Music Factory

Feature: Music Factory 100

This week we feature the finale of Music Factory. Listen for Angelo D'Angelo's epic entrance about 5 minutes in on the alto saxophone. He single-handedly rouses a contemplative ensemble and ushers them up to the ramparts one last time for an inspiring finish.

Feature: Music Factory 9

This week's feature takes us to the very first afternoon of Music Factory. At this point, a few hours into the event, the patience afforded by the distant time horizon started to make itself felt. A web of periodic rhythm emerged, led by a contingent of string players. Their intense listening allowed our sails to fill, sending us on our four day journey.

Weekly Feature: Music Factory 99

To kick off our Weekly Feature series, we've chosen one of many remarkable excerpts from last year's 84-hour collective improvisation, Music Factory. This is the second to last segment and it is clear that four days of continuous development have created a special focus and intensity. Unfortunately, the organizers were somewhat overwhelmed by the scope of the event and weren't able to record exactly when each of the performers joined in from moment to moment, but the following musicians are audible in this interval:

Notes on Music Factory

I participated in the Music Factory event at Eyebeam, a continuous improvisation over four days, with over fifty musicians. Most of my playing was in the morning and afternoon; the larger ensembles were at night. I used a number of instruments, including recorders (tenor, garkleinflote, and soprano), chromatic harmonica, classical guitar, ukulele, sung lisu, oud, cura cumbus, pipa, violin, viola, sarangi, and electric saz. Many of these have a 'natural' fundamental or even drones; the pipa for example is tuned A-D-E-a (depending on the chosen pitch).


I think linking improvisation to jazz and jazz alone is really limiting; it's why the notion of jam session comes up in the first place. Improvisation has been critical, for example, to much mid-eastern music, as well as Hindustani and some Karnatic musics as well. There are improvisers on all sorts of instruments in all sorts of genres. Part of the difficulty I find is with 'world music' which to me seems to strip improvisational traditions in favor of fairly limited tonal and rhythmic worlds. The result is a narrowly-defined improvisation that too often falls flat.

    November 29, 2012

Is it a Jam Session?

One response that I have gotten several times when I describe Music Factory to someone who isn't a musician is, "'s like a big jam session, right?" That's actually a great question, since jam sessions do have interesting features from a economic point of view, which can help us to unravel some of our assumptions about music.

    November 27, 2012

What is Music Factory?

Music Factory is based on a simple idea: that innovation in an art form is constrained to the extent that the conditions of production that make it possible are constrained. If this is true, then one of the tasks of the creative musicians is to grapple directly with the economic sandbox within which their music takes place. This is rarely done. Almost all of the musical heroes of our time continue to fit their work into roughly one hour slots, which are easy to package and sell.