07/18/13

Music Environments – book quotes

MACBA (XVII) - Minimalism in white

(Photo credit: MarcelGermain)

I actually got the book some months ago, but didn’t get the chance to do much more than start it:

Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening, Improvising, and Composing by Richard Vella.

There is no book quite like it – it’s very dense with information and ideas on the creative process. The part that I am now reading and taking notes on (I don’t like to read nonfiction without a pencil in hand) is the “Teaching Strategies for Improvisation.” If you are a kindred soul who reads this column regularly (at least whenever I post something), you should probably run, not walk, to order a copy of this book. Let me share/tease a bit and give you some quotes from this chapter (p. 99):

Improvisation is:

•a valuable tool for understanding creative and musical thinking.

•can involve working with existing or known structures from which one explores new possibilities, or outcomes.

•is a real-time interaction and involves spontaneous decision-making either consciously or unconsciously.

Continue reading

04/23/13

It’s a New Day: Composing with Kids

The Future of Classical Music by Greg Sandow has long been one of my favorite blogs. His latest post was an account from Sally Whitwell about her “experience as a performer and composition workshop presenter for teenagers at the Perth International Arts Festival”; if you’re interested in creativity in music and music education, this is a must-read.

Whitwell was shocked, shocked that the festival had a hard time finding classical musicians to do creative workshops.

I won’t rehash the whole post – you should read the original to get the details of how she worked with the kids to use text and workshopped melodies to create a song (see below). The staff turned the ideas into a notated composition that was later performed:

“In my perfect world, all kids would have this opportunity to be creative with music.”

Amen.

Thanks Sally, and thanks Greg!

12/5/12

New Web Site: Composition Insights

English: Insights

This post is to announce that I have started a new blog: Composition Insights (http://compositioninsights.com). If you are interested in slow improvisation – the kind of creative music making that involves ink – have a look some time. I just found that there were things to talk about that didn’t really fit either of my other blogs (horn, improvisation), so it was time to start a new one. Have a look some time; I’m always pleased to get comments, which often spark more interesting discussion.

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01/29/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Chopin Unbound

Frédéric Chopin as portrayed by Eugène Delacro...

The other day I heard Chopin improvise at George Sand’s house. It is marvelous to hear Chopin compose in this way: his inspiration is so immediate and complete that he plays without hesitation as if it could not be otherwise.
 But when it comes to writing it down and recapturing the original thought in all its details, he spends days of nervous strain and almost terrible despair.

– Karl Flitsch

01/22/12

Improv Quote of the Day: How Did the Dots Get There?

Example of game

Many musicians are fabulously skilled at playing the black dots on the printed page, but mystified by how the dots got there in the first place and apprehensive of playing without dots. Music theory does not help here; it teaches rules of the grammar, but not what to say. When people ask me how to improvise, only a little of what I can say is about music. The real story is about spontaneous expression, and it is therefore a spiritual and a psychological story rather than a story about the technique of one art form or another.

–Stephen Nachmanovitch