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Topic: cziffra-esque improvisation  (Read 5058 times)

Offline julie391

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cziffra-esque improvisation
on: November 19, 2004, 02:09:27 PM
there are plenty resources on learning to improvise in jazz style

but since seeing a video of cziffra improvising in his own inimitable style - i have wondered how to study this type of improv

any advice? methods?

Offline Op. 1 No. 2

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #1 on: November 19, 2004, 05:26:52 PM
Improvise a lot yourself.

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #2 on: November 19, 2004, 05:28:11 PM
i have done so

but i am still WOWED by cziffra's improvisations, they seem to embrace every technique on the planet, is there any systematic way to learn to do this?

Offline super_ardua

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #3 on: November 19, 2004, 05:39:14 PM
There must be some sort of book or website out there on classical improvisation...it was done quite commonly in Beethoven and liszt's time.  there must be some kind of textbook....
We must do,  we shall do!!!

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #4 on: November 19, 2004, 07:18:14 PM
There must be some sort of book or website out there on classical improvisation...it was done quite commonly in Beethoven and liszt's time.  there must be some kind of textbook....


Try

Gerre Hancock – Improvising – How to master the art (Oxford University Press)

Hancock was a student of Nadia Boulanger and this book is an excellent workbook, giving several ideas an exercises in most of the classical forms (Canon, fugue, sonatas etc.).

If you read French (I am not sure if a translation exists, it may), you can try the “Bible”: Marcel Dupre  - Cours complete d’improvisation a l’orgue (Alphonse Leduc) in 2 volumes.

(although these books target primarily the organ, most of what they say is transferrable to the piano)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #5 on: November 19, 2004, 09:21:27 PM
thanks, could you also offer your own god-like wisdom on this matter?  ;D

particularly regarding what cziffra does - the multi-technical extravaganza  8)

Offline chromatickler

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #6 on: November 19, 2004, 09:35:42 PM
there are plenty resources on learning to improvise in jazz style

but since seeing a video of cziffra improvising in his own inimitable style - i have wondered how to study this type of improv

any advice? methods?
This is like asking advice on how to play 10/2 like RUDY.  8)

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #7 on: November 19, 2004, 10:15:48 PM
mikhail rudy?

i didnt know he played chopin's etudes - if thats what you are referring to

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #8 on: November 20, 2004, 12:10:52 AM
thanks, could you also offer your own god-like wisdom on this matter?  ;D

particularly regarding what cziffra does - the multi-technical extravaganza  8)

I find difficult to express in writing the principles and ideas relating to improvisation. Being a mediocre improviser myself, I am not sure I can speak about it with any authority. Interestingly enough I have taught people to improvise who now can improvise far better than I can.  :'(

I hope Ted reads this thread and gives some input because he has some of the most interesting and thought-provoking posts in these matters.

So here are some provisional thoughts on the subject, in no logical order.

1.   I recently read the autobiography of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. One looks at the Guggenhein museum in NY, and we are amazed at a how such a building was built. There are some pictures in the book showing the several stages. And for a long time the building site looked terrible. What a mess! A big hole in the ground, materials scattered everywhere, mud, a horribly looking structure. And yet, once the building was ready and landscaped, what a marvel. We look and listen at accomplished improvisers like Cziffra, Keith Jarret or Egberto Gismonti, and we often forget that we are looking at the finished building, decorated and landscaped. But once upon  a time, they too were a mess of a building site. When we attempt our first steps in improvisation, we compare our messy building site with a finished, landscaped top architectural building and we feel frustrated and depressed. But are we doing a fair comparison? To keep going with the architectural analogy, Lloyd Wright had a plan. He was not building a shack.. He was building – in his vision – the most amazing art museum in the world. The whole world may have disagreed, but he was convinced of the worth of his project. So, when we plan to become improvisers, what is our project? A modest hut, or the most amazing building in the world? In order to improvise like Cziffra (and I do not mean here in his style, but with his flamboyance), one needs the same arrogance and supreme self-confidence. Yes, right now the building site looks like s**t, but wait when the building is ready! This is a huge psychological block that no amount of practice or instruction or theoretical knowledge can overcome. If your project is a shack, you will never end up with a Guggenheim.

