Chris Johnston on Performance and Improvisation (Quote)


In the beginning, when clouds were God’s breath, and buffaloes roared without fear, and time was uncounted except by death and birth and the sky darkening, there was performance. And it was never counted as special or apart because it was and it was what happened and without it we thought there would be drought and insufficiency and possibly war when you wanted peace, or peace when you wanted war. So we moved and shook and spoke in sequences of unidentified languages and evoked harmony in ourselves and terror in our enemies. And we urged ourselves good fortune and bonded with each other and reinforced ourselves as tribe of reindeer or mountain or lyre bird.

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Music Instigator – Interview with Jeffrey Agrell

Bill Arnold interviewed me last month and just published the edited results on his web site, The Music Instigator (there are also a couple of embedded videos of me improvising with Lin Foulk and Werner Elmker). The audio interview is entitled: “Jeffrey Agrell – Improvisation for Everyone”

I’ve only listened to the beginning of it, but I think he did a good job in putting it together. And the title really sums it all up! Thanks, Bill!


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.


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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Improv Game of the Day: Densities

3+ players. No key! Experiment with density of notes. Play some dense flurries of as many notes per ...

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Tag: classical-improvisation, densities, improv-game, improvisation, texture

Classical Jam Improv Two 6 (ostinato)


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Tag: classical-improvisation, french-horn, horn, improv-game, improvisation, improvisation-games-for-classical-musicians, jeffrey-agrell, lin-foulk, ostinato

Improv Quote of the Day: How Improv is Like Ice Hockey

Improv Quote of the Day: How Improv is Like Ice Hockey

[The use of improvisation] makes it impossible for any two players to execute K. 622 the same way, ...

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Tag: hockey, improv-quote, improvisation, mozart

Improv Games of the Day: Forever Young!

Improv Games of the Day: Forever Young!

Nobody makes it alone. We all need teachers, mentors, friends, and community to help us through life...

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Tag: charles-rochester-young, evan-mazunik, university-of-wisconsin-stevens-point

How to Improvise

My favorite improv quote is a paraphrase from Free Play, the mother of all improvisation books by St...

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Tag: classical-improvisation, how-to-improvise, improvisation, music-education, value-of-mistakes