The exploratorium berlin was founded in May 2004 by Matthias Schwabe, initially as a one-man company on a 240 sqm floor in the Sarotti-Höfe.
The founding idea was to create a place that was explicitly and exclusively dedicated to the theme of musical improvisation. There were three pillars to this end:
– weekend workshops & regular courses
– an open stage every month.
The concept met with a great response and the number of events increased, so that in 2009, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary, a team of 4 people was already at work and the area was expanded to 534 sqm.
In 2012 Reinhard Gagel joined the exploratorium and built up the Theory & Research Department as the fourth area, including a specialist library and an archive.
Another issue has emerged on its own over the years: regular courses turned into permanent ensembles. This fulfilled a great wish from the founding period: that improvisation ensembles might become as normal as chamber music ensembles, choirs, orchestras or bands. So far, this has only been the case at the exploratorium and (still!) not at all music schools and universities, but nevertheless: it is a beginning!
Philosophy: Why Improvisation?
Improvisation offers something that is completely uncommon in European classical music, of which many of us are shaped, namely the possibility of inventing music ourselves, and to do so without notation. Moreover, this form of creativity is special because it takes place in a group setting. Like in a good conversation, the players develop ideas, which they would not have been able to find otherwise, by inspiring each other.
In the exploratorium we focus on so-called free improvisation, which needs neither scales nor harmony or rhythm schemes. The sound as such is the ground of music invention.
In this music, learning to improvise and improvisational learning is about collecting experiences in forming music, understanding music „from the inside out“ and getting involved in the musical flow. That requires alertness in every moment and intense listening to the other players as well as to the collective musical process.
Free improvisation means taking responsibility for yourself and contributing your own impulses while simultaneously adapting to a collective and taking responsibility for it at any moment.
Learning this is learning for life.
To experience this in concert means to participate in a very special adventure.