2.   Classical performers, raised on a diet of respect to the minutiae of score directions and respect to the composer’s intentions are not the best candidates for improvisation. In my opinion the most important principle when improvising is that nothing you do is wrong. Yet this is a very difficult mental wall to climb. I have seen many students developing some wonderful sounds, and suddenly they stop because somehow they believe they made a “mistake”. Somehow the sound they produced at the piano did not correspond to the sound they had in their minds. To have a sound in your mind is a very important strategy for a classical musician (if you hear it clear enough the fingers will comply), but in improvisation it automatically sets you up for failure. I would suggest that a much better approach is not to have any sound at all in mind, and simply, well, improvise! Rather than determining where the music must go beforehand and controlling its movement – a perfectly valid approach when performing music written by others – when improvising one should be very curious to see where the music is going to take us. My instruction to students with this particular kind of mental block is simple: If you hit what to you seems like a wrong note, repeat it three or four times. So it is no longer a mistake but something you are now doing on purpose, and that will lead your improvisation in a new direction. To me the process of improvisation (both mental and physical) is in many ways similar to the process of automatic writing. You do not know what you are writing, you just write, and at the end you read it and you may be very surprised that rather than it all being a load of random ramblings, there is there a coherent and many times uncannily informative text with information you did not know you had.

3.   Improvisation may be a misnomer. I have watched Jacques Loussier doing jazz style improvisation on Bach pieces on many different occasions. And it was not different every time. In fact, he always did the same improvisation to the same pieces. I get the gnawing suspicion that a lot of improvisations are carefully and exhaustively rehearsed.

4.   As I look at top improvisers going about their business, the common factor that stands out for me, is how much they are immersed in it. How much they are enjoying it. They might as well be in the privacy of their own home. The audience does not exist, and any thought of showing off is clearly not in their minds: They are as transported by the music they are creating as is the audience.

5.   One cannot improvise with one’s consciousness, with one’s awareness. Improvisation is the job of the unconscious. The only role allowed to consciousness and awareness it the role of admiring and appreciative audience. Any attempt from the part of this audience to join in the music making is bound to end up in disaster, and it is going to be as welcome by the performer (the unconscious) as Andras Schiff would welcome a spontaneous rhythmic clapping from the audience accompanying his rendition of Bach Giga in Partita I.

6.   From the above, it seems to follow that improvisation requires a certain specific inner state, a definite place in our minds. Once we are firmly established in this special place, the outward form of our improvisation will be a consequence of the repertory of techniques/musical idioms that are at the disposal of our unconscious (This is of course the bit where books, teachers and lessons have their place – they may supply us with this repertory). Hence the very different improvisations of Cziffra and Jarret: They have different unconscious minds. If one wants to improvise like Cziffra, one must program one’s unconscious with the same material. The difficulty of this task explains the uniqueness of Cziffra’s (or anyone else’s) improvisation. And of course, besides the question of difficulty (or possibility / impossibility) there is the question of desirability. Even if it was possible to build an unconscious like Cziffra’s, would it be desirable? ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #9 on: November 20, 2004, 12:19:33 AM
1 thing - have you seen/heard cziffra improvise?

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #10 on: November 20, 2004, 12:49:36 AM
Only on video/DVD.

Have a look here, you may find it tinteresting:

https://users.pandora.be/marcel/cziffra_improvisation_website.htm

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #11 on: November 20, 2004, 12:51:49 AM
indeed, ive read that before


just wondering a little off-topic here-
what are your opinions on cziffra as a performer and as an improviser?

i find him amazing in both areas

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #12 on: November 20, 2004, 12:59:03 AM
indeed, ive read that before


just wondering a little off-topic here-
what are your opinions on cziffra as a performer and as an improviser?

i find him amazing in both areas

I totally agree.

But what I find most interesting is how idiossincratic (and yet extremely effective) his technique (= movements) is.

Once I attended a seminar by a superb teacher who had many interesting things to say about technique, many of which I adopted in my own palying and teaching. Yet, when I watched her students play, what struck me was how exactly alike they all were. Somhow this seeemed very wrong (even though they all pllayed very well).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline mosis

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #13 on: November 20, 2004, 08:21:56 PM
indeed, ive read that before


just wondering a little off-topic here-
what are your opinions on cziffra as a performer and as an improviser?

i find him amazing in both areas

I totally agree.

But what I find most interesting is how idiossincratic (and yet extremely effective) his technique (= movements) is.

Once I attended a seminar by a superb teacher who had many interesting things to say about technique, many of which I adopted in my own palying and teaching. Yet, when I watched her students play, what struck me was how exactly alike they all were. Somhow this seeemed very wrong (even though they all pllayed very well).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

1. What does idiossincratic mean?

2. Why was it very wrong that they all were alike?

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #14 on: November 21, 2004, 02:53:05 PM
1. What does idiossincratic mean?

2. Why was it very wrong that they all were alike?

idiossincrasy – a mode of  behaviour or way of thought peculiar to an individual; a distinctive characteristic of a thing. (Oxford Dictionary)

All of the great pianists had idiossincratic (= very personal and inimitable) movements and sounds. They were the result of years investigating and ingraining the movements that would make it easy for them to achieve the specific (and again) personal sound they were after. All you have to do is watch videos of Serkin, Kempf, Gould, Argerich, Freire, Pogorelich, Cziffra, Paderewsky, Tureck, Horowits, Rubinstein, Richter and so on, to immediately realise that they are all highly idiossincratic. This is good. It has to be good.  :D

However when you have 40 or so pianists all playing with the same movements (even though these may be optimal, injury free movements), and generating more or less the same sound (even though this sound may be pleasant and correct), I personally think that these people are perhaps following instructions too much and not investigating enough – and adapting – what they had been taught.

But then I dislike uniformity (a very sought after quality if you are into corporate business). Years ago I was aghast at MacDonald’s adverts that claimed with great pride that wherever you were in the world you could always count on going into a MacDonald’s establishment and be sure of eating exactly the same Big Mac with exactly the same taste. I see no reason for pride in that statement. In fact it puts me right off that establishment (they have changed that policy somewhat in recent years). >:(

It keeps reminding me of the old ancient Chinese quote (apparently a favourite with Horowitz): “Do not follow in the master’s footsteps, rather seek what they sought.”

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline mound

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #15 on: November 21, 2004, 03:43:35 PM
Excellent posts Bernhard.

This Book looks interesting. My teacher recommended it to me, showed me his copy, I perused it for a bit, then ordered my own.  I haven't read it yet, but I look forward to doing so.

-Paul

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #16 on: November 21, 2004, 03:50:27 PM
improvising on piano is a very unique thing - its far more complex than for just about any other instument

also - being a solo instrument - pianists can go on extremely wild tangents and be extremely eccentric in every way - cziffra's rhytmic style and spontineity would be impossible in an ensemble

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #17 on: November 21, 2004, 04:06:28 PM
bernhard, thanks for your thesis on improvisation in general - but what im specifically looking for ideas and methods on is pianistic improvisation

i have some ideas of my own, but i would like to hear some more input

another thing i wonder about - is it possible to improvise 2 seperate melodies or even improvise a fugue-like piece?

Offline ted

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #18 on: November 21, 2004, 10:10:30 PM
Julie, it is extremely difficult to transmit “instructions” about improvisation. I could write screeds of stuff here and not really help anybody. Improvisation, and its subset of composition for that matter, is a much deeper and much more complicated process than matters of physical technique, notation and other musical issues.

Bernhard has, I believe very correctly, stated that the main obstacle to creation (probably in any field, not just music) for most people is inhibition – worrying about rights, wrongs, comparisons with famous names, what others may think and so on. I find it immeasurably sad that an overwhelming percentage of players, sometimes very accomplished, talented, even famous players, cannot sit down and play spontaneously.

The other point, which Bernhard’s last example has admirably illustrated, is that when we improvise, when we create something, we are, in the nature of the act, best when we are completely ourselves. I too have attended a recital of pupils of one teacher, where almost thirty young people ranging in age from eight to around twenty played the same sort of music in  precisely the same way both mentally and physically. I came away feeling pretty depressed and needed a good dose of improvisation to get over it !

If the drive, as opposed to the actual faculty, to improvise, compose and generally create is already there, I believe that the right teacher can bring it out. It is not magic, genius or a mystical gift from “out there” somewhere. I know this because my teacher did it with me when I was young. However, it does take a special sort of teacher firstly to recognize that fertile soil exists and secondly to nourish the growth once  seeds are planted, so to speak.

