Sunday, December 17, 2006

Improv on NPR

The list of streaming NPR clips related to improvisation is growing (click here then scroll down a bit). Someone over there is obviously quite taken with Gabriela Montero; at least five pieces on her in the last year. Great interviews and performance recordings of others, including Robert Abramson, Paul Horn, Keith Jarrett, Robert Levin, and Rolf Lislevand. I'm keeping the list pretty much confined to people related in one way or another to classical music; Horn and Jarrett defy categorization enough that they are included.

I have nothing against jazz and other forms of improvisational music. The point of my work, though, is to point out what classical musicians can and are doing with improvisation.


Terry said...

I've written a couple of posts on CBN that I think would be relevant to the improvising classical musician. In the currently more common musical forms (jazz, rock, bluegrass...) one follows a predefined chord progression. Classical music since the 1600s is largely chordal homophony, also, so a classical improviser would have to improvise, or imply, his own chord progression. Isn't that what Bach and others of his time did?

I have a diagram that illustrates the typical "normal" and "alternate" progressions, laid out like a board game or a subway. A subsequent post illustrates how the Prelude to the 1st Cello Suite, for example, follows that subway map, repeatedly traveling clockwise through four "Zones".

Mightn't that concept be relevant to classical improvisation?

Anonymous said...

The NPR stuff is rather good. I feel that only the insane aren't actively pursing improve a legit part of their act. Its not really a surprise that symphony jobs are almost impossible to get so those who want to be musicians and nothing else better get on board.