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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:07 pm 
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George and Francois, your improvisations are up on the IMPROVISATIONS page - it's a new top level page under ARTISTS and COMPOSERS. Please check if links etc. are in order. If any or both of you can write some not too verbose blurb for this new page that would be welcome. Not sure what to use for an image here !

To any wannabe improvisers : We are going to be fairly critical about what we put up here. Not only does it have to be good and sound good, we also have to like it 8)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:15 pm 
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techneut wrote:
If any or both of you can write some not too verbose blurb for this new page that would be welcome. Not sure what to use for an image here !


I can make a proposal this week-end (1st of may is off in France, as in many other countries I think). I am less inspired by the illustration item !

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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 7:38 pm 
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Thank you Chris for your diligence in creating an Improvisations page. I've been away. I certainly don't have the time to write music, but improvisation has replaced composition for the time being. I am sure I am not the only one who enjoys improvisation here.
Very good larger scale improvisation, François.

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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 9:46 pm 
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As promissed, this is a proposition for an introduction to Improvisation. Also a kind of improvisation :) Maybe a too long one, but this is a big subject ! Otherwise, should improvisation remain in the 'composition' section of the forum, or should there be a special section, parallel to 'audition room'?

'The art of improvisation is as old as music itself. It certainly existed before any notation was used for composition. Hence improvisation can be viewed as an instantaneous, real time composition. Before the time of recording, all improvisations were lost as soon as they were performed - although, according to certain legends, some famous composers played long improvisations and wrote them later. But now, with the possibility of burning recordings, it becomes possible to keep and to re-listen improvisations.

In the past most composers, especially keyboard players, were great improvisers. Bach, Beethoven or Liszt were famous in this type of exercise, and improvisation was a popular kind of encore in some concerts. Nowadays, among the classical music world, organists seem the only performers who continue the practice of public improvisation, while other musics like Jazz are entirely built around improvisation.

How an improvisation is made up ? It would certainly be a great challenge for neurobiologists to analyse what happens in the head of an improviser. Musically speaking, an improvised piece can have no visible structure (totally amorphous), but may also obey to very strict rules: some outstanding improvisers can create a 4-voice fugue in real time. To improvise after a theme is a more common practice, either playing some free paraphrase, or developing variations. In the last case, the melody can be kept with various acompaniments, or the harmonic structure can be reproduced, with different melodies and voicings. A simple way of improvising at the piano is to repeat a short series of notes at the left hand (ostinato), while the right hand improvises. This is the same old trick which was used by J.S. Bach in his famous organ piece 'Passacaille in Cminor', and in some boogie-woogie tunes...

As compared to the execution of a written music piece, an improvisation is generally less deep and rich in terms of musical ideas (sometimes it can be even very empty and without any interest for the listener!). However, it can only be spontaneous, and the fit between music and its interpretation is not questionable, since they come from the same creative source. Also, in terms of communication it has the merit to provide a flow of information at a rate which can be received by the listener. By comparison, some contemporary (written) pieces take years to the composer, and last some minutes when executed. In such a case, there's no way for the listener to catch any of the composer intentions.

Finally, for the pianist, improvising is another way of discovering his instrument, and can be a very relaxing kind of self-psychoanalysis...'

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François
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François Couperin (1668-1733)


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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 4:18 pm 
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techneut wrote:
George and Francois, your improvisations are up on the IMPROVISATIONS page - it's a new top level page under ARTISTS and COMPOSERS.

I realize that on the top of the 'Composers' page, there is the following sentence:
"...The reason for this "rule" is that we in the past has been provided recordings which are more or less improvisations which we do not accept. '
that needs to be updated...

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François
"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 6:04 pm 
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Francois de Larrard wrote:
I realize that on the top of the 'Composers' page, there is the following sentence:
"...The reason for this "rule" is that we in the past has been provided recordings which are more or less improvisations which we do not accept. '
that needs to be updated...

Yup. I've deleted that sentence, and added another about improvisations. This entire page would really need to be revisited one day as is is decidedly rambling.

And Francois, I've put your text on the Improvisations page, after some minor edits. Thatks for that.

