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  1. #1

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    Classical improvisation is all the rage ATM!

    I'm jumping on the bandwagon, and posting this here, so Jonah can tell me how crap it is


    But I would love it if this became a thing; people posting their attempts to improvise in a Baroque or Gallant (Classical) style.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I see there is an old thread
    Adventures in classical improvisation

  4. #3

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    I'd jump in if I had any idea what any of those words meant

    Really enjoyable playing though. I might be feeling another "wanting to play a lot of nylon string" phase bubbling up in my mind.

  5. #4

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    Far from sucking, I found your exercise to be strangely calming. I find myself soothed. My sincerest thanks!

    That said, nineteen minutes of this sort of thing might be a tad much*; not having been alive when this musick was contemporary (and almost certainly if I had been alive I would have been too impoverished to be within earshot of same**), I know not how the intended audience would take it; I'm thinking they would likely eat it up for hours on end, as long as the sherry/port/brandy held out. Most diverting, Sir, most diverting!

    * This from the perspective of a 21st Century Schizoid Man; Baroquers undoubtedly had less finicky attention spans.

    ** Unless, of course, I were lucky enough to be third footman, or somesuch.***

    *** I found Gosford Park to be personally transformative.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 03-09-2021 at 03:27 PM. Reason: semicolon

  6. #5

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    At first sight, it seems so easy, but then you realise you have to play both staves at the same time.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Far from sucking, I found your exercise to be strangely calming. I find myself soothed. My sincerest thanks!

    That said, nineteen minutes of this sort of thing might be a tad much*; not having been alive when this musick was contemporary (and almost certainly if I had been alive I would have been too impoverished to be within earshot of same**), I know not how the intended audience would take it; I'm thinking they would likely eat it up for hours on end, as long as the sherry/port/brandy held out. Most diverting, Sir, most diverting!

    * This from the perspective of a 21st Century Schizoid Man; Baroquers undoubtedly had less finicky attention spans.

    ** Unless, of course, I were lucky enough to be third footman, or somesuch.***

    *** I found Gosford Park to be personally transformative.
    I think they mostly chatted through it.

    Baroque music and jazz are truly akin.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    At first sight, it seems so easy, but then you realise you have to play both staves at the same time.
    Haha yeah.

    I figured if just put bass clef guitarists would moan. Really they expect tab ....

  9. #8

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    Good for you, Christian. One of the hardest things for modern ears is playing in an earlier period style. It's fairly straight forward to doodle around a bass line or chord sequence, but doing it so that you can be expressive AND be stylistically appropriate for the period, is a difficult thing to achieve.

    I was banging on about this in classical-guitar circles some twenty years ago, and everyone - I mean EVERYONE - ignored me. See my stuff on this page page, including a pdf essay on improv in the 19th century: 19th Century | rmclassicalguitar

    I liked to improvise introductions and also little cadenzas usually about three quarters of the way through a piece, before the recapitulation. As in this video of a piece by Giuliani:



    Your bass and treble clef is more baroque, of course. I used to play continuo on theorbo and archlute (not at the same time!) in baroque ensembles, and would improvise from the bass line up, but I would not have found work if I had included the treble line, as that is for the singer or flute player, etc. Your job was to improvise an accompaniment, not a complete solo piece, as you seem to be attempting here.

    Check out the Horetsky Preludes and Cadences, Page 5: https://rmclassicalguitar.files.word...kycadences.pdf - the equivalent of 12-bar blues chord sequences or 251s that students would be expected to improvise with.

  10. #9

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    Thanks Rob; that’s super hip what you play in the Giuliani, stylish yet free.

    You are right that what I aiming for here is not continuo (though I think it is quite easy to get stuck playing things that sound like accompaniment parts) but trying to play more complete ground bass variations inspired by the likes of Kellner and Weiss et al who I imagine could have spun out a mesmerising extemporaneous set of ground bass variations with absolutely no effort. I imagine some of their pieces are simply written out improvisations.

    That link looks great for textural ideas at first glance. I’m sure there’s more there too.

