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Re: improvisation classical

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Posted by Django Pastorius on April 22, 2001 at 11:11:21:

In Reply to: improvisation classical posted by slam stewart biggest fan on April 22, 2001 at 07:23:12:

I am not a music instructor but I have an opinion.

So take everything I say with a grain of salt.

In Jazz, I take "improvisation" to mean that, even though I have a good idea of the theme, I am at the least going to play the solo differently on different nights.

In classical, however, the "solos" are generally written out, so the "improvisation" aspect is largely missing except how the players listen to each other and accent the score (interpretation).

BUT - it wasn't always that way. Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor has one of the great violin solos in it (play the cadenza on bass as a real good workout). Prior to this work, there was a spot in the music which the composer left open for the star performer to improvise. Mendelssohn broke with tradition by writing out the solo, instead of leaving it for the performer to fill-in. Also, this was the first instrumental piece - I think - where the soloist kicks off the piece instead of having orchestra perform the opening without him. You will notice that many classical works for a featured piece like piano concertos (think Rachmaninoff for example) where the orchestra opens with the theme and the piano enters later and reiterates the theme before zooming off.

For improvisation in Classical music,I tend to think of the Turtle Island String Quartet, but in reality, they are classical musicians who switch over from a classical idiom (and written structured score) to a freer based improvisational (jazz) format (with structured format and theme, but not necessarily written out note per note).

Interestingly, a lot of new music (rock and alternative) feature a solo guitar piece that gets formalized with time - think beatles solos or "Free Bird" by Lynnard Skynerd. The Free Bird solo is written out because it the two guitarists playing together need to synchronize. So we seem to be coming full cycle again where improvisation leads to formalized solos.

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