New release from Ian Wilson The Book of Ways

Ian Wilson’s latest CD, ‘The Book of Ways’, is the result of an Arts Council-funded project exploring the interface between notation and improvisation, particularly in relation to a classical ensemble, in this instance the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet performing with improvising saxophonist Cathal Roche.

The genesis of the music lies in the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese text containing a system of divination comprising 64 oracular statements, or hexagrams. Cathal Roche discovered that each of these hexagrams can suggest a specific saxophone fingering for him to be constrained by – his improvisations seek to overcome those constraints, in the process describing certain harmonic modes, melodic shapes and rhythmic figures. Ten hexagrams were chosen to form the structural basis of The Book of Ways, following which Wilson notated a series of phrases and motifs relating specifically to each hexagram (culled from Roche’s improvisations) for the quartet to base their performance(s) on. As they perform, the members of the quartet make choices – individually and together – about what, when and how to play concerning the notated material, allowing them and the saxophonist to respond to each other with a great degree of freedom and flexibility.

‘The Book of Ways’ is available online from and from the Contemporary Music Centre.



Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: