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Have you listened to any of Gabriela Montero's improvisations? I myself haven't been able to appreciate a lot of improvisation, and like you, prefer the structure, depth, and sensible development of composed works. Montero has shown an incredible ability to improvise in contrapuntal Baroque and Classical styles, but it seems in the end, they all become jazzy and muddled, and I lose interest.

Worth a listen if you've never heard them though. There's too much to choose from on YouTube, but if you go to her website, she has a full concert performance on there where she does some Chopin and Ginastera, then dedicates the other half of her concert to improvisations based on tunes requested by the audience.


+1 - I saw GM here about a year ago and she followed this same format. I think part of the reason she takes requests is to eliminate any doubt that her improvisations are spontaneous (as well as to involve the audience and make it more enjoyable). Her performance was absolutely breath-taking. Its one thing to see her on YT or listen to her recordings. As a live performer she is other-worldly ! If you have a chance to see her, grab it !

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Originally Posted by izaldu
So i guess Gilels wouldn't mind playing a grand or an upright, since all he played was already written.


Good point. He probably wouldn't mind playing it on a spinet. It's not like the notes are going to change anytime soon, right? wink

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Originally Posted by BJones
[...] There are things I would play on a grand that I wouldn't on an upright because the sound just isn't there the same way. [...]
Those that only play what's on the written page, will not experience that effect, because there's no internal flow of music already occuring within the mind and ear of the player, the music starting only when the written music is viewed and the hands engaged to play it.


I respect your right to voicing your opinion, but it seems to me that making a generalization applying to all classical pianists based on your own personal experience and taste is quite false. How do you know that classical musicians do not experience any "internal flow of music within the mind and ear...."?

Regards,


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Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by BJones

Instant composing, the highest form of improvisation
I am curious about this statement. To be blunt, I have always found improvisation to be insipid and inane because it lacks the richness and complexity that results from deep thought and planning. I perceive it as egocentric so it just doesn't touch me. I'd like to remain openminded so please elaborate on why you feel this way.

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(improvisation) requires that the sound itself reinforce the flow from within. Without that reinforcement, the choices will be different.
Those that only play what's on the written page, will not experience that effect, because there's no internal flow of music already occuring within the mind and ear of the player, the music starting only when the written music is viewed and the hands engaged to play it.


At first, this statement made me bristle, but once again I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have not expressed your opinion clearly. I do indeed commune with the sound the rises from my piano and experience an almost spiritual integration of what I feel, think and hear. True, I am not creating the sequence of notes, but I am creating a personal interpretation and am attempting to make my music worthy of the esteemed master who wrote it. So once again, please elaborate.


Speaking for myself, I hear music constantly. What I hear is inspired from the sounds that are around me, and intermingle with the music that has been engrained from decades of intense listening.
I could be sitting upstairs and hear a commercial with a jingle on the TV in the distance, on another floor, and just a piece of that jingle may interact from what I already hear.
As I'm writing this, I'm "listening" to a variation of a Parker solo on Ornithology, playing over Coltrane's "Giant Steps" third chorus, why?, because I momentarily thought of it and now my variations on those melodies is playing itself out in my head as real as if I had two recordings playing simultaneously.
Now, at anypoint, I can audibly join that flow, the stream of music that already exists for me alone.
I can sit at the piano and join it at any point, accompanying it, adding to it, or play exactly what it is I'm hearing, but if the sound I am producing does not meet my expectations of what I would like to hear sonically, the sound I produce will not be as effective or enjoyable for me when I join or interact with that flow.
My second sound file is an improvisation based on Bartok's Music for strings, the 89 bar movement based entirely on the Fibonacci series 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89.
I was hearing proportionally spaced motivic material from that piece over a Tristano-like doubled bas line, two separate bass lines each with their own separate dynamic profile, metricaly positioned 1/2 beat away from each other, a very difficult thing to do at that tempo if you try it yourself, yet I heard it and have the technical means to do so, while improvising on the motifs and implied rapidly changing harmonic centers that the motifs present.

Could I play it again, the same way? yes. If I listen to it several times with that goal in mind, but I wouldn't want to play it again the same way again, and may never use that type of doubled, dynamically contrapuntal bass line in the same way again because that flow may never again occur in my mind.

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Originally Posted by BJones
Originally Posted by izaldu
So i guess Gilels wouldn't mind playing a grand or an upright, since all he played was already written.


Good point. He probably wouldn't mind playing it on a spinet. It's not like the notes are going to change anytime soon, right? wink


I assume you must be joking?

What's the point in endlessly putting down classical music and trying to convince people on a mostly classical music forum that jazz is superior?

Do you think insulting people's tastes is the best way to convince people of anything?

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Boy did this thread go off track! ;-)


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by BJones
Originally Posted by izaldu
So i guess Gilels wouldn't mind playing a grand or an upright, since all he played was already written.


Good point. He probably wouldn't mind playing it on a spinet. It's not like the notes are going to change anytime soon, right? wink


I assume you must be joking?

What's the point in endlessly putting down classical music and trying to convince people on a mostly classical music forum that jazz is superior?

Do you think insulting people's tastes is the best way to convince people of anything?


When did I do that? I maintianed that with classical music, most of which I do enjoy and draw inspiration from, both theoretical and in the sense of elegance, you listen with a complete sense of deja-vu. Very subtle interpretational changes with the material always the same and in the same order, vs. jazz, where each performance of even the same tune by the same improvisor may be entirely different referring to actual content.

You're a feisty one, you! wink

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Thanks Rachel for your little exercise on scales prac and increasing one note for every beat. I've never played them like that. Interesting. I watched your video of Appassionata as well.. very impressive. Maybe you could post recordings of the complete Chopin etudes op. 10? I'd love to hear them.

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With an upright there are several big problems that will severely limit your ability to practice effectively:
1. Pedal mechanism moves horizontally, so when pushing the pedal down you cannot feel when the dampers leave the strings. On a grand you are able to "ghost pedal", and control the degree of pedal while you cannot do the same on an upright.

2. Una corda pedal on uprights are fake, and push hammers closer to strings. Combining this with the already compromised action of the upright creates a very very uncomfortably light touch and very difficult control over tone.

3. Upright actions have trouble repeating notes. Not only do they not produce a sound on a fast repeat, but your finger feels no resistance as the key goes down.

4. Uprights are generally much more difficult to work with in terms of tone and nuance, due to the compromised action.

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Originally Posted by trigalg693

2. Una corda pedal on uprights are fake, and push hammers closer to strings. Combining this with the already compromised action of the upright creates a very very uncomfortably light touch and very difficult control over tone.



Interesting we touched on this, But by moving the hammers closer, the articulatory/escapement lag-time is cut down considerably, and the use of this pedal, decreasing lag time, facilitates incredible key velocity beyond the capability of playing at that speed on a grand if you are capable of extreme velocity!

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Originally Posted by trigalg693
4. Uprights are generally much more difficult to work with in terms of tone and nuance, due to the compromised action.


here I disagree. With a much narrower spectrum of tone and resonance, especially in the lower octaves, the acoustical properties of the piano itself, not the action, is the main culprit here.

Acoustically, an upright to a grand is like a banjo to an acoustic guitar, although loathe I am to even mention the words guitar and banjo without projectile vomiting, Feh! sick

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Originally Posted by gooddog
Mark, I still stand by my statement but only because I have never heard any improvisation that I thought could be compared to a classical composition. I respect the fact that the musician is taking a risk when he or she improvises, but in my experience, I have felt like I am hearing diluted and sometimes directionless music which I just don't enjoy or appreciate. I feel that composed classical music has tremendous depth which improv lacks.

I'm trying to keep an open mind and would be delighted to be proven wrong.


Deborah, the only impressive improvisation I've heard was by Cyprien Katsaris at a recital he gave in NY last spring. As an encore, he did a very good job of spontaneously creating a fantasy on a couple of Strauss waltzes (sort of in the vein of Schutz-Evler's famous Blue Danube paraphrase). I suppose some people might say that such compositions are diluted and directionless even when they are written on paper... But as I listened to him play it, I was excitedly trying to figure out what piece it was, and I suspected but wasn't sure that he was improvising until I asked him after the concert.

But of course, I'm with you in the long run on carefully composed music vs. improv - that's why I'm a poster in the classical forum smile

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Originally Posted by MarkH
Originally Posted by gooddog
Mark, I still stand by my statement but only because I have never heard any improvisation that I thought could be compared to a classical composition. I respect the fact that the musician is taking a risk when he or she improvises, but in my experience, I have felt like I am hearing diluted and sometimes directionless music which I just don't enjoy or appreciate. I feel that composed classical music has tremendous depth which improv lacks.

I'm trying to keep an open mind and would be delighted to be proven wrong.


Deborah, the only impressive improvisation I've heard was by Cyprien Katsaris at a recital he gave in NY last spring. As an encore, he did a very good job of spontaneously creating a fantasy on a couple of Strauss waltzes (sort of in the vein of Schutz-Evler's famous Blue Danube paraphrase). I suppose some people might say that such compositions are diluted and directionless even when they are written on paper... But as I listened to him play it, I was excitedly trying to figure out what piece it was, and I suspected but wasn't sure that he was improvising until I asked him after the concert.

But of course, I'm with you in the long run on carefully composed music vs. improv - that's why I'm a poster in the classical forum smile


I'll wager you haven't heard improvisations by Keith Jarrett, Eldar, Lennie Tristano, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Martial Solal, Jaki Byard, McCoy Tyner, Gordon Beck, John Costa, Chick Corea, Borah Bergmann, Connie Crothers, Liz Gorill, etc., etc.

You should familiarize yourself with some of these so at least you'll have a comparative frame of reference before formulating a general opinion based on nothing. thumb

Here's a completely improvised performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzqMJWlKMsY

Another:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hynfz68OXmY

And one more for good measure:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLCGWh-VZhI

All completely improvised

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Originally Posted by BJones
Originally Posted by izaldu
So i guess Gilels wouldn't mind playing a grand or an upright, since all he played was already written.