Sure, I can tell you details of exactly what my teacher did with me, and if you really want this then email me and I shall do it for you; I am committed to encouraging this particular function, especially in young people. But his ways were very situation specific. He was about as exceptional and accomplished a musician as you could think of and I was an average talent burdened with a colossal drive I couldn’t handle. What he did was uncannily good for me but may not be of any use to you and your objectives, especially if you are solely concerned with imitating special ways of playing, which act, beyond a healthy educational foray, was never my goal.

 

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #19 on: November 22, 2004, 12:10:14 AM
thanks - but i dont think cziffra had a teacher for improvisation - and he appears to have been mostly self taught as an artist.

his playing belongs to NO SCHOOL WHATSOEVER - he is extremely unique

i do not wish to be just like him - but i would like to be capable of playing in his particular style of improvisation - along with other legends, such as jarret, tatum etc.

i know the quality of the content may not equal theirs - but i would like to have a handle on the framework that they play around with

Offline claudio

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #20 on: November 22, 2004, 01:01:40 PM
hi ted,

julie is not alone in her interest in improvisation. actually this was also my motivation
to start piano practice an now i am stuck with most beautiful classical/romantic music  ::)

if you have not yet elaborated on your improvisation technique (and i haven't
found a respective thread of yours), i am sure i would love to know too, what
"your teacher did with you".

would you mind a public discussion? thanx in advance, claudio

Offline ted

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #21 on: November 24, 2004, 07:20:36 AM
Sorry Claudio, I didn't see your post for a day or two. Well okay then, I shall post my email in reply to Julie. However, without the immediate effect of live sound and one on one discussion, the whole description sounds rather trite. Also, bear in mind that this particular approach is only one of hundreds - just one way my teacher and I worked together on to get me to play with flow. The subject matter is less important than the principle of working from a position of freedom rather than from one of discipline; it takes a bit of getting used to.

The first thing he did, I suppose, was to get me to the point where my keyboard vocabulary was large enough to say something interesting. By vocabulary, I mean keyboard patterns I guess, and their associated sounds. To this end he took me through almost every known keyboard formation in common use - chords, scales - a scale being regarded as a chord with more notes played separately, but geographically it's still a pattern of notes at the keyboard the same as a chord. We started in a simple way by learning all the major and minor chords around the key circle (C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G) in each position. That is to say, take a simple formation, say a major chord in root position with an added octave in the right hand (C-E-G-C) and go around the key circle playing that position. Any chord, scale or pattern was learned in this way - by playing it around the key circle. If you find it easy to mentally visualise the keyboard (some people do, others don't) this practice can be done mentally anywhere. In the process of playing patterns in this way their sounds were also inculcated into memory, starting with the simplest and progressing towards complicated ones.
 
Now the ability to repeat things precisely at different pitches, while useful in many spheres of musical activity, tends to get frightfully tedious and unmusical in itself. Therefore what he did then was to loosen the rule. For example, make up any single note phrases you like provided they use just the notes of one scale, say within C minor perhaps.  Get both hands going, maybe imitating rhythms and phrases one hand to the other. Let your fingers fall on any notes you like within the C minor scale and within whatever rhythm occurs to you. Don't worry about "right" or "wrong" notes because there cannot be any - no such thing. In any case, the fact that both hands are playing within one scale means the whole thing is going to sound all right in the sense of being conventional - no need to worry about what listeners think because they won't know you are improvising anyway.
 
The next step along this road, as I recall, was to go through all the keys i.e. all the scales, in the course of a session. Not necessarily around the circle or according to "rules" of classical music - just change key as you wish in as many interesting ways as you hear coming. Even the simple loose rule of using single note melody improvisation in both hands, combined with rhythmic variety, speed variation and key changing, admits to an infinity of very vital sound. Once you start slipping in extra notes with either hand, some perhaps outside the momentary key (and if you feel inclined to do this, go ahead and do it - rules are guides and are not set in concrete) this particular way of improvising bursts into flower.
 
You mentioned fugues. Well this is one direction single note improvisation can take. After all, is not a fugue just doing this sort of thing and putting as much self-reference and imitation into it as possible ? One thing he emphasised was that short phrases and melodic fragments are best. Don't worry about playing long, precise involved melodies because the flow will collapse under the strain of thinking about it. Right from the start he wanted my improvisation to flow - too much conscious thought and it will break down.
 