    Compared to keyboardists there seem to be as yet relatively few guitarists attempting classical improv (unless I am missing them for some reason) on YouTube. I imagine you might know this fella; but I wish he’d post more! I need improvisers to transcribe as well as pieces to study.


  11. #10

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    Christian, you need to get the books by Peter Croton such as 'Figured Bass on the Classical Guitar' and 'Performing Baroque Music on Classical Guitar'. His approach is both cerebral and practical. He also plays archtop, evidenced by the cover of one of his CDs.

  12. #11

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    i assume you guys are familiar with this. imo ted greene was a genius like bird or bach. i get such a kick out of this.

    and check out his explanation of the progress. he learned this stuff by habituation. "100 little things" he says. like any musical style should be learned. inductive vs deductive learning, my hobbyhorse for many years, to the annoyment of many posters here. licks and tricks. eat that, naysayers


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Christian, you need to get the books by Peter Croton such as 'Figured Bass on the Classical Guitar' and 'Performing Baroque Music on Classical Guitar'. His approach is both cerebral and practical. He also plays archtop, evidenced by the cover of one of his CDs.
    Thanks for the recommendations.

    I would like a book entitled 'Performing Baroque Music on a Fender Telecaster' but that might be a little too niche for music publishing to support.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg
    i assume you guys are familiar with this. imo ted greene was a genius like bird or bach. i get such a kick out of this.

    and check out his explanation of the progress. he learned this stuff by habituation. "100 little things" he says. like any musical style should be learned. inductive vs deductive learning, my hobbyhorse for many years, to the annoyment of many posters here. licks and tricks. eat that, naysayers

    '100 little things' could be the perfect description of the Partimento approach. You learn a whole heap of practical situations, for example:
    - basses moving by step
    - basses moving by fourths
    - basses moving by thirds
    - common cadences

    And so on. Then the Partimenti give you basses to make pieces out of, Robert Gjerdingen IIRC compares them to lead sheets.

    You start off with figures, but they are more like training wheels.

    There is no music theory. Just specifics and lots of practice.

    I understand the scholarship suggests while Partimento is more associated with the Italian composers, a variant of this is indeed the sort of way Bach learned counterpoint. It is also the undoubtedly the way Bird learned to play. So ... yeah?

    You could argue that as Ted had no-one AFAIK teaching him this stuff, it's almost more amazing. But, I doubt that the masters in the old conservatoires would have done that much direct pedagogy. It was a traditional apprenticeship; a way of learning that has cropped up in every corner of the world is undoubtedly extremely ancient.

    If you are interested in this sort of thing in general, read Lave & Wenger's Situated Learning, definitive text on apprenticeships. Doesn't discuss music, but the processes the same for tailors, meat cutters etc. Music is another trade.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Christian, you need to get the books by Peter Croton such as 'Figured Bass on the Classical Guitar' and 'Performing Baroque Music on Classical Guitar'. His approach is both cerebral and practical. He also plays archtop, evidenced by the cover of one of his CDs.
    I searched for the second title on Music Room but saw your Bach for Uke book and I am 100% getting that for the missus.

    EDIT: Oh we can play duets. Even better. You wonderful man, you.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I would like a book entitled 'Performing Baroque Music on a Fender Telecaster' but that might be a little too niche for music publishing to support.
    well there’s this:

    TedGreene.com - Teachings - Baroque

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Oh very nice. Best thing about Ted's materials is they come with the little pictures.


  18. #17

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    To be honest I probably won't use Ted's resources though, great though they look, just because I'm finding it easier to read from original baroque figures. It makes sense to improve my reading of actual baroque continuo parts and so on rather than a version translated into jazz guitar.

    Chord symbols get complicated very fast. Lots of slashes... So, a simple rule of the octave is this

    D A/C# E7/B A A7/G D/F# A7/E D

    Whereas in figures its a couple of numbers. And then later in my video, I use this variant:

    D E7/D A/C# D/C# Esus4/B E/B etc

    Starts to make my eyes bleed, don't know about you.

