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Lowell Liebermann's Personal Demons
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Topic: Improving / learning improvisation in Baroque pieces  (Read 444 times)

Offline 1piano4joe

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Hi all,

I am a neophyte when it comes to this. Any tips on how to do this? Right now I just listen to YouTube, SheetMusicPlus videos as they tend to play repeats fancifully and in good taste. I then try to, by ear, incorporate these embelliishments.

I find that I need to know a piece exceedingly well when I do this spontaneously. And while I can do this, often my results don't seem appropriate.

For example, I have tried flatting 3rds,5ths and 7ths in my improvs. Nope, just sounds wrong.

IMO, less is more in terms of a performance, but for learning and experimenting, I figure why not just go for it!

When I say "less", I am referring to not only the frequency but as to overkill as well. Who was it who said, "Too Many Notes". Sometimes a mordent just sounds better than a turn.

I have found dotted rhythms also can sound funky. I have heard the last chord often arpeggiated which sounds alright to me but read in Busoni, "Such effeminacies are to be avoided". I guess my ear isn't so "period" appropriate.

I tend to improvise the right hand more so. Is that stylistically correct?

I was having a lot of fun with this the other day. I think I just got carried away. I was playing, "Minuet in Eb, H171" by C.P.E. Bach. This is such a beautiful piece.

It may only be a RCM Grade 2 List A repertoire piece but it's not so easy to play. But then again, it is a Bach piece. At least the fingering seems straightforward.

I think the more pieces with 3rds I study, the better I will get at them. I know from other pieces that I can manage these only so fast.

"Dance" Op. 27, no. 27 by Dmitri Kabalevsky comes to mind. The form of this piece is AA'BA with 3 "interludes". And with "a little knowledge being a dangerous thing" I proceeded to learn the difficult sections first.

Man oh man, was I ever so wrong. What I perceived to be the easiest section turned out to be the hardest. The "B" section starting at measure 25 had me completely fooled. A simple, one octave, descending G minor scale in the right hand against some left hand 3rds had me thinking no sweat. I should have known better with this being a RCM Grade 7 Etude in staccato 3rds.

Thanks in advance, Joe.

Online brogers70

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Re: Improving / learning improvisation in Baroque pieces
Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 05:31:58 PM
John Mortensen has a series of videos, and I think a book, already published or in the works, on how to learn improvisation in the Baroque or Classical style. Here is a link to one of his videos; from there you could find others if it seems like what you are looking for.


Offline ranjit

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Re: Improving / learning improvisation in Baroque pieces
Reply #2 on: March 01, 2021, 09:02:24 PM
I second John Mortensen. There's been a revival in interest in partimento lately, which is a system which was used for improvisation during the Baroque period -- you might want to check out some books related to it as well.

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