10/23/14

Classical Improv Jam #2 – (video) Drone + Harmonic Series

This time Lin and I trade solos over a drone; the soloist’s notes are limited to the notes of the natural horn, i.e. the harmonic series.

10/22/14

Classical Jam #1! (improv Video)

My book Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians (354 p,. 2008, GIA Publ.) has been out for a while and has enjoyed a certain modest success among classical musicians who would like to start creating their own music (aka improvising). But it has lacked one thing: video/audio examples of what this classical improv thing is. There is of course no one right answer – what it sounds like will depend on whose playing, and even the same players may have wildly different versions of any particular game. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have some examples of a few possibilities of some of the games.  Continue reading

05/28/14

The Ethos Collective – classical improv ensemble

English: View of downtown Vancouver from the L...

Downtown Vancouver

I just discovered the Vancouver-based classical improvisation ensemble The Ethos Collective via an article in the Vancouver Observer. Wonderful, fresh, refreshing stuff! Take a look at their web site for more information, and better, more videos. Here is one to give a taste:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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05/20/14

One Road to Improv: the Tongue Drum

Can you name the item

(Photo credit: willapalens)

The best way for beginners to start improvising is to play simple percussion. You can start right now, tapping on anything, although it is nice to have a mentor to show you ways to acquire skills and provide examples of interesting rhythms and use of accents, meters, timbres, etc. YouTube has an endless supply of all kinds of instruments, rhythms, timbres, ensembles, etc. You don’t need anything fancy – a tabletop or some cardboard boxes will do just fine, but it is also a pleasure to have some real instruments to play as well.

My second favorite percussion instrument (first place: the djembe) is the tongue (or slit) drum. They are not terribly cheap, but you can make fascinating rhythmic patterns with them very easily – the different “tones” add a touch of pitch variety. Note: I am referring here only to wooden ones; there is another class of metal tongue drums – we’ll take that up another time.

Listen to this nicely recorded performance of Tyrone Douglas playing 3 tongue drums:

Chmiller912 gives a terrific performance on a single tongue drum tuned to F minor pentatonic (3:10):

 

Steve Carmichael show us how to make your own tongue drum in this video (17:30). Thanks, Steve!

Continue reading