03/27/15

Improvisation in F# Lydian with Jeffrey Agrell, horn and Werner Elmker, piano

One of the great things about improvisation is that you can have a musical conversation with anyone who ‘speaks the language.’ I met Werner Elmker indirectly. Werner is an amazingly versatile and talented pillar of the artistic community of Fairfield, IA; my wife (Shari Rhoads) had used his video and photography services for her arts organization Concertia, and she recommended him to me to do some photos for my new CD Soundings. So I connected with him, and it was a very successful photo shoot. As we got to talking, I found out that he was and is both a classical pianist as well as an improviser and fairly quickly we resolved to get together and make (up) music. So I went to Fairfield recently for some spontaneous duets with him. The video here is one of them, filmed on the stage of the Sondheim Center (Werner used remote control; when he clapped, the cameras started rolling. What an age we live in…). We did minimal planning in the improvisations. Here we just picked a scale and started playing. A one-time shot. It was a wonderful session, all the things that improv does so well – a musical conversation where you just play and listen and react and go and create until it seems time to end. I look forward to the next time we get together.

02/26/15

New CD: Soundings (horn improvisation)

My new CD “Soundings” was just released on the MSR Classics label (msrcd.com).

Booklet.qxdIt is an exploration of a new area for me: horn plus the use of various electronic effects to experiment with new timbres, new means of expression.

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01/16/15

Creativity Quotes of the Day

English: French composer Nadia Boulanger (1887...

English: French composer Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) in 1925. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are enriched by all the music you know by heart; it becomes a part of you. –Nadia Boulanger

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember: amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic. –Anonymous

The Earth without Art is just “eh”. –Anonymous

A problem is a chance for you to do your best. – Duke Ellington

Very few people do anything creative after the age of thirty-five. The reason is that very few people do anything creative before the age of thirty-five. 
- Joel Hildebrand

The way to succeed is to double your error rate. – Thomas J. Watson

01/7/15

Improv Quote of the Day: Making Things

Vijay Iyer

Vijay Iyer

My primary orientation is as an artist, and what that means is that I make things. I don’t make things in order to make money – I make things in order to communicate, reflect, meditate, and connect with people. It’s a personal practice. It’s a spiritual practice. It’s a social practice. And that’s really the foundation of everything I do.

–Jazz pianist, composer, and MacArtur fellowship winner Vijay Iyer

Improv Quote of the Day: Funny Noises

Improv Quote of the Day: Funny Noises

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] (Photo credit: pellaea)[/caption] I remember worki...

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Tag: ben-dowling, improv-quote, improvisation

Improv Game of the Day: Clusters

Improv Game of the Day: Clusters

1-2 players, at the piano. Player One picks any three adjacent white keys on the piano in the middl...

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Tag: clusters, improvisation, improvisation-game, piano, piano-game, tone-clusters

Improv Quote of the Day: The Alpha and Omega of Improv

Improv Quote of the Day: The Alpha and Omega of Improv

Listening is the alpha and omega of improvisational music. –Stephen Nachmanovitch ...

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Tag: improv-quote, improvisation, listening

Improv Game of the Day: Mary, Mary, Quite Varied

Improv Game of the Day: Mary, Mary, Quite Varied

I'm back from two weeks at the Kendall Betts Horn Camp in the wilds of New Hampshire. I   had a t...

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Tag: improv-game, improvisation, kendall-betts-horn-camp, mary-had-a-little-lamb

Interval Improv Game - Recording by Nate Trier

Nate Trier has a blog on topics in improvisation and composition that you should definitely visit. I...

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Tag: improv-games-2, improv-games-for-one-player, improvisation, nate-trier