Posts tagged improvisation
Letter to my students: Notes about composition and improvisation.

Hi All,

Thanks for an enjoyable and productive session Tuesday morning. This email is to remind you that you have a little assignment for next week's rehearsal: to make a sketch of an idea for a composition.

A few reminders:

  1. A sketch is just that --- some marks on paper that outline an idea. It is the seed of a composition; the start of a process. 
  2. An idea can come from anywhere. It can be anything. It does not have to first be musical notes. 
  3. Don't over-think this. Whatever you write will always and necessarily be only the outline of the music you will eventually make. It might help to think of there as being an elastic tension between the text (what is written) and the music (which will be sounded when we rehearse, develop and perform the music).
  4. Don't judge your ideas just as they're being born. Treat them with kindness and curiosity.

OK, that's the short version of this message. For more information, I invite you to read on…

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Program notes for the Kalmanovitch/Maneri/Warren/Herbert/Quartet

My program notes for upcoming performances with Huw Warren, Mat Maneri and Peter Herbert, in which retrospection solves the problem of what to write about a program of improvised music. 

This project was born out of my frequent collaborations with Huw Warren at the Summer School of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Huw was a friendly presence my first year, a decade or so ago. Idon’t remember how it was that we came to perform together at the tutors’ concert, but I think I might have angled for it.

Years before that, while I was still an undergraduate at Juilliard, in the heydey of ‘alternative’ music, I had toured with an acoustic trio called the blackgirls. In the long hours driving between Midwestern college towns, we listened to music. We’d all fallen in love with 'Some Other Time', a 1989 recording of jazz standards by the great English folksinger June Tabor. Huw, Tabor’s longtime collaborator, played on that record, and I recognized his name from the liner notes that I’d unfolded and folded into the cassette case many times.

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