Fred Frith, Rudolph Komorous, Morton Feldman), Freedom (AMM), Jazz Innovation (George Russell), Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (Art Ensemble of Chicago) and European Free Music (Hans Reichel).




I just let it happen.

…unknown poetry in which I can progress.

—Anthony Pay


Listening is equally an exercise in existence.

—Eddie Prévost


A Stool for Violence or Possibility I
for Christian Wolff

Uneven hesitated, lifted delicately into a chance of lucid pairs. You seem to pluck the waves of understanding left solid and gentle. Or how you choose to react in an uneven manner indicates how you squeal literally for the keeping of a silver tickle. Happening forward, we skip the particles that mean the most. We lift without hesitation the significance of a controlled stew, the evening depth of all our uneasiness. Everything breathes you say, then everything breathes. Nothing is breathing, so we duende altogether by way of the frost melted off by noon.


A Stool for Violence or Possibility II
for Christian Wolff

Lighter than the level set to frequently blunder. Active incomparable objects divided into the lost essence of misplaced treasure. You weld to the tense time sack of blown proportion. Discipline does not mean the dirty skins have been rewarded their list to do the marriage of flicked or borrowed singing.


A Stool for Violence or Possibility III
for Christian Wolff

Confused. Relinquished. The uncontrolled living dropping pins as favors to smooth. Elements of nature condensed into cobras. Side-stepped or silk strewn about. Stay on the steps now as if a gang of liberated going makes your eye go there. Down. Go there and shout the single most compression of too many times. Stop the story space that goes to bed each night. Sunk. Swept into passages transformed unduly divine.


Variable Intentions I
for John Cage

Very good intention guided by all the clubs and contusions. A simple nothing saying this is equal in the temple of having no trouble. Overall length magnified by the root of wanting more. Whispered twang continues to efface the favorite stories trapped between the legs of Japanese beetles. Hard case because I am soft. Worried about edges nowhere. Everything makes the use turned upside down. But what is the captured demeanor you insist upon? This wind is wound to points and lines, marking the boundary of how our hairs grow. Repeat the worst, "I wish I slapped the guards of my centering something." This can be the effort of the conversation intended to tame the things we don't see. Yes, maybe the cracks in the window are a sign of gentle caress.


Gentle Jump
for Fred Frith

Cried through the full compass twitch having hit the scene without knowing, deadly. Slowly the ease, flakes in early dawn demise. Boiled maps escaping as a civilization of petrified bird wings whisked through each attempt to embark on pain pushed both north and south. Divide your hurting life into vapors of mice, so you can lift your eyes, ripped out as pebbles. Broken sentiment doubled as a system of limping happy dog life. Squeeze that this gone, watch the shapes smooth away, and don't drag the trampoline so fun. Wrinkled crazy death mat wavered, sliced, wicked, tipped, tongued down every worn alley. Scoured up dungeon dragging diagrams only numbed up, knocked out, crash-landed dregs. Many, many cave lives left to weep. The dirty pores of always lengthy snails. Battery of beatings leave the margin of details dim. Crept completely close to the heat framed by pears half gone for another rest. All other substitutions murmur of coughs in a weakened state of hysteria. Only now can the liberty of my front door open without a squelch.


Only This
for Rudolf Komorous

Corrupt conjunctions stand up to a twittering lament. Gone in circles. Thistle. That thousand time signal sent to the general public, blown up and landed over there. Snake pit. Don't do that! Double this! Extruded into points of caramel led astray. Say the birds will ring thirty gongs throughout the day. Thistle. Parted selves of growing books converge into wafers on mountainsides of apprehension. Go.


for Rudolf Komorous

Depth charged funeral lingering through the tiny tinctures of formal ties. Simplified instructions extend for now, forging offness of the self, even winced at the forgetting long sunken or slipped. Distances develop as the texture of liver strewn thinner than the blackest of blanket rage.


Sweat Queen
for Rudolf Komorous

All done, adorned with the wilt imposed by demons. Decided to make the dust rot subtle. Sleep the light from berries out of hindsight denied. Interpret no more without me.


First Perfection
for Morton Feldman

Although I box courage to plow the courtyard free of clutter, I know no escape. Offer the delicate attention so much a surrender laid down to ask me there. You chart the captured clash of left-right-left. Roll over, now it is time to eat some colored punches. Wait. Pleasurable distance makes a horse run like the seclusion of its cause.


