11/28/13

Paths Become Lines (Sirius Quartet – video)

New discovery (for me): the Sirius [string] Quartet. From their web site:

“Born and bred in the downtown scene of New York City, the Sirius Quartet blends the precision of classical music with the energy of a rock band.  The four conservatory-trained musicians are also highly skilled improvisers. Whether playing acoustically or with electronic effects they push beyond the conventional sonic vocabulary associated with string instruments.  From Lincoln Center and the Köln Triennale to the Knitting Factory and CBGB’s the Sirius makes itself at home in a wide range of venues and musical styles.

For over a decade the SIRIUS QUARTET has championed innovative music.  Expanding beyond the classical repertoire, these four strong improvisers and composers have enjoyed performing works influenced by rock, jazz, and other popular styles.  Through this interest in popular music the Sirius has developed a repertoire of electronic music for strings.  These pieces are more than simply a louder, amplified quartet; these pieces hope to widen the sonic palate of the string quartet through processing.”

Here’s a video of a performance:

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06/24/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Choice is frightening

The League of Frightened Men (1937 film)

The training of musicians has become largely concerned with how to interpret a score according to the conventions of the time, and classically trained musicians, by and large, become not only incapable of improvisation, but actually frightened of even attempting it.

–Rod Paton, Lifemusic: Connecting People to Time

05/25/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Sing and Dance!

Joseph Haydn

The canon which runs from antiquity via Palestrina and Bach and through to Schoenberg via Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven is truly a wonderful tradition full of beautiful music. But who needs it any more? And when did people begin sitting down to listen to music instead of dancing and singing along? Compared to the joys of group improvisation, this great European tradition seems like so much hierarchical social nonsense studded with genius.

Johann Sebastian Bach

–Rod Paton (from his web site www.rodpaton.com)

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven

Mozart, about 1780. Detail of Mozart family po...

05/11/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Good ––> Outstanding

Improvisation

Improvisation (Photo credit: Dave Kleinschmidt)

[Improvisation] training will develop the skills that separate a player who is outstanding from one who is merely good. Some musicians argue that there is no real need for improvisation training in the world of today’s classical musician, since most players are not called upon to improvise in a performance setting… Then again, most musicians don’t have to sight-sing every day, but is still required in most colleges and conservatories because we know that the learning process involved in this study makes out students better musicians.

–Nicole M. Brockmann, From Sight to Sound: Improvisational Games for Classical Musicians

05/4/12

(Big) Improv Quote of the Day: What Does Improvisation Do For a Musician?

Awareness

(Photo credit: Emilie Ogez)

For one, it gives me a break from tackling my wrong notes, distasteful vibrato, and being torn between interpretations in the practice room. There are no wrong notes, no wrong inflections. I wouldn’t say that a note during improv with “distasteful” vibrato/intonation/whatever was necessarily done on purpose, but was made in the moment and without expectation. There is something very freeing and empowering about this. What happens on accident- a cracked note, or a gasping breath, can turn into inspiration for what is to come.

At the same time, I can tackle my classical music troubles through improv. Lately, I’ve had issues with controlling the style of my double tonguing. I’ll start moving my fingers, with no regard to scales or my piece, and focus solely on my double tonguing. This allows my mind to be entirely focused on the production of my tonguing, because I am not going to be distracted by the fingers in an awkward passage, or by the monotony of scales.

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