Interview with Didier Aschour
When did you start playing the guitar and why? What did you study and what is your musical background?
I started playing the guitar at 11. I saw a guitar at a friend’s house and I thought it was the most wonderfull thing to have! I started to study at the conservatory of my home town.
What were and are your main musical influences?
I studied classical guitar but I listenned to jazz and rock music: Jimi Hendrix and Django Reinhardt are the guitarists I’ve listenned the most as a young musician. Classical players who were influent are Julian Bream and my teacher Roberto Aussel. I became engaged in contemporary music at the end of my studies at Paris Conservatory and the influences were more composers than players.
I saw you play a lot of contemporary composers’ music,I’m very interested about minimalist music so what did you play about Philip Glass and Steve Reich?
Reich: Electric Counterpoint and Nagoya guitars.
Glass: Music With Changing Parts, Two Pages… with my ensemble Dedalus.
With Ensemble Dedalus you played Rational Melodies by Tom Johnson, how did you meet him and his music? Have you played too his solo pieces for guitar?
I met Tom long time ago, he was a mentor for me and for many musicians in France interested by American music. I met him through a friend, Frederic Lagnau, pianist and composer, who was Dedalus pianist for years.
Tom wrote for me arpeggios for solo guitar but I also played some rational melodies for solo guitar and a recent piece: Tinkelenberg Rhythms.
You have played also Phill Niblock and Harry Partch music… what did you played?
Partch was a major influence! I rebuilt the Adapted guitar and played Barstow and December 42 a song cycle for voice and guitar.
I played Sethwork and First Out by Niblock as well as ensemble pieces.
How did you start the Ensemble Dedalus?
Dedalus was founded to play the music we liked but couldn’t listen to ! American minimal music. It was completly rejected in France and still does by contemporay academic institutions. I discovered that most of the scores we played had open instrumentation: it became the trademark of Dedalus. This leads to a stronger implication from the musicians and a kind of rockband spirit in the rehearsals!
How do you express your “musical form” both under execution that improvisation? How did your instruments changed the way you play and think about music?
Open scores are somehow between improvisation and interpretation, a kind of composition too. I play mostly electric guitar with Dedalus with an hybrid technic built through years of playing this kind of music. I now enjoy also playing acoustic guitars when its possible.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
Experimental music mixes more and more musicians from impro, rock and classical. I’m currently working on a project with a japanese percussionist which combines impro and open form compositions. I think these categories (impro/interpretation) are less relevant nowdays.
If you listen to a different interpretation of a song you already played and you want to perform do you take care of this listening or do you prefer to proceed in complete independence?
I like to know what people do, how they perform a piece, maybe it’s a good way to do something else .
I sometimes feel that in our time the history of the music flow with no particular interest in its chronological course, in our disco-music library before and after, the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could this be a risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision?
There is a tendancy in new classical music to mix different styles. This leads to a kind of uniformity and less radicality. Only good ideas and sounding efficency… That’s when your hear the result not the process maybe.
What are your essential five discs, always to have with you .. the classic five records for the desert island ..?
Music I’ve never heard!
Who would you like to play and who would you like to play? What music do you usually listen to?
I start new collaborations all the time and I’m pleased to share the music with other musicians. I try to listen to the CDs that were given by friends and people I met.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
Beside this new project (impro/interpretation) with Seijiro Murayama, many new projects with Dedalus, new pieces and new performances of seminal pieces.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” I think you have a great talent, but … what is your vision?
Local stuff! Music as a social activity, friendship and adventurous spirit. Trying to make music in accordance with what we are more than with what is expected. True singularity.