Andrew MacKelvie wants you to hear the silence

Halifax-based saxophonist talks improv music and his upcoming show.

click to enlarge “If silence is like a timbre, silence has a quality and that quality is part of the room, how can I then start to influence that quality?” - SUBMITTED
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“If silence is like a timbre, silence has a quality and that quality is part of the room, how can I then start to influence that quality?”

Sounding Evolution: Andrew MacKelvie w/Lukas Pearse, Geordie Haley
Monday, April 10, 8pm
1313 Hollis, 1313 Hollis Street
$20/PWYC

Silence is seemingly the opposite of music. For Andrew MacKelvie, though, there's a certain resonance to it—and that's what he seeks to explore in his work.

"There's certain patterns, almost, in the air that you can start to hear," says MacKelvie, who's been playing saxophone for more than 15 years. "I know that sounds a little out there, but it's really fascinating." That's what MacKelvie has been incorporating into his own music, particularly in the last two years. "If silence is like a timbre, silence has a quality and that quality is part of the room, how can I then start to influence that quality?"

MacKelvie has a passion for improvised music and released a record of it, You'll Come Upon A Mountain, in 2014. In addition to his solo ventures, he's played in The Original Folk Trio, xxvii and New Hermitage (his most recent project). New Hermitage is honing in on the idea of "environmental sound"

Next week, MacKelvie is collaborating with guitarist Geordie Haley and bassist Lukas Pearse for a concert in the suddenlyLISTEN series. SuddenlyLISTEN, founded in 2000, focuses on "creative art events" and "celebrating improvisation."

Ironically, says MacKelvie, improvised music tends to be strict. "Your allegiance to the music has to be really strong," he says. "The minute you sort of lose focus on what you're doing—especially in a group like that—you're just left behind."

That said, MacKelvie finds a distinct joy in playing with other people, creating "something from nothing" as a group. He's especially excited to take the stage with Haley and Pearse, who he describes as "pros" in the improvisational style.

He hopes folks won't be intimidated by the concept and will be willing to attend the show to "give it a try."

Ahead of this concert in particular, MacKelvie has been dwelling on the best way to write for improvisation. He's put together ideas, textures and melodies, but they can be "totally ripped apart" by the musicians. He compares the concept to a Lego set: Simple parts can become complex. "I just give you all the pieces. You can assemble it however you want," he explains. "This is what's on the box, but you can do whatever you want with it. You can make whatever you want." 


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