Third Exception
for Morton Feldman

Completed the extra process to fluff up the measure of bound acts, thus kind and clever pillowed awakening. Here or there in the lighted hallway that says you stand there like squares of bread rising in the morning sun. Spread the butter with bacon and watch the traffic move around like swirling seeds. Lessened, we keep hundreds of trinkets in our pockets to remind us of the lives we've lost. Cracked or shattered arms sent home with extra postage. Tasted the result of waiting to determine the wanting.


A Mental Slice
for AMM

A couple encounters sliced slowly, maybe silently in a sliver of a morning most cumbersome. Here, greeting killer whales as they hit the house sideways, staying inside to keep the warm or the nice intact. Earthenware slowly cracked out a map that leads to the inside of your craft. Stories of raw meat having accidentally taken the time to leave us and find other places to grip or spoil. Harsh attention pleases the other side of muscular drought. Whole arms laid to rest as logs pushed out to sea. The wavering temptation to excuse the sun and see clearly is a jargon of oceans dumb with recent departure. The "mis-" part of words broken off, making friends with lovely failure. Floats the way to, in and out of making it all happen, maybe too tight. The severance is drenched in moonlight, so tell me you are there. Yes, I convert the smile in your throat as you glaze the inevitable construction of sliding away. Open the door of hours. Help the air out in order to lift yourself into daylight. Lay down beside the natural twist you make with your fingers. The tiny lives controlled in a constant mishing and mashing. Languished throughout, you walk into tomorrow and wipe the end off the fruits having played your face. You are the elapsed inquiry of time, of tinkered things. You push the pepper into doorjambs posing as days lost in danger or detail. Dig out the orientation of your longing such that it blends like ants in pores of lace adorned with reason. Illuminate how you tend to tip from side to side as you lose the chasm that holds you together. Upright angels through arches of pummeled indignation. The punctuation is mere meat to creep in. No more elevation of the taste to leave here. A statue of the definition unfolds into my bed that I see through hairs. Each contact of the saw blade leaves more for you to see, each softened compartment confirmed by echoes sliced into earth. Come into the already awareness of leftover caricatures. This is all a part of the beauty of well-groomed grass manifest as infinity. Grateful inclusion of delicate explosions catered to spoons or the dangling expanse of your solarized mouth parts.


Chromosome Verse Part I
for George Russell

Uncranked intergalactic conditions disguised as an empty flask of around-the-corner episodes sipping everyday life. Living except laughter as the tongue flips through portraits of starts exposing tomorrow's toothy smile. The impossible capsule of out-there transportation whirled through depths of just becoming a tiny, happy flair.


Chromosome Verse Part II

for George Russell

A few extra myths have slapped the leather well, have commodified the colors of dawn working their way through gracious mountain refrain. Downtown walkways even come up black through the roots of clouds. Wishful barge pushing, pulling out the warbling ligaments ensconced in gifts washed there as stars or heavy spots.


Chromosome Verse Part II: Reconsidered

for George Russell

Play in the determined land of folksy uncovered dilemmas. Warped regularly in delightful infections clung to rituals uncovered, thus flattened flavors including each grommet tied to the seat of your sliding. Mornings more corrupt, so we slightly approach. This darling day flung throughout the canvas of our sunken selves.


Chromosome Verse Part III
for George Russell

To tease the delivery completes the confusion crept from the unity of our underparts. The cosmic carrier of all denial let loose to flap into countless days of crushed property. Horses galloping through gifts of grandiose clocks, the trot so tempered by touches without the wonder of the want disturbs the entrance and says "No more." Here is some joy, some everything to sip on, so the sip includes swinging the unknown for more than quarters.


A Sense of
for Art Ensemble of Chicago

Only the swiftest songbirds uncaged. Now, this is some bitter dreaming to lose the hardened diasporic touch. Help the ringing of lost trouble lay low in the marsh of untold starting. Go to other entwined darted traditions of a probably belief bounced trajectory. Sift through the accountable past-time of completely cooled streams, fling the ever pleasant eclipse into nights we see coming. Elsewhere the condition of possessive hands of faces thrust in the street light and the memory of common sense. Let him say the spontaneous toughness on his fingertips, say the tough other in a silent tug of war. Understood more as a passing train than the history of spices afloat in your soup. Please tell me the things left to pass by, tell us all the lightening suites having come to visit. Say hello and whimper as the survival of daylight lifts up all started stops. Go on over there, swift slots having gone so far. Jerks and paper bones fighting the length of Africa. Hours keep playing the crime on the edge singled out as a motif of collapsing handshakes. Worthwhile touch of temples torn from the thickness of each flicker, flipped, then flashed into exhaustion. The bounce of templates off to the no-world. Stay here, linked.