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 7:26 pm 
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[quote="techneut]
And Francois, I've put your text on the Improvisations page, after some minor edits. Thatks for that.[/quote]

Thanks Chris. A last request (for this time :wink: ): should'nt the title of the forum be changed from "Composing" to "Composing or improvising" ?

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François
"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 6:24 am 
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Francois de Larrard wrote:
Thanks Chris. A last request (for this time :wink: ): should'nt the title of the forum be changed from "Composing" to "Composing or improvising" ?

No. I prefer improvisations to be submitted in audition room.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:25 am 
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Hi all

I am new to this forum, so please don't bite my head off for doing something wrong ;) I am a 17 year old pianist from Brisbane, Australia.

For me improvisation is one of the most important aspects of Western Music. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc used improvisation extensively, both as it's own form or helping to write their own music .The piano introduction of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy op. 80 sounds like a written down improvisation, and many have suggested that the second last variation in the third movement of his op. 109 sonata is also based on his 4-handed improvisational technique. (ie playing a trill with the thumb and index finger and the melody with the pinkie). I have to say that I find the Beethoven Sonatas very very moving and profound.

You can read an essay by Robert Levin discussing Mozart and Improvising at the URL below

http://www.aam.co.uk/index.htm

I myself spend a lot of the time improvising on the piano, either using a framework that I developed or being in a total free state of mind. In my very very humble, 17 year old opinion, every performer in Western Art Music on any instrument should also be a good improviser. I agree very strong with what Mr. Levin said in his essay.

I have uploaded some of my works/improvisations onto YouTube, I hope links from YouTube are allowed on this site

Below is a sonata in G that is sort of composed and improvised at the same time

Mvt 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJquG8kagLY
Mvt 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqsJlK4ps10
Mvt 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVawSaubAP4

Sorry for the dreadful dreadful audio quality (well TBH it isn't too bad, I heard worse). After the concert many people came up to me and shook my hand and said many thanks for the performance, I was a bit taken aback by that I must admit ;-)

The sonata has a rough frame/structure, but is substantially different every time I play it. I use works from the Great masters to guide me. For instance the trills in the 2nd movement were based on the Last Three Sonatas of Beethoven and how he liberated the trill (I was drunk so to speak on the last Beethoven sonatas [op. 109 to 111] when I gave this performance), and the modulation into A major in the third movement was inspired by Clementi's Sonatina op. 36 no. 2.

And here is an example of a free improvisation (where I sat down at the piano and just played anything that was in my mind)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxJ9EY-bs-I

The audio quality is better here. This was recorded 2 years ago, and as one would expect my musical approach has changed (I don't use shallow virtuosity as much as I did then).

I am currently framing (like the sonata above) a new sonata based on Beethoven's op. 109 and 110, but with my own voice so to speak.

Sorry for these ramblings ;-) A lot of talent is on this forum! I actually feel a little intimidated by it, but music should be shard and loved with all of us, whatever your level of skill is.

Best wishes to all

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:06 am 
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No we will not bite your head off Rudolf, but don't expect us to wax lyrically over your improvisations. I see people have been giving you five stars on YouTube. Why, anything goes on YouTube. Best I can say is that you do seem to have some technical ability, your trills and runs are good. Why don't you develop that by diligently playing the works of the great masters instead of trying to go one better on them.

Your Sonata has a lot of Haydn and Mozart, it has all the gestures not none of the substance and discipline. The endless and monotonous Alberti basses and trills, the persistent use of the tritone, and the frequent ritenuti, are the hallmarks of someone who doesn't know where to go.

That 10-minute improvisation really is a big wad of ungainly sounds, trying to impress with one huge gesture after another, and even at the end we still don't know what all the noise was about.

Do youself a favour and stick with playing the real stuff, at least for the time being. Only out of discipline can freedom be borne.

