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How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
#2902251 10/20/19 09:28 AM
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I've waited long before I could finally choose a Handel piece!

I choose HWV 434

However, after listening to just two version I've already noticed massive differences in the way it's performed. So I wonder how free I will be myself, since the sheet self doesn't show much more than the specific chord used. So it's quite easy to improvise on.

This one by Schiff



And this one completely different by Scipione Sangiovann


Last edited by hyena; 10/20/19 09:31 AM.
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Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
hyena #2902260 10/20/19 10:04 AM
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They are not improvising, they are playing according to the way a baroque piece was played. Block chords are usually arppegiated even when it is not notated. The difference between them is essentially in the way they bring forward different voices within the chord. The second one, to be honnest is stretching the approach a bit far for me. To do this imply a very good knowledge of the baroque interpretation and usage as well as an understanding of the harmonic and melodic flow of the piece; and technically a thorough control of your fingers to choose how to emphasize which notes. As simple as it appears, this piece is in fact extremely difficult to play well.

So to answer your question, no you are not expected to improvise but to interpret musically, as much as possible according to the baroque standards (if remaining faithfull to the spirit of the composer is your objective).

Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
hyena #2902264 10/20/19 10:27 AM
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If you mean how free you should be to satisfy your teacher, you'd better ask your teacher. Teachers usually don't like much freedom in interpretation.

Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
hyena #2902273 10/20/19 10:48 AM
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I think you are free to do as you wish. I do feel that the 2nd one adds a melody that isn't there, but certainly the Handel police aren't going to show up at your door and demand you cease and desist LOL

Some suggestions I'd give are to think of the many different ways the chords could be arpeggiated. You can certainly do from the bottom to top or top to bottom (lh to rh), or simultaneous arp in both hands either up or down, or inside notes out/outside notes in, etc.

What may help you decide how is to determine which note is going to be most important. You can do this by playing only the top note of the RH by itself and hear the melody it creates. Then you can go through and select different notes of the chord to play. The top note will be the easiest to bring out, but sometimes getting an inner voice to come out is interesting too. Then try arpeggiating while voicing the top notes or the other notes you've chosen.

Also remember the speed of you arpeggiation does not have to be the same - some you may want to roll slower for emphasis, or roll starting slow and then end in a flourish, or start fast and end delaying the top note. There's really so many options, it just takes some experimentation on your part to decide what you feel works best. smile


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Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
Morodiene #2902298 10/20/19 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I think you are free to do as you wish.


I would kindly disagree with that statement. In the absolute, of course anybody can play anything the way he likes, but then learning to play music, classical in particular, is also about learning the different styles. One can play Bach as if he was a romantic composer, and some have successfully done so, but then I truly believe his music as well as Haendel is better off played according to the way it was designed. Liberty to play as one wish should come with the knowledge that supports it and a deep musical sense of what is working or not, developed with years of experience. I think that is also what makes music learning interesting, besides just hitting pieces of wood with fingers.

For example chords in baroque that are placed on half notes were usually arpegiatted twice when possible, usually down up and down again (to be adjusted on the piano depending if one is using pedal or not, amount of reverberation in the room and other factors). When split between 2 hands, they are played in sequence or together depending on their harmonic content. But I do not wish to disturb this thread, so this is just my conservative view of the question.

Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
Sidokar #2902319 10/20/19 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I think you are free to do as you wish.


I would kindly disagree with that statement. In the absolute, of course anybody can play anything the way he likes, but then learning to play music, classical in particular, is also about learning the different styles. One can play Bach as if he was a romantic composer, and some have successfully done so, but then I truly believe his music as well as Haendel is better off played according to the way it was designed. Liberty to play as one wish should come with the knowledge that supports it and a deep musical sense of what is working or not, developed with years of experience. I think that is also what makes music learning interesting, besides just hitting pieces of wood with fingers.

For example chords in baroque that are placed on half notes were usually arpegiatted twice when possible, usually down up and down again (to be adjusted on the piano depending if one is using pedal or not, amount of reverberation in the room and other factors). When split between 2 hands, they are played in sequence or together depending on their harmonic content. But I do not wish to disturb this thread, so this is just my conservative view of the question.

Alright, so you have your view, and I have mine. Although I can back mine with writings about music from the time, like you, I do not wish to derail this thread.

Let's just leave it at the fact that there are different camps of thought on this, and the OP is free to investigate further - an endeavor I think that is worthwhile for each musician to do and to formulate their own opinions.

Last edited by Morodiene; 10/20/19 12:51 PM.

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Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
hyena #2902409 10/20/19 03:37 PM
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If you wish to play in the most historically accurate way, you will need a period instrument and you might need to do scholarly research to shape your interpretation.

As for me personally, I think you can play it however you want.


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Re: How free am I to improvise in this Handel piece?
hyena #2902609 10/21/19 05:57 AM
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Thanks a lot for the replies!

I will discuss with my teacher soon indeed, I guess first goal would be to simply learn all the chords and tension points!


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