Good point. He probably wouldn't mind playing it on a spinet. It's not like the notes are going to change anytime soon, right? wink


According to your reasoning, he wouldn't.

Maybe i'm just dumb and some of the stuff you say is just out of my intellectual reach. I guess that must be it. But then, my guess is probably wrong, as i'm dumb.

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Originally Posted by BJones
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by BJones
Originally Posted by izaldu
So i guess Gilels wouldn't mind playing a grand or an upright, since all he played was already written.


Good point. He probably wouldn't mind playing it on a spinet. It's not like the notes are going to change anytime soon, right? wink


I assume you must be joking?

What's the point in endlessly putting down classical music and trying to convince people on a mostly classical music forum that jazz is superior?

Do you think insulting people's tastes is the best way to convince people of anything?


When did I do that? I maintianed that with classical music, most of which I do enjoy and draw inspiration from, both theoretical and in the sense of elegance, you listen with a complete sense of deja-vu. Very subtle interpretational changes with the material always the same and in the same order, vs. jazz, where each performance of even the same tune by the same improvisor may be entirely different referring to actual content.

You're a feisty one, you! wink


I wasn't just refering to this single post I quoted but many, many posts at PW where you've expressed an opinion that jazz is superior to classical and often done so in a far from diplomatic way.

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Originally Posted by BJones
I'll wager you haven't heard improvisations by Keith Jarrett, Eldar, Lennie Tristano, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Martial Solal, Jaki Byard, McCoy Tyner, Gordon Beck, John Costa, Chick Corea, Borah Bergmann, Connie Crothers, Liz Gorill, etc., etc.

You should familiarize yourself with some of these so at least you'll have a comparative frame of reference before formulating a general opinion based on nothing. thumb


What's the point in endlessly putting down classical music, trying to convince people on a mostly classical music forum that jazz is superior and then denying you make posts like this?

Do you think insulting people's tastes is the best way to convince people of anything?

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In particular settings, I find an upright piano better. For me sound, and nothing else - including action, is all that matters. That being the case, it goes without saying I like a quality grand in most situations! laugh


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim
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Originally Posted by LeOniuS
Thanks Rachel for your little exercise on scales prac and increasing one note for every beat. I've never played them like that. Interesting. I watched your video of Appassionata as well.. very impressive. Maybe you could post recordings of the complete Chopin etudes op. 10? I'd love to hear them.


Thank you, LeOniuS! I wish I had recorded Op. 10 back when I performed them. Unfortunately I didn't! Maybe one day I'll take the plunge and relearn them, though I'm not anxious to revisit number 2. crazy


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Originally Posted by BJones

I'll wager you haven't heard improvisations by Keith Jarrett, Eldar, Lennie Tristano, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Martial Solal, Jaki Byard, McCoy Tyner, Gordon Beck, John Costa, Chick Corea, Borah Bergmann, Connie Crothers, Liz Gorill, etc., etc.

You should familiarize yourself with some of these so at least you'll have a comparative frame of reference before formulating a general opinion based on nothing. thumb

Here's a completely improvised performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzqMJWlKMsY

Another:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hynfz68OXmY

And one more for good measure:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLCGWh-VZhI

All completely improvised


Your wager is quite safe in that bet! Thank you for the links. It's a completely different idiom, so I HAVE listened to a couple of these sorts of performances over the years and they didn't really sink in, but I like regularly re-challenging myself. Keep in mind though that my general opinion based on very little exposure is that improv has the potential to be really impressive smile

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Originally Posted by Rachel J
Originally Posted by LeOniuS
Thanks Rachel for your little exercise on scales prac and increasing one note for every beat. I've never played them like that. Interesting. I watched your video of Appassionata as well.. very impressive. Maybe you could post recordings of the complete Chopin etudes op. 10? I'd love to hear them.


Thank you, LeOniuS! I wish I had recorded Op. 10 back when I performed them. Unfortunately I didn't! Maybe one day I'll take the plunge and relearn them, though I'm not anxious to revisit number 2. crazy


Haha.. I'm learning 10/12 atm (along with prelude no 3. in G major which is a scary little number in itself), its fairly good - but I somehow wonder is there ever an end to slow, methodical practice? Even though I thought I was getting it down pat I'm sorta realising when I take away the cover of heaps of pedal I've been cutting corners and missing notes, so I've gone back to slow, no pedal practice and nailing each note. Seems like I'm going backwards but I guess I have to realise that in the long run I'm going forwards. As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing properly.

On that note of 10/2 I've just printed the first page cause I wanted something to practice for RH but having looked through a few threads here and there and researching it a bit.. there is a huge opinion that 10/2 is THE hardest etude to master. I'm thinking I could probably learn it, but master it? I heard even Horowitz couldn't do it. So though I believe strongly in my talent (I've been playing for almost 3 years) I'm sorta wondering if it's even possible. I printed the first page of 10/1 and practiced it for 2 or 3 days before I dumped it wisely .. I'm wondering if 10/2 will go the same road. The challenges are probably just as great but different. ie. massive arpeggios vs chromatic scales with 3,4 and 5. I also haven't discussed it yet with my teacher, but that will come. Any tips on this one?

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