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 Post subject: Improvisations
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:09 am 
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I thought I'd share a few inspirations/improvisations...

Improvising at the piano can be a meditative experience, a time for self-realization and discovery, however, only when the ideas are working. Sometimes, it's to no avail and I find something else to do. I tend to record "spur of the moment" improvisations; they're musical first sketches where I just press record on the CD recorder and play whatever comes to mind, so they're not perfect. The Pieces are:


"A Call To The Crane." (Gm) The crane is a symbolic bird of Armenia since ancient times. According to legend, it is a messenger that bears news of importance. The opening starts with a call. This leads into the flight and journey of the crane as it passes by. The ending echoes the first call as the crane disappears into the distance...

"Kindred Spirit." (F#) I chose to play this improvisation in a musical scale that I devised in 1985, while searching for a distinctly nostalgic sound that I could consider uniquely Armenian. The fluid and free flowing nature of the piece makes it sound highly improvisational, against a dhol-like rhythm in the accompaniment. The dhol is a drum made from hide and it looks like a tamborine. For me, it is intensely Armenian - nostalgic, airy with harmonics, evocative, sense of belonging, and mystical. While recording, I heard a certain ''Truth in Spirit; and Spirit in Truth." So I entitled the piece Kindred Spirit...

"Spring Thaw" (B-flat) is a musical celebration of our long and harsh New England winter ultimately letting go of it's grip on the land, and finally allowing Spring to take hold. The opening theme starts with the rumbling bass chords, symbolizing huge boulders of ice beginning to crack and break up. The broken chord theme in the treble depicts the formation of icicles and small pools of water, signaling the first hope that perhaps winter's end is near. This gives way to a more emphatic cycle of rumbling bass chords, with more ice crumbling down. The broken chords in the treble begin to form larger pools of water, until the running arpeggio theme gives way to water flowing and forming streams through the forests. The cycle of seasonal transition continues where the last boulders of ice finally break up in a losing battle with Spring, and dissipate their vast energy in gushing streams and rivers that follow through the landscape. The ending echoes all the musical elements that has taken place - the storms, bitter cold, and ice are now long gone, all that remains is a humble reminder of our endurance and resolve...


I've notarized about 80 such improvisations over the years. From the Sep08 to the Apr09 recording, the piano has slightly become out of tune since April 2008. Time to call the tuner!

Improvisation - Spring Thaw ( 3:14 )
Improvisation - Kindred Spirit ( 2:08 )
Improvisation - A call to the crane ( 2:28 )

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Last edited by 88man on Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:13 am 
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I like especially the Crane and the Spirit, very beautiful and atmospheric. The Spring Thaw, for all its beauty of sound, I find rather trite and meandering, not living up to its portentous description. I can't see how something can be an improvisation and yet have such a detailed programme.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:28 pm 
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Thanks Chris for the comments. I agree that Spring Thaw meanders - either a new middle section must be introduced or take out some of the redundancy.

Quote:
I can't see how something can be an improvisation and yet have such a detailed programme.

Since I enjoy landscape photography, I envisioned the program of nature as a landscape before starting the improvisation in Spring Thaw. I knew I wanted to recount and merge the events in the seasonal transition from winter to spring and what makes it special in relation to where I live. I was recalling what was going through my mind as opposed to describing an afterthought.
Everybody has a different compositional approach. Before recording any improvisation for the first time, I have to be inspired by something and then begin the plot/drama process in my mind. The only difference is that I am using a CD recorder and not a notation method due to time constraints. Besides, the spontaneity and free will would be gone if I were to notate everything for the first time. Someday, when I have time, I'll commit these to manuscript after some reworking, then they can be called compositions. Hey, it would be nice to retire early?!?!

George

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:53 pm 
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88man wrote:
Hey, it would be nice to retire early?!?!

Great, if you can afford it....

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Hi George,

I listened to these and think all three sound very nice. I like the exotic sound of "Kindred Spirit". And even if 'Spring Thaw' meanders a bit, your piano sure sounds good!

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:21 pm 
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Hi,
For some reasons, I cannot download these files. Thanks to the webmasters for fixing the problem.