On the plus side, you're one of the first Australians I meet on the web who can write coherently and correctly. Just though I'd mention that too :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:18 pm 
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Hello there Chris,

Many thanks for your (very quick!) response. I am intrigued by your statement "On the plus side, you're one of the first Australians I meet on the web who can write coherently and correctly. Just though I'd mention that too." Last time I checked, we spoke English in Australia ;) Have you only encountered poor English speakers from Australia? I don't think that my English is very flash ;) I actually failed Term 3 English at my school :S

I think I might have to explain a bit more here as well. I am very grateful for your comments as well, usually all I get is "that was great!" or "that's nice" or a pat on the back from people. You gave a more detailed comment which I appreciate. Although my music teacher at school did say that he was surprised once at one of my improvisations, saying that he couldn't do that on the 'cello (he is a 'cellist) [Maybe that meant that he couldn't do that on the 'cello as it was so bad ;) ;) but I think he meant it in a good way]

Regarding the G minor 10 minute one - as I said that was done 2 years ago (I was 15 at the time) and my music mastery and outlook of course has changed (Sometimes when I listen to these I think to myself "What was I thinking??"). I do admit there is a lot of filler in that piece, although I could develop a few ideas from it later on. All I wanted to do was to impress with shallow virtuosity.

I didn't play/think about the G major sonata until the day before the performance. I wrote the frame a few years back. I first played it at the end of 2007 at a student concert (I just turned 15) and my piano teacher at the time was quite impressed with what I did. After that I didn't play it for a long time. It was only when I had to give a recital at a student concert at the end of 2009 that my (new) piano teacher asked me if I had anything more to play. I played her a bit of my sonata, and she was very much astounded. There was a pianist doing his grade 7 examination at the concert, and he told me that he was glad that I didn't play before him! (I have only done up to grade 3).

I think I should elaborate on the point that the skill of improvisation develops as your musicality develops. I did a piano improvisation in front of the school assembly in 2008, and it seemed that people liked it a lot (both students with and without musical knowledge). I then did an improvisation in 2009, which people liked even more (a few said that my skill had improved noticeably since last time). I do realise though that they might just be saying that sort of thing as not to offend me, although they could have just said it was plain rubbish. (There are a lot of honest people at my school who just say how thing are)

Attached as an MP3 an improvisation I did only yesterday as a microphone test. I was concentrating on the levels of the recording more than the actual musicality but I think it turned out well. Hopefully something like this will be the 2nd movement of my D major sonata that I an writing the frame for (it will be based on Beethoven's op. 109 and 110)

I am personally very proud of improvising for others, and I do wish that people do it more often than they do. As I said improvising is very much linked to the Great Composers, and I think everyone should at least try to improvise to become a better musician. Having said that I do welcome all comments. I am reminded of Louis Spohr's comment regarding The Last Beethoven String Quartets, where he called them incomprehensible horrors or something like that, but people now days love them (Late Beethoven has a very special place in my heart)

Best Wishes To All,

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:58 pm 
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Well it could be, like with late Beethoven, that the world is not ready for this music yet. Only time will tell :lol:

Seriously now, I don't like this new effort any better than the other ones. I am sure you could ramble on like this for hours, and if this is what you enjoy most, and if people appreciate it, by all means go for it. Everybody should do what they are best at. I just need to make clear that, as far as I am concerned, Piano Society is not the right place for this stuff.

As to your question, poor writers can be found everywhere. But in my experience Aussies do take the biscuit, to the extent that I wondered if there even was one able to write one correct sentence. One must not generalize, but they seem to have a certain disdain for matters of grammar and spelling, and do seem to take pride in being like that. When I put this to an Australian colleague, she recognized and confirmed that. Luckily, there's always exceptions to the 'rule' :D

Good luck with your music !

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:57 am 
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Hi There

Very much aware that I have many improvements to make in my own playing, I normally drop in as Miss Positive with very little criticism. As Techneut has mentioned, there are some good things in this improvisation, but I find the overall sound quality far too bad to be acceptable for this site in a time when everyday folks have access to affordable good-quality equipment. This sounds like the ancient recordings I made of myself way back in 1987 or something on some kind of cheap RCA taperecorder. The sound is far too distant and distorted. As well, the overall direction within the improvisation seems lacking and frenzied.