So as not to confuse you I'll leave it at that for now. It is one of many simultaneous, ongoing approaches we did together. Each week I had to improvise an invention for him from cold. At first I stopped and started, worried about what he would think, tried to put too much thought and structure into it. Never mind structure and form - that will take care of itself later - get the flow going first. Also, play what sounds good to you. Remember and mentally store ideas which sound good to you and physical patterns which feel good (improvisation is to a large extent physical, after all) - that's how your personal vocabulary develops.
 
I am not trying to sound pessimistic here, but even working with this man over two or three years, I didn't really "get it" until ten years later when I was nearly thirty !
 
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline julie391

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #22 on: November 25, 2004, 03:20:05 AM
thanks ted!  :)

do you know any further online resoursces on non-jazz improvisation or piano improvisation in general, or any books?

also - if you could expand on the vocabulary and the practical use of that vocabulary

specific to piano improvisation is the complexity of vertical harmony(7ths etc, inversions,etc) and piano writing itself...could you elaborate on thesee matters?

 and what about extreme types of piano writing, such as godowskian contrapuntal/polytechnical madness - and even things like chopin's 10/2 etude
would it be possible to improvise in that type of technical framework?
and how would one attain flexibility and ease/rapidity of execution in improvising this kind of stuff?

alot to think about, thanks

Offline ted

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #23 on: November 25, 2004, 09:09:55 PM
Resources on the net about improvisation which is not jazz related ? There is much there but nearly all of it comprises general discussion rather than instructions about how to do it. As I said before, I doubt this latter approach would be any good. I have reason to believe that instructional tapes and videos might communicate much of value - somebody playing things and talking about what they were doing. This might just get somewhere but, as far as I know, nobody has ever tried it in any comprehensive general sense.

Your final question is the simplest to answer – yes – very easily. However there is something which needs explaining here. I improvise things that could be called “studies” every day. Were I to transcribe these fleeting creations they would look absolutely horrendous on paper and because my improvisation is geared to my personal idiosyncratic technique (how can it be otherwise ?) they would probably be just as much uphill battles for people to learn as pieces by those composers you mention.

There is nothing in the slightest degree remarkable in this process; anybody whose improvisation flows can do it. It certainly isn’t genius and it’s not even great talent. If, on the other hand, what you mean is can we sit down and improvise skilful imitation Chopin, Godowsky, Cziffra etc, then probably very few people can do that. But as Bernhard has wisely said and, as I pointed out in my first post, improvisation is very deeply a thing of the self. The two objectives of developing a personal improvisational language and imitating other players of great talent are very different. As he says, it has to be asked why on earth we would waste time struggling to be someone else.

Complexity of vertical harmony ? If you start worrying about that your improvisation will stop before it starts. Again Bernhard, if I recall the substance of one of his other posts correctly, hit the nail on the head. When people effortlessly produce “complexity” they are not thinking “complexity”. They are thinking very simply or, dare I say it, not doing much conscious thinking at all ! Let’s take an analogy. If I speak to you and use a “complicated” word, am I thinking about its “complexity” as I say my sentence ? Of course not ! In parallel fashion, I have fiddled for so long and so often at the piano that “complex vertical harmonies” come out just as easily as single notes. Again, this is not a magic ability or a gift; it is the result of a lot of playing.

Vocabulary is not restricted to harmony. For any creator of  substance, all musical elements will be inextricably intertwined. This is a very simple fact which you can easily verify by playing the same keyboard pattern, chord, scale, whatever, in different rhythms and different dynamics. The variation in mental and emotional effect is very noticeable. I use the word “vocabulary” in the widest possible sense, meaning classes of sound which generate personal musical response of emotional or intellectual value.

But I fear all this discussion may make you think too much and play too little. Improvisation is a “doing” thing, not a “thinking” thing. There is a danger that if I waffle on too much I shall fail to impart the fact that it is a simple, personal, joyful, spontaneous, natural and fluent act. I don’t want to run that risk.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline claudio

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #24 on: November 26, 2004, 12:38:20 PM
hi ted,

thank you very much for your extensive replies. to boil it down, for me this
reads like: don't worry, start experimenting, lots of work  ;D

i believe, that julie391 was asking - at least my understanding - is, if you, during
your technical development, came across interesting patterns ("vocabulary") that you would like to share; any interesting harmonic structures, cord change, etc.?

are there any rules for composing (e.g. my teacher once told me that one
should not move into the same direction LH/RH)?
are there any rythmical patterns, that make a piece especially romantic, classical, etc.?
are there any patterns, that you invented for yourself (sounding esp. ted-like) and would like to share?

cheers, claudio

Offline ted

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #25 on: November 26, 2004, 09:20:34 PM
Oh dear, the further this discussion goes the more clearly I realise the limitations of the written word in explaining music.