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:14 am 
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Hi François, I deleted them myself since I thought I'd post for a week or so. Sorry, were you still be able to download them?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:26 pm 
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88man wrote:
Hi François, I deleted them myself since I thought I'd post for a week or so. Sorry, were you still be able to download them?

I'd like to do so, but I can wait for some days. Just tell me when they're available. Thanks !

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François
"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:53 am 
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Bonjour François, J'ai rattaché les improvisations. Il devrait fonctionner maintenant... Good opportunity to use my French. I hope that made sense, as it has been 21 years!

George

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:23 am 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Very good improvs! A helluva lot better than mine!!! Thanks for sharing.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:15 pm 
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We still have not decided what do do about improvisations. We get a lot of crap (even so-called compositions) but I feel that there should be a place for the real good stuff like this.

Maybe we should just have one single page named 'Improvisations' where we can park each one we deem good enough (it will have to be down to the admins to decide on that). This way it would not be a lot of work to get them on the site.

I don't feel like adding everybody who does an improvisation as a composer, not even if they provide a score. Apart from the fact that it may be impossible to distinguish between an improvising
performer and a performing composer. I still don't know what makes someone a composer. But that is another discussion.

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 Post subject: Improvisations, Compositions, Composers
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:06 pm 
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Thank you Julius and Chris.

Techneut wrote:
Quote:
I don't feel like adding everybody who does an improvisation as a composer, not even if they provide a score. Apart from the fact that it may be impossible to distinguish between an improvising performer and a performing composer.


I agree. This dilemma cannot be answered easily on a philosophical basis. For Piano Society, or any other institution in the position of considering an improvising performer as a composer, there is the issue of formality and defining standards, as there would be for any profession within an institutional framework. As complete as an improvisation may be, it cannot be considered a formal composition without a score. Furthermore, the improvising performer cannot formally be considered a composer in the eyes of any institution unless there is a score to confirm a composition. The score provides the completeness, proper mode of dissemination, and validity required for all formal compositions.

That's why I didn't post my improvs in the "Audition" section because I don't have time to write scores. And without scores, I can't be formally acknowledged as a composer by an institution based solely on recordings of improvisations. I am sure there are people like me who don't have time to write everything down on scores. Improvisations are an important part of music and in the development of any composer. In this case, I would agree that a separate "Improvisations" section might be easier to group such pieces. It would also make for interesting feedback...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:29 pm 
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88man wrote:
Bonjour François, J'ai rattaché les improvisations. Il devrait fonctionner maintenant... Good opportunity to use my French. I hope that made sense, as it has been 21 years!

George


Dear George,
I ended up getting the files, and I've just listened them. Very nice, ample inspiration and beautiful spatial piano !
Well, it could be nice to have a section of improvisations. I just wonder how we could classify them. Also, sometimes a recorded improvisation supports less auditions, because it cannot be as rich and well structured than a written composition. On the other hand, the good ones have the advantage to be unquestionably rendered and totally spontaneous. Therefore I think each pianist should regularly spend some time improvising, as most great composers did...
Finally, to support the idea of an improvisation section, I am loading one I recorded on a beautiful Steinway some... 18 years ago ! Hope you enjoy ! The title is "Lacs" (lakes), and it was inspired by a series of lakes seen in the Quebec province.

Improvisation - Lacs ( 12:04 )

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:27 am 
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A very impressive piece of work, even though it's on the long side and at some places seems to doodle along. Great sound, and great pianism. Sounds a bit like Sorabji at times ! Definitely, one for the Improvisations page. I think we should proceed with that now.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:42 pm 
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techneut wrote:
A very impressive piece of work, even though it's on the long side and at some places seems to doodle along. Great sound, and great pianism. Sounds a bit like Sorabji at times ! Definitely, one for the Improvisations page. I think we should proceed with that now.

Hurrah for the improvisation page ! And thanks for your appreciation, and also to quote Sorabji (I had not heard about him before). I've just listened some transcendental studies on YouTube: quite impressive music, very virtuosy and harmonically rich. This is a new area I will probably explore in the coming weeks...

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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