Improvising Freely, written by classically trained French improviser Lê Quan Ninh, is a translation from French into English by the Canadian philosopher and poet Karen Houle. This PS Guelph edition contains new material not found in either of the previous two French editions. Containing nearly 80 short, lyrical reflections on all manner of experiences—psychological, material, political, social—this book emerges from Lê Quan's lifelong vocation as a cutting-edge improvisational sound artist.
Lê Quan chose the organizational form of an 'Abécédaire' (or what in English is called 'An ABC of..') because it permitted him to construct a level of non-linearity in the subject matter, appropriately reflecting the nature of the work of making improvised music. As he writes, the form of the ABC arbitrarily set us up lovely echoes for the reader between ideas that happen to find themselves placed next to one another, like books on a shelf catalogued by colour, or size. Delightfully, the shift from French to English scrambled even that system ('pédagogie' is now found under E for 'education', followed by 'freedom' which used to be found under L for 'liberté'). All the way from 'abandon' to 'zero', Improvising Freely digs poetically deeply into the experiences of improvisation.