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Joined: Jan 2021
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Meap6 Offline OP
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Seeing the diverse challenges around this forum, I find it a little sad there is nothing for improvisation, so I'm trying to come up with something.
Here are my ideas so far.

Let's call it Improving Improvisers, or Improv² for short.

What is it ?
A piano improvisation challenge where challengers are given some short themes (notes + rythms) to use as basis, and then submit recordings.
As we all start with the same material, it will be very interesting to see how we each develop our ideas around it. Classical? Jazz? Whatever works for you !
The idea is to keep it accessible to all levels.

I think that giving only themes, and no chords/suggested harmony will result in the most diverse and interesting results.
People can suggest themes to use and we can e.g. randomly pick 3 every month for people to play around with.
Another way to manage it would be to keep a document or post with all the themes, numbered, and then people can pick from the list and post their submissions, indicating the theme number with their recordings.



What rules ?
Even though I want to keep everything as free as possible, some guidelines are good to avoid total chaos.

1- The submitted themes should be kept short and clean. Imagine you're writing a short phrase for the flute or something. Let's keep it under 1-2 lines of staves.
2- Don't be scared, and have fun! We all start from somewhere.

That's it.

Some optional guidelines :

- Playing the "bare bones" theme at the start of improv recordings is appreciated, it gives the listener's ear something to search for in the following music.
- You're free to transform the theme (play it upside down, introduce alterations, focus on its rythm rather than notes, etc.)
- Try and record multiple ideas on a single theme -- you don't have to post them all (but you can!)




How to share themes ?

This will be the annoying part, given the forum is text-based (+ images can be difficult to post and unreliable if hosted on 3rd party websites).

I was thinking maybe giving some basic lilypond music code, and using the online editor http://lilybin.com/ to get a quick preview of the themes (hit 'preview' or ctrl+enter to compile).

For simple themes, there's no need to know too much lilypond notation, and the basics are fairly intuitive (see here for a quick tuto http://lilypond.org/text-input.html )
The basic structure of the lilypond score is already given when you open editor (I added the couple notes):
Quote
% LilyBin
\score{
{
c' d' e' f'8 fis' g'2 b c'1
}


\layout{}
\midi{}
}

which outputs the following:
[Linked Image]


We can use \relative c' to avoid putting " ' " everywhere:
Quote
% LilyBin
\score{
\relative c'{
c d e f8 fis g2 b, c1
}


\layout{}
\midi{}
}

And for simplicity's sake, I think we only need to share the central part, where the music is written so that one can easily cp/paste it to the online editor (or even just the notes, if everyone is clear about the "\relative c'{" part) :
Quote
\relative c'{
c d e f8 fis g2 b, c1
}

From the editor, it's then possible to download a MIDI or pdf file of the theme.


Please do give your thoughts and ideas on the challenge.
I think this could really be a nice way to have people get into improv' !


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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Originally Posted by Meap6
Seeing the diverse challenges around this forum, I find it a little sad there is nothing for improvisation,
???????????????????????????????????????????

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Meap6 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Meap6
Seeing the diverse challenges around this forum, I find it a little sad there is nothing for improvisation,
???????????????????????????????????????????

I mean as an organized challenge/event (like the recitals, the 40 pieces a year, or the MOYD)
I know there are a lot of questions/discussions on the topic.


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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An improvisation challenge, that's a good idea but using Lilypond ? Hmm... Who want to learn a programming language ?

Maybe you can write the lick in Lilypond and publish the sheet music and we can try to improvise from that theme.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

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Meap6 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Serge88
An improvisation challenge, that's a good idea but using Lilypond ? Hmm... Who want to learn a programming language ?

Maybe you can write the lick in Lilypond and publish the sheet music and we can try to improvise from that theme.

That could work as well, but I can't come up with all the themes for improvisation !

There is no need to learn Lilypond if you want to participate, you just need to know how to copy/paste grin (see below)
If you want to submit a theme, then you have to know your ABCs and 1,2,4,8,16. But even then, if someone can't do it, I'll be happy to transcribe it from a picture sent in PM or something.

I'm just trying to find a way of sharing themes without relying on external tools/sites for storage, so that all the info is on the forum, and so people can easily preview the themes.

Even if I do the publishing of pdfs, as you mention, how do people send themes ? and where do I keep the pdfs for easy access ? I'd like people to be able to run this challenge as independently as possible.


I think everyone capable of using a computer should be able to do the following:
1- go to http://lilybin.com/
2- paste the following block replacing the "{ c' }" in the editor
Quote
\relative c'{
c d e f8 fis g2 b, c1
}
3- hit "preview" (or ctrl+enter)


I suppose I could also keep a single sheet music with all the themes on a drive or something, and just update it as people send me their submissions.

In any case, thank you for the feedback!


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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Anyway I will give a try.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

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Meap6 Offline OP
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I've tinkered around with lilypond and I think I the pdf with the full theme bank is a good option to give the themes to challengers.

Here's an example

I'll update that file with everyone's submissions each time we launch another run.
We can just say "this time, we're focusing on themes 12-15" or something like that. People would still be able to use the older themes if they like.

For theme submission, though I'll prefer lilypond code, I can take anything sent to me and transcribe it (as long as I can still figure it out from the given material :P )


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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Sounds awfully complicated to me. Why not just say "improvise on (fill in the blank)." i.e. Mary had a little lamb, Silent Night, Happy Birthday etc. or "improvise on (put in a series of notes). "

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Meap6 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Peyton
Sounds awfully complicated to me. Why not just say "improvise on (fill in the blank)." i.e. Mary had a little lamb, Silent Night, Happy Birthday etc.

As I mentioned in my first post, I think that giving the barest possible theme, with no harmony, will lead to more diverse and interesting results.

Improvising on existing tunes like the 3 you listed is fine, but we are bound to be influenced by the underlying harmony. It's a different perspective to improvisation I suppose.
We're also bound to run out of such tunes at some point.

Originally Posted by Peyton
or "improvise on (put in a series of notes). "

Could you elaborate on that ? How do you write your series of notes? Assuming you mean something like "C C D E C E D C...", How does one know if e.g the second "C" is the same octave or not ?


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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Originally Posted by Meap6
Could you elaborate on that ? How do you write your series of notes? Assuming you mean something like "C C D E C E D C...", How does one know if e.g the second "C" is the same octave or not ?

I guess you covered it in this

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I don't truly get it but I am in!

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Meap6 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Peyton
Originally Posted by Meap6
Could you elaborate on that ? How do you write your series of notes? Assuming you mean something like "C C D E C E D C...", How does one know if e.g the second "C" is the same octave or not ?

I guess you covered it in this

Ah, so then you don't find this approach of having the pdf theme bank too complicated then ? I misunderstood your first post.

The challenge remains for submitting themes for the next sessions, but I suppose we'll find a way.


Anyways, I don't know what would be appropriate for a schedule for this challenge. Would updates to the theme list every 2 weeks, or every month be alright?
People could post their improvisations on any theme in the meanwhile.


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)
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Originally Posted by Flygbladet
I don't truly get it but I am in!

Cool thanks for the interest in the challenge !

I'll create a dedicated thread when I launch it, explaining the "rules".
In the meantime, if you have theme suggestions, feel free to PM me or put them in this thread, so we have a base to start off with.


Kawai CA79 (Jan 2021), Casio Privia PX-870 (Jun 2017)

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