All this talk of free improv has been spinning about in my head. The idea of completely eschewing the basics of western (or any other) musical tradition (you know, those really tedious things like rhythm, melody, & scales) seems rather counterproductive if you want an audience. & here I'm certainly not advocating pandering to the audience. Instead you're giving the audience a foothold to help guide them into a musical world that quite often is rather foreign and challenging to them. There are just not that many folks who can be plopped down in the middle of some particularly twisted improv & feel immediately comfortable. An example of the sort of thing I'm talking about would be Art Ensemble of Chicago's "Charley M"--starts off as a really smooth jazzy number, goes into this crazy place without ever getting lost, comes out intact on the other side. I personally like this approach (quite common in free jazz, not so common in stuff that leaves jazz aside)--otherwise it's almost necessary that the audience be as well versed in the form as the performers themselves. Now, I'm not saying there aren't exceptions. Certainly, as an artist develops something of a rep/following, she may be able to start from a more remote outpost without losing the bulk of her audience. And sometimes the artist can pull off pushing the audience into the deep end sans water wings. This happened to me (as audience member) when I saw AMM--I had no idea who they were even, but I was absolutely blown away by them. Of course, this is all just the opinion of an outsider looking in. I mostly listen to/play pop (in its many variations), but as an audience member/occaasional participant in the, umm, wilder side of things, I have experienced some fairly amazing stuff. But at other times I feel like I'm trying to learn quantum physics by staring at equations. It can be quite a frustrating experience.