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In this first installment of acclaimed music writer David Toop's interdisciplinary and sweeping overview of free improvisation, Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 introduces the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise) within the historical context of the post-World War II era. Neither strictly chrono In this first installment of acclaimed music writer David Toop's interdisciplinary and sweeping overview of free improvisation, Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 introduces the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise) within the historical context of the post-World War II era. Neither strictly chronological, or exclusively a history, Into the Maelstrom investigates a wide range of improvisational tendencies: from surrealist automatism to stream-of-consciousness in literature and vocalization; from the free music of Percy Grainger to the free improvising groups emerging out of the early 1960s (Group Ongaku, Nuova Consonanza, MEV, AMM, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble); and from free jazz to the strands of free improvisation that sought to distance itself from jazz. In exploring the diverse ways in which spontaneity became a core value in the early twentieth century as well as free improvisation's connection to both 1960s rock (The Beatles, Cream, Pink Floyd) and the era of post-Cagean indeterminacy in composition, Toop provides a definitive and all-encompassing exploration of free improvisation up to 1970, ending with the late 1960s international developments of free music from Roscoe Mitchell in Chicago, Peter Brötzmann in Berlin and Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg in Amsterdam.


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In this first installment of acclaimed music writer David Toop's interdisciplinary and sweeping overview of free improvisation, Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 introduces the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise) within the historical context of the post-World War II era. Neither strictly chrono In this first installment of acclaimed music writer David Toop's interdisciplinary and sweeping overview of free improvisation, Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 introduces the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise) within the historical context of the post-World War II era. Neither strictly chronological, or exclusively a history, Into the Maelstrom investigates a wide range of improvisational tendencies: from surrealist automatism to stream-of-consciousness in literature and vocalization; from the free music of Percy Grainger to the free improvising groups emerging out of the early 1960s (Group Ongaku, Nuova Consonanza, MEV, AMM, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble); and from free jazz to the strands of free improvisation that sought to distance itself from jazz. In exploring the diverse ways in which spontaneity became a core value in the early twentieth century as well as free improvisation's connection to both 1960s rock (The Beatles, Cream, Pink Floyd) and the era of post-Cagean indeterminacy in composition, Toop provides a definitive and all-encompassing exploration of free improvisation up to 1970, ending with the late 1960s international developments of free music from Roscoe Mitchell in Chicago, Peter Brötzmann in Berlin and Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg in Amsterdam.

30 review for Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970

  1. 5 out of 5

    Djll

    Very fine study from someone who was there to see most of it take place. Toop doesn't just concentrate on the 1960s and 70s, though; he goes far back to the early part of the 20th century to begin his overview. The writing is top notch; nuanced and subtle, even poetic at many points, and never dipping far into academese (although there were a few words I'd never seen before). Toop allows himself to meander a bit, through well-defined parameters, much like the music under discussion. Highest recomm Very fine study from someone who was there to see most of it take place. Toop doesn't just concentrate on the 1960s and 70s, though; he goes far back to the early part of the 20th century to begin his overview. The writing is top notch; nuanced and subtle, even poetic at many points, and never dipping far into academese (although there were a few words I'd never seen before). Toop allows himself to meander a bit, through well-defined parameters, much like the music under discussion. Highest recommendation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Enrico Ribeiro

    3,5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Very interesting survey, though to be honest I think I preferred the earlier parts of the book about cultural precursors to the free improv scene. In sections I think Toop's status as a participant and friend of many of the key figures is more of a hindrance than a help, particularly towards the end as the book sprawls and becomes overstuffed with lengthy block quotes from his personal correspondence with Derek Bailey (whose writing, I'm sorry to say, is NOT as interesting as his playing). Still Very interesting survey, though to be honest I think I preferred the earlier parts of the book about cultural precursors to the free improv scene. In sections I think Toop's status as a participant and friend of many of the key figures is more of a hindrance than a help, particularly towards the end as the book sprawls and becomes overstuffed with lengthy block quotes from his personal correspondence with Derek Bailey (whose writing, I'm sorry to say, is NOT as interesting as his playing). Still, a great book that put me on to a lot of cool things (musical and otherwise) I'd never been exposed to before.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A fascinating read,Toop balances the view from a practitioner as well as an academic on the early-ish history of free improvised music,from pre-John Cage through to performers like Derek Bailey,and an unsettling chapter on Lennon/Ono - (unsettling that is if you look up and listen to the recording,like many of his examples- but there are many gems along the way; such as Tony Oxley's.record ’A Baptised Traveller' for example). He is good on digging out obscurities that live well out of the mainstr A fascinating read,Toop balances the view from a practitioner as well as an academic on the early-ish history of free improvised music,from pre-John Cage through to performers like Derek Bailey,and an unsettling chapter on Lennon/Ono - (unsettling that is if you look up and listen to the recording,like many of his examples- but there are many gems along the way; such as Tony Oxley's.record ’A Baptised Traveller' for example). He is good on digging out obscurities that live well out of the mainstream of musical taste and as usual,takes the practice of improvisation seriously in all its forms. A book to return to.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cobertizo

