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#16 elemimele

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 20:40

... I'm back to thinking about improvisation. Here's an interesting discussion from somewhere different, the world of recorders. This is Sarah Jeffery, a recorder player who runs a well-loved YouTube blog, working with Erik Bosgraaf, one of the most respected recorder professionals floating around at the moment.

 

Erik and Sarah makes some comments about improvisation: knowing where you start, and where you're going; not playing a note unless you know in your head what it's going to sound like. Their improvisation is also particularly successful because they've decided what they intend to do (the style in which they're playing, the available notes) before they start. Limitations, not freedom, generate successful improvisation (that's my take on it, anyway; their variations on La Folia are strengthened by the fact they're obliged to work with the scaffolding of the La Folia bass).

 

A recorder is a simple thing compared to an organ, but it's sometimes easier to recognise how a thing works when it's distilled into simple form.


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#17 mel2

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 23:40

^^
Haven't read the link but the remarks are a counsel of perfection and rather intimidating if taken to heart.
Who would ever do anything if their efforts were going to be analysed so punctiliously for signs of rambling?
At the organ, a few moments of noodling are usually done to cover Clerical faffing about or other minor hold-ups, rather than to display improvisatory genius on the part of the organist, otherwise it would be kinder to the congregation to play something short but properly thought-out.
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#18 elemimele

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 07:23

yes... some people are brilliant at it (hence Sietze de Vies who began all this) but for most organists I think it's a painful thing for papering cracks in a service. Actually I think someone should produce a compilation of short, properly-written things with multiple clearly-labelled exit-points for the use of practical organists who don't like to improvise.

In the context of recorder-playing it's not quite so scary as there is only one note to worry about, so it's easier to be sure in your head what it will be, before playing it. Also Erik Boosgraf made the point that there is no shame in playing long, slow notes so you have time to think (in fact he recommended knowing what the next note will be, as a way to slow the process down, rather than randomly twiddling). He also made the point that in a recorder improvisation, if you intend to go on for a few minutes, you need a gradual build-up, so start simple. And the same goes for the learning process: start simple.

I was always rubbish at improvising at the keyboard, but I suspect it's because I was never taught, and tried to do too much, too soon, too fast.

Boosgraf and Jeffery do it rather well, but they're both professional players with a strong interest in the subject. De Vries is a genius beyond my comprehension, but makes lovely, lovely music.


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#19 mel2

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 09:26

Somebody did (produce such a compilation).
An organist friend gifted me The Organist's Vademecum - edited by Louis Site. This contains short one or two line pieces by such respectable figures as Bruckner, Bach and the like. It comes with me if I'm dep-ing anywhere. Much less trying for listeners than anything I can do on the fly.

I suspect this thread is more for those who look on improvisation as a personal musical challenge rather than a practical emergency musical sticking-plaster.
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