Anyway, sorry to be a wanker, but really, you should get a better recording machine. It would be worth it. Many people here are quite pleased with the Edirol machines that are very affordable and will do more justice to your sound. Please keep up the improvisations, as I agree, there is great value in this skill.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Hi Chris and Nicole

I do admit my recording apparatus is very very very (did I say very?) mediocre, although I do far too little amount of recordings to justify an upgrade. I actually did a lot of EQ work on the Scherzo as the high end noise was unbearable and there was a lot of low-end rumble. (I used a AU$5 mic for it) The video performance was taped with a mono microphone camera that sampled the audio at 8 KHz and horribly compressed/limited the audio as well. I am a bit of an audiophile myself (http://www.abbajustlikethat.comyr.com/1_4_Audiophile-Corner.html as this essay shows!!!!) and I do agree that my recordings used rubbish equipment.

And yes, I don't think I am god's gift or anything like that, or that in 200 years time the name Ondrich will be studied in music. I also don't think I am trying to be one step ahead of Haydn, Mozart et al. by playing these works in concert. It is just a bit of fun. Some people like it, other's don't. After playing an improvisation at a concert once a lady came up to me and asked me who was the composer, and she was totally surprised to hear that it was a total improvisation. On the other hand I see that both of you are not terribly impressed by them, and I do respect that. I think though it is better to show people what you have got, instead of hiding it. People can always leave a terrible performance, but they will never know if you are good or not if you don't play anything at all. For me as well, music has a spirit, and this is mine. In all music you either take it or leave it, it is fully up to the listener.

I for one don't like the music (ie the musical spirit) of Tchaikovsky at all, but some do. I also rather dislike the Schnabel interpretations of the Beethoven sonatas (which I get the impression that many people like), whereas I highly look upon the cycle by the less well known pianist Bernard Roberts, which I have read some negative reviews about.

I also found it interesting that you said that my technique was good, my piano teacher dislikes my technique a lot! Again it shows how one persons good is another persons bad.

A little bit off track here, but I would love to hear your opinions on this. I am currently studying Beethoven's op. 110. I watched a masterclass with Anderas Schiff concerning the last Beethoven sonatas and he said that young pianists should not play them as they are not musically ready to comprehend them so to speak. I sort of agree with him, but I also think that no pianist will be able to understand these works fully, no matter how much training they have received, so it doesn't really matter when you play them. What are your thoughts? Am I being arrogant here?

And this is for everyone now, post up your improvisations! Show your musical expression, not just though written music! Even if most will view them as being "unmusical' - who cares??!! Music history has always been full of music where people considered it as being unmusical!! Let your musical spirit shine.

And I will say it again, I am still a bit puzzled by the claim that Australian's have bad English. I have never noticed this in real life! (ie with the people I interact with physically) Strangely though, I am a member of a few ABBA email forum groups, and I must admit that the Australians send in emails with rather poor English, so much so that there was a big fiasco about the English standards that should be used in the forum.

Best Wishes To All,

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:51 pm 
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mozpiano2 wrote:
I also found it interesting that you said that my technique was good, my piano teacher dislikes my technique a lot! Again it shows how one persons good is another persons bad.

I did not quite say that - and anyway I am not an expert on technical matters. I just noted that you seem to have some technical ability - largely based on the fact that you can produce a lot of notes quite efficiently. It's not the same as having a good technique though.

mozpiano2 wrote:
A little bit off track here, but I would love to hear your opinions on this. I am currently studying Beethoven's op. 110. I watched a masterclass with Anderas Schiff concerning the last Beethoven sonatas and he said that young pianists should not play them as they are not musically ready to comprehend them so to speak.

Not sure how one must 'understand' a piece of music. You must 'feel' it though, in order to make a musical impact. I guess many young people may not have the patience, wisdom and staying power to bring off these works convincingly, but that should maybe not stop them from playing/studying them. Or maybe it should, Schiff will know what he's talking about.

mozpiano2 wrote:
And I will say it again, I am still a bit puzzled by the claim that Australian's have bad English. I have never noticed this in real life! (ie with the people I interact with physically) Strangely though, I am a member of a few ABBA email forum groups, and I must admit that the Australians send in emails with rather poor English, so much so that there was a big fiasco about the English standards that should be used in the forum.

Well there you go then ! This is exactly what I meant.
And 'rather poor' is an euphemism in some cases..... A mistake can and will happen, but I would be ashamed to produce the kind of messay verbal diarrhoea that you sometimes see on the web. I find it impolite and insulting to the reader. Again, good to see there are exceptions :!:

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