Cécile Guillier : Text 3 – English

Free Immured-Art: Murmurs

Cécile Guillier


One of the most enjoyable experiences I had playing music was free improvisation. After overcoming a blockage that prevented me from doing so for many years (all during my studies at the conservatory and a few more afterwards), it became a joyful experience for me. On the initiative of a jazz piano teacher, with a few volunteer colleagues and adult jazz students, we would play for a few minutes, with or without instructions (when there were, it was sometimes structural constraints). My great pleasure was in this alternance of play and discussion afterwards. The discussion was free, that is to say not aimed towards progress or assessment, it was only the moment to talk about how far we had come, how each person had heard it, had been surprised, interested, disconcerted, left out… And I was quite at ease playing or singing, I had the impression that one was playing directly with sound matter (idiomatic or not) and with human relationships (what do I hear from others, do I answer them…). I think I was the only one to view it that way, and the others were surprised by my enthusiasm. I was struck by the power of free improvisation on a group, to connect individuals and create a common culture. The colleague who had organized this was careful not to make value judgments about the sound result and the choices made by each participant. I still have a kind of nostalgia for having caught a glimpse into what I would like to do much more often, and with much more diverse people, whether or not they are already musicians. Having said that, it takes a certain amount of courage to go beyond the usual musical rules of the game, and I don’t always have it. When we talk about walls, it’s mostly there that I see them, in our heads (like a drawing I studied in German class in college that said “the wall is still in our heads”). I get the impression that I have to cross a similar wall every time I play in the street, so outside a concert hall: the moment when I switch from a person who walks with a violin, like everyone else, to a person who is preparing to play in front of others. It’s a small psychological wall to cross.

Another experience, different, of the notion of a wall: during my violin apprenticeship at the conservatory, my teachers often pointed out my defects, my failures. I imagined them as walls that I had to overcome, and with a lot of effort and willpower, I hoped to overcome them. But I believe that the effort and the will focused me on the walls to overcome rather than on the interest to overcome them. I think that if my teachers had told me instead, this is what I enjoy doing, this is why I find interest in doing it, I might have found a quicker way to get over those walls. The pleasure and interest in being a musician, the nature of what a musician is, often remains unquestioned, unshared. It’s often a world of phantasms and individual projections, when it could be a world of shareable experiences.


Access to the three texts (English and French)

Texte 1, Faire tomber les murs : mûrs ?      Français

Texte 1, Walkabout Wall Falling [Faire tomber les murs : mûrs ?]      English

Texte 2a, Interlude      Français

Texte 2b, Interlude      English

Texte 3b, L’art-mur de la liberté : murmures      Français