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Michel Delville: Guitar, Improv & Electro

Jean-Pierre Goffin By

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AAJ: How would you describe your guitar sound?

MD: My guitar sound is characterized by a fair amount of distortion, which does not always please the ears of certain jazz listeners! This being said, prog rock promoters are generally much more conservative than the jazz scene. A band like "Aka Moon," to cite one of our Belgian glories, would not have been taken seriously if jazz producers had a narrow mentality. As far as I am concerned, my heavily distorted sound has always gone down pretty well with jazz audiences in Belgium and abroad. I also use the Roland guitar synth quite a lot, which is another useful addition to my sonic palette.

AAJ: Improvisation is a major ingredient in your music. Is it a form which needs to be worked upon?

MD: At the risk of sounding trite, improvisation is one of those things which you cannot learn at music academies and conservatories—it requires a substantial musical background, a knowledge of past and present forms. Derek Bailey once said: "Improvisation is not knowing what it is until you do it, composition is not doing it until you know what it is." Still, we all know that "freedom" and "unpredictability" in musical improvisation is a myth, one which is closely connected with the ideal of "pure" spontaneity cherished by the Surrealists. To me the great improvisers have succeeded in developing a specific sound which is immediately recognizable. At any rate, improvisation is an attitude which integrates the mannerisms and developing styles of a given musician; it is the opposite of "formlessness" and it does not necessarily give you a sense of "freedom." What I like to do in my own work is create the illusion that the improvised parts are written and that written pieces are improvised, so that listeners are caught in a state of option.

Photo Credit
Elisabeth Waltregny

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