Following up on the legacy of Gavin Bryars’ Portsmouth Sinfonia in the 1970s, we proposed a concert by a ready-made guitar ensemble of non-guitarists: the absolute rule for participants was they could not have no prior experience in playing guitar – maybe they even had an aversion to it! Non-musicians were preferred, but musicians could participate if their regular instrument was not a guitar.
Participants built short pieces collectively from scratch in the morning, with the goal of performing a concert that same evening. The mood was informal, meditative and improvisational, punctuated by short discussions and adjustments. There was a tendency towards mantras. The guitars were explored in their totality: strings, frame, percussive qualities, as receptacles, as design objects. RTP made a short piece that played a few times on public television.
The concert took the shape of a recital, the guitar ensemble being led by each participant in sequence. Paulo was invited to provide infra-sounds on his moog, as a dynamic underlying texture. All were amazed by how such a leap into unknown creative territories can reward, inspire and teach.
The lab will continue; new events will take place, and at least one edition of the collected audio is being prepared.
Are we a band? We’ll find out.