for Hans Reichel
A comfortable tingle of stretched sublime, leapt from demands said square. Tender tide of compulsion torn to separate leaves of a blown size (equator of the punch). Bagged acceptance or rejection taking place in harrowing dimensions ignored by the disasters of dictionaries? Seen. Please more rapture pulled political as a sworn cap carried to the wooden bottom you've prepared.


Maybe Too
for Hans Reichel

This in the contradiction crafted from the lips of crepe paper. Slippery tugs telling the tapestry to wiggle, to slap or slip into the calves of men already flavored with well-being. Still figures of women might spit if the moments delve into complete reminiscence. This is the happen that is so.


The Wealth in Death
for Hans Reichel

Crumbling already enough countries keep the swiftness of softness alive in a blaze of falling. Steep under the cuts of knock-down to take the wooden ball away. Thrown out of the cleaving expanse drawn so near. Unraveled from wheat, ever so sweet the digging sensation of pulses pulled out and examined (compulsion to bury thumbtacks moved further away). Today explodes into pieces of fortification wasted in an attempt to actualize everyone left standing. Swaggering democratic from tin-tin tortures. Plummet the aviary of fragrant swells and include the whistle of exposed flint. Tell these airs to make a mistake of the night to cancel it out. Play this scraped tangle and club the blubber to please. Establish each hit as a time to use your senses accurately, to reach out the welcomed surface left partly in the noonday sun. Harbors held on to for the sake of keeping time. How about the dimple of division poured into moons that define weeping from sleeping? Escape the misguided corpse in evidence of the slack. Slowly cushioned back and forth, so creeps the collisions that hardly martyr the inches of confusion made to test aloud. No more tides to move easily through the crank of night.





AMM. The Nameless Uncarved Rock. Matchless Recordings, MR 20, 1991
Art Ensemble of Chicago. Ancient to the Future. DIW Records, DIW-804, 1987
Cage, John. The New York School. Hat Hut, Hat Art CD 6191, 1991
Feldman, Morton. The New York School. Hat Hut, Hat Art CD 6191, 1991
Frith, Fred. Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood, Wire: Graphic Scores 1986–96. I Dischi Di Angelica, IDA 014, 1999
Komorous, Rudolf. Czech New Music of the 1960s. Arta Records, F1 0048-2, 1994
Reichel, Hans. The Death of the Rare Bird Ymir. Free Music Productions, FMP CD54, 1993
Russell, George. Jazz in the Space Age. GRP Records, GRD-826, 1998
Wolff, Christian. I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman—Chamber Works, Volume 2. Mode, Mode 69, 1998

AMM. AMMMusic. ReR AMMCD, 1989. (liner notes)
Bailey, Derek. Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music. New York: Da Capo, 1992
Coleman, Ornette. Skies of America. Columbia/Legacy CK 63568, 1993. (liner notes)
Cutler, Chris. File Under Popular: Theoretical and Critical Writings on Music. London: Rer MegaCorp, 1991
Lewis, George E. 'Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives.' BMR Journal. (pp. 91–121)
Lewis, George E. 'Singing Omar's Song: A (Re)construction of Great Black Music.' Lenox Avenue. (pp. 69–92)
Nyman, Michael. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999
Ra, Sun. When Angels Speak of Love. Evidence ECD 22216, 2000. (liner notes)
Wilson, Peter Niklas. Ornette Coleman: His Life and Music. Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1999


Brian Schorn is an interdisciplinary artist. He received an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College where he studied with Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Alvin Curran, Maggie Payne and Chris Brown. In addition, he received an MFA in creative writing from Brown University where he studied with Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop and CD Wright. Schorn's music has been performed in France, The Netherlands, Austria, New York and elsewhere throughout the United States. His music appears on the compilation releases "Clinical Jazz," "Open Source/Open Ear" and "The Last Signal." In 2008, he released his first collection of electronic, text-sound compositions on the internet label Cyclene Records. Recently, Schorn's graphic scores were published in Notations21: An Anthology of Innovative Notation. He is the author of Strabismus published by Burning Deck. New poems were recently published in the journal Unsaid.











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