There is not a single good musician or composer in the world who is incapable of improvising.
Personally, I like to think that many of the classical performers who say they "can't improvise" just a need a little taste of possibility. They perch trembling at the edge of the water like ducklings, unaware of the potential within themselves.
If I had to guess, it's just a problem of education — it's hard to read and remember complicated music in the Western Art music tradition. But it's arguably harder to understand why or how some of the music sounds good.
And, no, I'm not claiming to be any better than anyone else. It's a goal to strive for, to become a good musician, rather than just copying fly-shit off a page.
Yes, it is funny that organists are expected to improvise, as a matter of course, and that pianists these days...well, they have their hands full just doing concert études and so on.
If I were to guess, it's same idea as what you said: just not enough hours in the day, and people get big applause for recreating various things
And in "classical" music, it's convenient: there's a lot of fantastic music, and no shortage of people who know how to play it.
I don't think it's irrelevant that there are a comparatively few number of interpreters who understand the music, though: I'd be shocked if anyone who understands the structure of a piece weren't able to at least make a little pastiche in the style of so-and-so composer.
Well, there's marketing and the big labels putting people out there, but that's another thing.
Hell, I can do it and I'm no good at "concert repertoire," beyond like ABRSM 8. It may suck, but a big ego and a willingness to try helps.
Sorry but I think some of that has to be inherent. We have one of the best musical schools here in the world locally and those classical students would be lost in a soul or reggae groove. It's just not what they do. They are practicing Rachmaninoff or Shostakovitch not dissecting why a Temptation song works or doesn't work. It's a totally different type of musician. It's a completely different world as I work at the University it's attached too. That music school's vibe is definitely kind of elitist.
"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"
. It's a totally different type of musician. It's a completely different world as I work at the University it's attached too. That music school's vibe is definitely kind of elitist.
Jason, this elitist attitude is prevalent in the European “Clasical” world. If you look at old issues of “The Etude” they are rife with articles on “Why Ragtime is Dangerous to your Piano Technique” etc. etc. ad nauseaum.
Last edited by jimkost2002; 02/14/1912:08 PM.
"I have constantly tried to deliver only products which withstand the closest scrutiny
I was taught piano as a kid by learning classical pieces, but i long ago devolved to being a simple rocker. I'm now an old rocker. this thread, i'll tell ya, its really something else.
these cats are more elitist than those cats. These ones can't adapt like the others. and of course, these dudes love classical because of their neo-imperialist white male domination fetish. (thats my favorite sub-theme in the thread).
Being just an old rocker, i can tell you all of these sub-segments look down on me and my ilk. All i can add is that I'm very humored by the immense dense smug cloud collectively generated from this discussion - please continue.
The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
Not really a classical fan anymore as much as I used to, now I’m more pushing towards the replacement of orchestras, horn sections, and string sections by synthesizers and VSTs. To me, a song should have at least bass, guitar, drums, and keys mostly and maybe ethnic instruments.
Last edited by Music Bird; 02/14/1906:46 PM.
Yamaha MX49, Casio SK1/WK-7600, Korg Minilogue, Alesis SR-16, Casio CT-X3000, FL Studio, many VSTs, percussion, woodwinds, strings, and sound effects.
Well I'm back for Forum Friday and pretty much the response I expected. Did anyone read the book yet? Because it addresses all this stuff and imo does it very well. You may be surprised how much the author agrees with many of the points here. But wait...there's more although I won't try to regurgitate any of my new found revelations or "aha" moments (there are plenty to be had). As I stated last time this book is not focused on musicians but on listeners of all kinds of music. Doesn't matter whether you grew up on classical music or play it currently; or if you're open to and value all kinds of music (including classical); or if your community has a large hand in supporting these type of arts. Btw the book could have easily been titled "Who Needs Art" ? (Cue Synthoid )
I tend to continually reinforce my own opinions with these type subjects, over and over and over. You may as well. Sometimes you need something to really shake up your deeply ingrained thinking. I don't think discussing it here is really going to change anyone's current thinking, and not saying that's the goal here. But reading the book just may...or not. Btw I wasn't looking for this type of book, just happened to recently stumble upon it in a used book store.I only paid $5 for the book so count me out of the elitist book reader club.
This conversation has been thought provoking and interesting on many levels for me. Thanks to Mark for bringing it up. And to MOI for an interesting idea. I like to think that we can all carry more than one idea with us. I'm not trying to score points in an argument, but to add texture to our conversation. May I share a couple of personal vignettes?
My grandmother played classical organ in church in one of the British colonies and met my grandfather because he sought her out after hearing her play. He had been living in a different British colony. It's a beautiful love story for my family about how he courted her, swept her off her feet and took her to a country she didn't know. Lest you think that puts me in "all hail European music" camp how about a second story?
She used to love to sing with gusto, a song she was taught in school under colonial rule ... "Rule Brittania! Brittania rule the waves! Britons never never never shall be slaves." That song was written while the triangular trade (in slaves!) was still under way. You can imagine how wrecked I feel about that song and the mindshare it had with my grandmother.
I still love all kinds of music but perhaps Crazy Jane was right?
"Love has pitched his mansion in the place of excrement; For nothing can be sole or whole That has not been rent."
Indonesia was a former European colony but gamelan is said to have influenced some European composers from Debussy onwards. It's fitting that somebody produced this album featuring Indonesian composers doing their thing, and also incorporating modern tech such as synths and samplers.
Another modern classical composer, though tragically passed away at a young age. Seems to be rediscovered by the contemporary classical community every few years. Being black and gay kept him kind of tucked away in obscurity.
There have been some excellent points made about improvisation, and since I began a conversation with a concert pianist recently about why "many classical musicians can't improvise today and popular musicians can", I had to do a little research. This is what I found ...
The difference between jazz and classical is the pedagogy, not the people. In the galant period (end of baroque, beginning of classical), a number of devices such as Partimenti were utilized extensively to provide improvisation frameworks, learned in apprentice fashion, just like in jazz. It’s a middle ground between musical theory and musical performance, because it is internalized (like driving a car), just as jazz licks, scales and patterns are. Galant schemata are quite detailed. and seemed to have begun at Naples and migrated elsewhere.
With the rise of formal theory in late 19th century conservatories, these tools became less internalized, and classical musicians began to lose the ability to 'jam". Recent research has rediscovered and implemented these tools. Rudolf Lutz and Bob Gjerdingen are key figures in this movement. One young student who has been taught partimenti is here improvising with her teacher on Skype:
To me, Jazz is America's classical music hailing from New Orleans in the late 1800s. Her vocabulary has influenced, pop, rock, gospel and a host of musical traditions. Her cousin is the discipline of Partimenti, hailing from Naples in the late 1600s. Her vocabulary has influenced baroque, classical and other European traditions. They are both awesome.
The difference between jazz and classical is the pedagogy, not the people.
Sometimes you read something both obvious and mind-expanding. This rocked my morning JerryA; thanks for doing the research and digging that knowledge up!
Of course it makes total sense that classical forms and techniques can be understood, internalized, and used for improv just as we're familiar doing in jazz or other more contemporary idioms, and it amazes me that I've never had a teacher or been in a classical learning environment where anyone even mentioned such a thing.