No, Claudio, in the literal sense of the statement there are absolutely no rules in either composition or improvisation. What I suspect your teacher meant was that in certain very established, old-fashioned styles there are guidelines which, if followed, will provide a better chance of your result sounding like the style in question. At a guess the teacher was probably referring to the desirability of keeping a balance between parallel and contrary motion in writing with strands of single notes. This is not a rule, it is a guideline, and then only if you wish to imitate a certain style.

I have thousands and thousands of ideas. Some stay for years, some are forgotten the next day. Improvisational vocabulary is always growing and changing - it has to otherwise you wouldn't be creating anything. If you wish to develop your vocabulary it is not necessary for me to spend much time describing tiny elements of mine, and for you to spend hours working on them.

Just listen to all sorts of piano music, and other music for that matter. Even in the standard repertoire there's enough vocabulary to sink a ship. Look at what figurations the masters used and work out what is good about them and why they used these particular patterns instead of other ones.

Study the masters, old and new,  in the matter of detail, not second raters like me.

Okay, I guess if you want something specific try this exercise which I used to do with my teacher. Take a Chopin study, examine the guts of the figurations, the harmony, the rhythm, everything. Then improvise your own study using a selection of vocabulary in the original but adding new things of your own. You might use the physical pattern but change the chords, or use the chords but alter the rhythm.

Doing that sort of thing is quite a good take-off point, if you think you really need one.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline Maui

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #26 on: November 27, 2004, 01:03:22 AM
Very good explanations Ted, thank you.

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #27 on: November 27, 2004, 10:37:03 PM
bernhard, thanks for your thesis on improvisation in general - but what im specifically looking for ideas and methods on is pianistic improvisation

i have some ideas of my own, but i would like to hear some more input

another thing i wonder about - is it possible to improvise 2 seperate melodies or even improvise a fugue-like piece?

Yes, the books I suggested are filled with “ideas and methods on pianistic improvisation”. In fact, the last chapter in Gerre Hancock’s book specifically targets fugue improvisation.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: cziffra-esque improvisation
Reply #28 on: November 27, 2004, 10:40:09 PM
Oh dear, the further this discussion goes the more clearly I realise the limitations of the written word in explaining music.

No, Claudio, in the literal sense of the statement there are absolutely no rules in either composition or improvisation. What I suspect your teacher meant was that in certain very established, old-fashioned styles there are guidelines which, if followed, will provide a better chance of your result sounding like the style in question. At a guess the teacher was probably referring to the desirability of keeping a balance between parallel and contrary motion in writing with strands of single notes. This is not a rule, it is a guideline, and then only if you wish to imitate a certain style.

I have thousands and thousands of ideas. Some stay for years, some are forgotten the next day. Improvisational vocabulary is always growing and changing - it has to otherwise you wouldn't be creating anything. If you wish to develop your vocabulary it is not necessary for me to spend much time describing tiny elements of mine, and for you to spend hours working on them.

Just listen to all sorts of piano music, and other music for that matter. Even in the standard repertoire there's enough vocabulary to sink a ship. Look at what figurations the masters used and work out what is good about them and why they used these particular patterns instead of other ones.

Study the masters, old and new,  in the matter of detail, not second raters like me.

Okay, I guess if you want something specific try this exercise which I used to do with my teacher. Take a Chopin study, examine the guts of the figurations, the harmony, the rhythm, everything. Then improvise your own study using a selection of vocabulary in the original but adding new things of your own. You might use the physical pattern but change the chords, or use the chords but alter the rhythm.

Doing that sort of thing is quite a good take-off point, if you think you really need one.

Yes, Ted, great post, thank you, I was actually going to ask the same thing as Claudio :D

Your teacher's approach is very similar to my own. (At least in regards to scale improvisations), and I find that the secret is to have strong limitos to what you cando at the beginning (e.g. only use the notes of the scale), but as soon as you master the field within those limits to break the limits and expand your territory.

Thank again for a most enlightening post.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
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