PoL # 39 Improvise, because you’re not a record! An introduction to the London Musicians’ Collective archive

With Andrea Zarza Canova
Date: Friday February 23rd, 2018
Time: 18:00
Venue: London College of Communication
Meet at main reception (directions)
Free. Booking required.
To reserve a place email: markpeterwright@gmail.com

The London Musicians’ Collective (LMC) was founded in the mid-1970’s by a small group of experimental and improvising musicians in London, United Kingdom. In tune with the nature of improvisation and the cultural politics of the time, the organisation was based on collective principles, with an open membership whose responsibility it was to decide policy and initiate activities through attendance at monthly meetings. Over the next three decades it evolved as an open membership collective attracting successive generations of musicians, improvisers, sound poets, sound artists, instrument builders and performance artists interested in pursuing their practice outside the commercial criteria of the music business.

This Points of Listening session will explore the history of the LMC through its archive, currently housed at the University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre (ASCC). Posters, newsletters, calendars and photographs will allow us to delve into the activities of the collective and grasp LMC’s evolution over the three decades of its existence. We will also play back fragments from selected interviews made with founding members of the collective in 2017 and extracts from sound recordings of performances.

Drawing on archival material and sound recordings, the session will illustrate the interplay between improvisation as a musical practice and the LMC’s functioning as a collective. It will also trace different ways in which the term ‘improvisation’ was used by members of the LMC, and question the deficiencies that sound recordings have in documenting ephemeral artistic practices such as improvised music and performance art. Finally, a collective thinking session will be proposed to think about what a similar organisation would look like in 2018. This will take the LMC’s “draft rules” from 1976 as its starting point.

Andrea Zarza (1986) is an archivist and curator with a degree in philosophy. She was born in Madrid, Spain, has lived in London since 2011, and works at the British Library Sound Archive. She has worked with the London Musicians’ Collective Archive at the University of the Arts London Archive and Special Collections Centre, at the Deep Listening Institute (Kingston, NY, USA) and the Pacific Radio Archives (Los Angeles, CA, USA). She has curated sound installations for David Byrne’s Meltdown Festival (Southbank Centre, London) and the No Play NGBK exhibition (Berlin, Germany) and produced radio programmes for NTS, BBC 3, Resonance FM and RRS Radio Reina Sofía. Her record label, Mana Records, run with Matthew Kent, publishes works at the intersection of contemporary and archival sound. She has recently co-curated the exhibition Charivaria (CentroCentro Gallery, Madrid, Spain) with José Luis Espejo, which analyses how people position themselves in public space with sound, through stories about blacksmiths, bells and sirens, cowbells, festivals, travelling musicians, protests, carnivals and rites.

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