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Anonymous
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Improvisation In Classical Music
      #1002630 - 09/08/12 05:18 PM
Anyone who is sick of the stagnant 'elite interpreter' or 'reproducer' culture in classical music might find these videos interesting:

Improvising Mozart with Robert Levin 1

Improvising Mozart with Robert Levin 2

Levin believes that if Mozart were around today, he'd be more interested in developments made by Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Oscar Peterson than in the equivalent (parallel) classical scene.


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dubbmann
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Joined: 17/03/04
Posts: 1564
Loc: 3rd stone from the sun.
Re: Improvisation In Classical Music new [Re: ]
      #1002666 - 09/08/12 10:21 PM
thanks for the links! i know that elite performers are sometimes given leave by conductors, etc, to add a cadenza they have composed to the end of set piece. i am a mostly improvisational composer and take great satisfaction in reading about how JS Bach frequently improvised extensively, often being asked to do so by patrons like Frederic the Great, etc.

cheers,

d

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http://www.phichibe.com


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Chaconne



Joined: 21/02/05
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Re: Improvisation In Classical Music new [Re: ]
      #1003086 - 12/08/12 05:48 PM
All of the great composers were great improvisers.

Why this has been exterminated from the western teaching regime is a complete mystery.

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lappi oltermanni



Joined: 08/08/12
Posts: 41
Loc: raseborg/london
Re: Improvisation In Classical Music new [Re: ]
      #1003212 - 13/08/12 07:33 AM
Excellent topic!as an art form improv, is much neglected in many of europe's places and I am not sure why this is.perhaps people are frightened to take music to higher levels and would rather play it safe?perhaps but safe music is generally, not good music.same as food would you rather have a carrot and celery stick?or would you prefer sea bass on a pea and mint puree with safron rice?for me the latter would surely be the one and for many other people also too

Let us applaud those great musicians who have the braveness and skill and not least, the forsight to take music out of comfort zones.music is there to be explored so why in this day and age of technological advances do we choose to stay within largely our traditional boundary??this is a question that not only has to be asked but also answered

I am actually a big fan of derek bailey (the guy who narrated and write those videos above).derek was the best improviser a true, legend.derek takes us to unimagined places with his improv,out of the ordinary out of our comfort zone into the twilight world of sounds and harmony and rhythms we previously could not even have imagined.it is music which comes from a place we have not even discovered yet.derek through his intimate skill,is somehow able to leave all the traditional normalities such as technique form structure melodic lines and harmony at the door.when he goes through that door he is a blank canvas and on to that canvas he paints as if guided by a godly hand.like a planet spinning in the vastness of a distant solar system like ours,this is music which cannot be categorized and for that very fact alone it is music that is able to ignite the imagination because of it has an ability to open up boundarys that have been cordoned off previously, like an olympic triathlon, due to the constraint of a western teaching system

derek believed in improv being available for all.improv is of the people and for the people.so lets embrace that and encourage it especially in schools and on music courses.only through improv can people really connect not only with the listener more properly and more passionately but moreover more importantly with themselves and their 'inner me'

derek bailey improv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5dz_1meBjY

Let us all try and keep the spirit of improv alive


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damoore



Joined: 05/07/09
Posts: 656
Loc: New Hampshire
Re: Improvisation In Classical Music new [Re: Chaconne]
      #1008199 - 12/09/12 12:59 PM
Quote Chaconne:

All of the great composers were great improvisers.

Why this has been exterminated from the western teaching regime is a complete mystery.




At least on piano, the world got into valuing technique over all else. Improvising a cadenza that was as technically brilliant as the written out one would be extremely difficult and only a very knowledgeable audience would value and appreciate the result. Besides, you can't really tell genuine improvisation from a learned but different version until you hear the performance at least twice - so improvisation works better within a community where you hear the same player many times rather than in a concert or recording situation where you hear them only once.


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Anonymous
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Re: Improvisation In Classical Music new [Re: damoore]
      #1008238 - 12/09/12 05:21 PM
Quote damoore:

At least on piano, the world got into valuing technique over all else. Improvising a cadenza that was as technically brilliant as the written out one would be extremely difficult and only a very knowledgeable audience would value and appreciate the result. Besides, you can't really tell genuine improvisation from a learned but different version until you hear the performance at least twice - so improvisation works better within a community where you hear the same player many times rather than in a concert or recording situation where you hear them only once.




Beethoven always insisted that composers make the best pianists, so perhaps that's something we've lost or is no longer valid. Robert Levin has completed Mozart's requiem and Great Mass in C and other pieces, so he can compose competently in the style. (I wasn't that keen on the particular performances of these completions though.)

That said, I do think the keyboard embellishments work better on those C18th pianos than on modern pianos, so maybe the lack of embellishment practice is actually serendipitous. I mean, the modern piano has such a rich tone and sustain that maybe sparser renditions are preferable.

However, I certainly think it would be possible to tell if a cadenza is improvised simply by the manner and timing with which it's performed. You'd feel the tension and struggle with the player. Of course, when they say 'improvised', I suppose it's a looser form of composition much of the time depending on whether the player has his mojo working. On top form, I think some really interesting 'cliff edge' performences could be heard.

I've heard Robert Levin improvise classical-inspired jazz on live radio:

Milestones of the Millenium (RealPlayer link at bottom.)

Robert Levin on BBC

Robert Levin Text Interview (You need to pause the images)

It seems that note-perfect performences were not expected or particularly admired back then. There were comments that many of the notes 'fell under the table' when Beethoven performed. But the passion and inspiration may have been all, and I suspect improvisation was a big part of that.


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