Jazz musician Wolfgang Schmiedt has worked with numerous artists, and he derives his most important message for non-artistic fields from these joint efforts: “How you can build something based on communication, if you listen to each other, this is a trait you may be able to learn from improvising musicians.”
The stage is a platform for communication in many ways, both with the public and between the active musicians. Wolfgang Schmiedt has come to appreciate exactly this during his stage career: “If that [form of communication -Ed.] can take place, you have achieved a great goal. This is opposed to performing on your own, where you do not have to share the love of the audience, but often come to focus on artistry.” Especially in collective improvisation, very special rules apply: “Improvisational ideas are not so much about building a marvellous house of harmony or creating a melody whose beauty is unsurpassed. At the end of the day, the harmonic and melodic playing only matters to some extent. Rhythmics and form are the essential, defining carriers of energy. How fast do I break off, how long do I stick with a thought. Its the arc of suspense. If this form of energy is jointly conceived, it’s all about for how long you endure it together, when you drive things even higher and louder or faster, whatever the energetic parameters may be, and about how long you can bear it logically, and by conceiving it together. One person will go only so far, and another a little further. These are the two great qualities: rhythmics and form.” In an interview with Age of Artists, Schmiedt talks about his artistic career in the GDR [East Germany before the reunification in 1990 -Ed.]: “As a musician, I had to put up with a lot, but I never let them prevent me from expressing my thoughts.This caused me quite a few problems. Personally, I definitely subscribe to the notion of autonomy. As an instrumentalist, I perceive myself in a similar way: I believe very few would say that, this guy sounds like …”
Nowadays, Schmiedt performs in bands and as a solo artist. He also teaches and participates in cultural projects. Nevertheless, he allows room for improvisation and the actual process of musical creativity: “To me, receiving stimuli is a process of being awake that lets you move through your world in an active manner.” While improvisation is all about the moment, Schmiedt also talks about the aspects of long-term project work: “It is always hard to say good-bye to something you have come up with and grown accustomed to. But the willingness to ‘kill your darlings’ is certainly a part of a professional and communicative work approach.”
Access the full interview here (German only).
Picture and Media Source: Wolfgang Schmiedt