    Figured bass makes it a lot more elegant. Also, 6 3 chords just behave differently from 5 3 and so on, even though they are all regraded as inversions of a triad. As Peter Bernstein puts it 'not all inversions are the same; if you mean to play root position, play root position'. Chord symbols reduce everything to theoretic bass, which I find a bit extra (as the kids say) these days.

    Looking at Ted's material I'm reminded of a Fenroli's etc Regole translated into modern guitar language. It's really interesting; he sort of reversed engineered it. What an amazing fella. He obviously just went about it the same way as older musicians learned jazz, which is pretty close to how it was taught back then because he didn't know any 'better' - like Wes with his octaves (100 years of German style theoretical analysis had killed that practical appraoch for most classical musicians)

    Now I could make some pointed comments about jazz theory and so on .. DJG?
    Last edited by christianm77; 03-10-2021 at 09:31 AM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Now I could make some pointed comments about jazz theory and so on .. DJG?
    i'm in a far too good mood today, tyvm

  20. #19

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    Something here for you, Christian:



    He also has more on improvising using pitch classes from Elliot Carter's music:


  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Something here for you, Christian:



    He also has more on improvising using pitch classes from Elliot Carter's music:

    Hey thanks. I remember you posting this before and I was about to ask you for the link again

  22. #21

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    It
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Something here for you, Christian:



    He also has more on improvising using pitch classes from Elliot Carter's music:

    OK so in this case the harmonic structure becomes the basis of the improvisation (the lead sheet if you will): cool. Solo or contrafact on changes, essentially.

    I actually did the same sort of reduction for another Bach prelude. Seemed an obvious thing to do actually. Some preludes seem better suited to this than others, but that might be my lack of experience with using different textures for realisation.

    I’m wondering if it’s not also an idea to take careful note of the voices in the top of the texture as the basis of a new melody? In this case the improvisation becomes a bit less free and more constrained here, compared to typical blowing on jazz changes, although maybe not for jazz improvisation practice activities.

    Bach really liked that G G7 C/G D7/G thing in preludes (sorry for the chord symbols) didn’t he? (Gjerdingen’s calls it a ‘Quiescenza.’)

    I liked that he touched on the construction of Bach’s bass.

    I think in the Partimenti (that I’ve done so far), the bass is generally taken as read, but actually they are ingenious and amazing things in their own right and it strikes me that you could know all the figured bass in the world and not be able to come up with one... so that strikes me as a separate area of study completely maybe...
    Last edited by christianm77; 03-13-2021 at 03:44 PM.

  23. #22

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    would you agree that I think this sort of thing occurs much more quickly to a jazz musician who tbh often have a bit of a prosaic nuts and bolts attitude to musical material (sometimes to a fault actually)?

    I think a classical musician might worry they were doing the music a violence and be much less likely to risk improvising their own variations on a piece even in private?

  24. #23

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    Classical musicians - and I suppose I am in part that - largely see improv in the classical context as an historical thing. What's good about Jonathan's videos is that he is also doing it with Elliott Carter's "Changes", one of the most difficult contemporary pieces in the repertoire. I recall an essay Jonathan wrote for the European Guitar Teachers Association some years ago, about learning interpretation through composition, imitative composition that is. You want to play Bach? Then write like him. Or at least try to. Same with Carter. It seems that he, Jonathan, has moved more towards improv these days than composition, though obviously the two are connected.

    Yes, Bach often starts his preludes stating the principal chords of the key, I, IV and V, before modulating to their relatives. Tonic and dominant pedals often get included. So, he starts small, close, then spreads out. Only late on in the piece will he wander into "foreign" territory, and then only in some pieces. It's enjoyable to just listen to a performance of a Bach prelude, especially one you are unfamiliar with, and try to hear this unfolding and exploration, and then figure out how he might get home again.

  25. #24

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    "What we write is different from what we play."

    François Couperin,
    L'art de toucher le clavecin, 1716.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    "What we write is different from what we play."

    François Couperin,
    L'art de toucher le clavecin, 1716.
    Interesting thing - this is quite well known to be true of baroque music. But it turns out this has been true rhythmically at least of all classical music up to the modern (post war) era