When I first got started in investigating (for want of a better word) classical improvisation on the horn about a dozen years ago, I didn’t know about what was already out there in this area. In a way, my ignorance turned out to be (sort of) a good thing in a way, because it forced me to discover and invent my own trail through the wilderness. I kept discovering names, books, articles, performers, recordings, etc. along the way, and was and am grateful for the chance to learn from them – and not have to re-invent all the wheels. It was also nice not feeling so alone in this interest in nonjazz improvisation. It’s like being alone on a Pacific isle and then finding that there are other isles out there of people who have come before and had similar experiences and interests.
I’m still discovering people and books, etc. My latest find is Bert Konowitz. Dr. Konowitz is a professor of music at Columbia University Teacher’s College (my mom’s alma mater!), where he teaches courses in jazz and classical music improvisation. His experience and creative output in all kinds of improvisation is huge and I am shocked that I didn’t run across him much sooner.
One reason he probably didn’t turn up in earlier searches is that he has written, oh, two million how-to improvise books for jazz piano, and I did only limited searching in the jazz area. But I just ran across his 1973 book Music Improvisation as a Classroom Method (Alfred) and what a joy it is. I am working my way through it, taking notes. It’s not a long book, but it will take me some time to get through it because I am writing down practically the whole book in notes. Great stuff! I will go on a daily run of Konowitz Quotes for a while to share my find with you.
Here’s the first one, from this book:
Musical improvisation is not a mystical, inexplicable phenomenon reserved for an exclusive few. It is a technique of creation and performance which is developed as skills are reduced to seemingly second nature. –Bert Konowitz