    "Siéntate, no hagas nada: esto es improvisación. Permite que pensamientos extraviados, temblores interiores e impresiones sensoriales atraviesen tu cuerpo. Escuchar es improvisar: un continuo seleccionar, filtrar, priorizar, situar, resistir, comparar, evaluar, rechazar y encontrar placer en sonidos y ausencias de sonidos; implica hacer evaluaciones inmediatas y predictivas de múltiples capas de señales, tanto específicas como amorfas, y balancearlas contra la pensar antes de actuar actuar antes "Siéntate, no hagas nada: esto es improvisación. Permite que pensamientos extraviados, temblores interiores e impresiones sensoriales atraviesen tu cuerpo. Escuchar es improvisar: un continuo seleccionar, filtrar, priorizar, situar, resistir, comparar, evaluar, rechazar y encontrar placer en sonidos y ausencias de sonidos; implica hacer evaluaciones inmediatas y predictivas de múltiples capas de señales, tanto específicas como amorfas, y balancearlas contra la pensar antes de actuar actuar antes de pensar actuar en la oscuridad estática interna del pensamiento"

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex Delogu

    An engaging look at the roots of improvised music pre-1960. Toop manages to weave a narrative that is both personal and historical, searching but never quite finding the source, but always seems to be going somewhere. I'm looking forward to part two. An engaging look at the roots of improvised music pre-1960. Toop manages to weave a narrative that is both personal and historical, searching but never quite finding the source, but always seems to be going somewhere. I'm looking forward to part two.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    There aren't many books on this subject, so for the fan/participant this is a must read. Surprised me at turns, and left me looking forward to the post 1970 installment. There aren't many books on this subject, so for the fan/participant this is a must read. Surprised me at turns, and left me looking forward to the post 1970 installment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    David Toop, for me, is the ideal artist who also writes profound and inspiring books on music culture and its history. To read any of his books is like having the greatest driver take you to unannounced routes through cultural history. "Into the Maelstrom..." is a book that addresses the nature of musicians and composers dealing with the issue of improvisation. The range of artists that are written about in this book is absolutely amazing. The beautiful thing is Toop was also in the height of th David Toop, for me, is the ideal artist who also writes profound and inspiring books on music culture and its history. To read any of his books is like having the greatest driver take you to unannounced routes through cultural history. "Into the Maelstrom..." is a book that addresses the nature of musicians and composers dealing with the issue of improvisation. The range of artists that are written about in this book is absolutely amazing. The beautiful thing is Toop was also in the height of the scene during the 1960s - so his views are both personal as well as a history of music being made and recorded throughout the 20th century. Technically "Into the Maelstrom" deals with improvised music made before 1970 - but reading this, I don't feel the book is contained by an era or a set of years. It's more about the spirit of making such music, and what it means to its audience/listeners as well as the musicians themselves. Also one gathers the limits/issues/and politics of making improvised music. It's not only music, but it is also how humans interact with others, and making art out of chaos. Toop has an encyclopedic knowledge of literature and music. What makes him a great writer is that he is able to use those tools to tell a remarkable narrative, but also smart (and entertaining) writer in that he can bounce off one idea from another. Here in astonishing detail you get the band Cream to Nuova Consonanza (Morricone is/was in this group) to Ornette Coleman and beyond. Also a focus on Fluxus music making as well as various visual artists/musicians from Europe/Japan. There are so many obscure artists mentioned, but the great thing there is also a fantastic discography in the back of the book for future investigations. Perfect book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikita

  10. 4 out of 5

    Owen Redmond

  11. 4 out of 5

    Herb

  12. 4 out of 5

    eric

  13. 5 out of 5

    G

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Anderson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Margree

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alan Tofighi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Goff

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  21. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mila Doc

  23. 5 out of 5

    angelica

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bellevie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Richardson

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Muchiri

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  29. 5 out of 5

    Will Parker

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chateubriand

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