Improv Quote of the Day: Medieval Music and Notation

The pitches found in a medieval manuscript were never intended as indications which would lead to a piece’s definitive performance, such as we normally use notation as a basis for performance today. In the Middle Ages, performers did not generally use notation, and therefore did not conceive of music in such terms. Thus, one could speak of our manuscript sources – admittedly the main evidence we have to go by – as mere skeletons, very much in need of conceptual fleshing out and understanding, and not as a reality.

–Barbara Thornton


Improv Class in Nova Scotia

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIt’s been a busy summer – 5 weeks away from home. Two weeks at horn camp in New Hampshire and almost three weeks in Nova Scotia. It’s nice to be home, but I enjoyed my time greatly both places. I’ve talked about it here before, but I want to briefly talk about my time teaching at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS.

The wondrous and amazing Ardith Haley, with music ed rock star Dale Lonis were the instigators of this unique course at Acadia. It’s a 2-year masters of music education program that is done mostly through distance learning, with 2 – two week residency sessions (each July) over the two year period of the course. The participants are are all seasoned music teachers, ranging in age (guessing) from late 20’s to late 50’s; they teach all kinds of music – classroom music, band, orchestra, elementary to high school. They are almost all Canadian, mostly from the eastern end of the country, but a few from the middle and west.

My course for this cohort of 15 consisted of 3 hours a day doing nonjazz improvisation. Teaching this group was not like teaching the students back home at the University of Iowa. These folks are professionals – they do music and teach music for a living. They have great attitudes and they learn fast. Thus, it was a supreme treat for me to work with people like this. The only tricky part is the part that they share with anyone doing improv for the first time – they are very apprehensive about it (I was, too) at first.

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New Improvisation Card Game: Tonic

Pianist Scott Hughes recently crowd funded (Kickstarter) a project to build a card game to help musicians practice improvisation. It’s called Tonic, and you can download it for free. Scott says:

I believe improvisation is the #1 greatest thing a musician can do to improve him or herself as a player and as a person. The tragedy is that it’s not taught in standard music programs, and as a result most musicians are afraid of it. I studied music at UArts and Temple and saw a lot of the usual problems, so I want to provide an alternative.



Enhancing Musical Creativity with Meditation (guest post)

By Doug Hanvey

As a music teacher, and former instructor of an undergraduate class on mindfulness meditation (at Indiana University Bloomington from 2007 to 2014), I am fascinated by the many possible applications of meditation to music. One of these applications is creativity.

The Source of Creativity

Albert Einstein said “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” Like most geniuses, Einstein understood that the source of creativity is beyond the mind. And, of course, what is beyond the mind is mysterious – at least to the mind!

Musicians can upgrade their creativity by becoming more familiar and comfortable with the mysterious place from which all thought and creativity arise. Meditation is a proven way of doing this.

Now, I realize that by using terms such as “beyond the mind” and “space of awareness,” I can be accused of New Age philosophizing that has no practical relevance to everyday life. Yet, as evidenced by Einstein’s appreciation thereof (not to mention that of many other artists and scientists), getting comfortable with the space beyond thoughts is as practical and useful as tying one’s own shoes, particularly for creative activities like improvising.

Meditation is a superb practice for any creative musician. Let me tell you about two types of meditation, both of which I’ve practiced extensively, and both of which I’ve found to be extremely powerful for boosting creativity.

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David Byrne on Creativity in Music

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailThe act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things. And yet, for a very long time, the attitude of the state toward teaching and funding the arts has been in direct opposition to fostering creativity among the general population. It can often seem that those in power don’t want us to enjoy making things for ourselves – they’d prefer to establish a cultural hierarchy that devalues our amateur efforts and encourages consumption rather than creation. … Capitalism tends toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many ways this tendency is counterproductive. Our innovations and creations, after all, are what keep many seemingly unrelated industries alive.

– David Byrne, How Music Works


Improv Quote: Obsession with notation

In the West… aural tradition has essentially died out in relation to classical music. This great l...

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Tag: aural-tradition, bill-dobbins, improv-quote, music-notation

Classical Jam Two 4 (Hn + perc)


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

David Byrne on Creativity in Music

David Byrne on Creativity in Music

The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different and possibly more beneficia...

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Tag: creativity, david-byrne, how-music-works, improv-quote

Improv Game of the Day: Descriptive Improv Experiments

Improv Game of the Day: Descriptive Improv Experiments

2+ players. Canadian composer, writer, and educator R. Murray Schafer has long been one of the mos...

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Tag: creative-music-education, creativity, descriptive-music, improv-games-2, improvisation, music-education, r-murray-schafer

Soundpainting #6: February Variations

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlLAknOpgyg&w=420&h=315]...

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Tag: evan-mazunik, soundpainting