Musical improvisation

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Musical improvisation (also known as musical extemporization) is the creative activity of immediate ("in the moment") musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians. Musical improvisation_sentence_0

Sometimes musical ideas in improvisation are spontaneous, but may be based on chord changes in classical music and many other kinds of music. Musical improvisation_sentence_1

One definition is a "performance given extempore without planning or preparation". Musical improvisation_sentence_2

Another definition is to "play or sing (music) extemporaneously, by inventing variations on a melody or creating new melodies, rhythms and harmonies". Musical improvisation_sentence_3

Encyclopædia Britannica defines it as "the extemporaneous composition or free performance of a musical passage, usually in a manner conforming to certain stylistic norms but unfettered by the prescriptive features of a specific musical text. Musical improvisation_sentence_4

Improvisation is often done within (or based on) a pre-existing harmonic framework or chord progression. Musical improvisation_sentence_5

Improvisation is a major part of some types of 20th-century music, such as blues, rock music, jazz, and jazz fusion, in which instrumental performers improvise solos, melody lines and accompaniment parts. Musical improvisation_sentence_6

Throughout the eras of the Western art music tradition, including the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, improvisation was a valued skill. Musical improvisation_sentence_7

J. Musical improvisation_sentence_8 S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and many other famous composers and musicians were known especially for their improvisational skills. Musical improvisation_sentence_9

Improvisation might have played an important role in the monophonic period. Musical improvisation_sentence_10

The earliest treatises on polyphony, such as the Musica enchiriadis (ninth century), indicate that added parts were improvised for centuries before the first notated examples. Musical improvisation_sentence_11

However, it was only in the fifteenth century that theorists began making a hard distinction between improvised and written music. Musical improvisation_sentence_12

Some classical music forms contained sections for improvisation, such as the cadenza in solo concertos, or the preludes to some keyboard suites by Bach and Handel, which consist of elaborations of a progression of chords, which performers are to use as the basis for their improvisation. Musical improvisation_sentence_13

Handel, Scarlatti, and Bach all belonged to a tradition of solo keyboard improvisation, in which they improvised on the harpsichord or pipe organ. Musical improvisation_sentence_14

In the Baroque era, performers improvised ornaments and basso continuo keyboard players improvised chord voicings based on figured bass notation. Musical improvisation_sentence_15

However, in the 20th and early 21st century, as "common practice" Western art music performance became institutionalized in symphony orchestras, opera houses and ballets, improvisation has played a smaller role. Musical improvisation_sentence_16

At the same time, some contemporary composers from the 20th and 21st century have increasingly included improvisation in their creative work. Musical improvisation_sentence_17

In Indian classical music, improvisation is a core component and an essential criterion of performances. Musical improvisation_sentence_18

In Iranian, Indian, Afghan, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi classical music, raga is the "tonal framework for composition and improvisation". Musical improvisation_sentence_19

The Encyclopædia Britannica defines a raga as "a melodic framework for improvisation and composition". Musical improvisation_sentence_20

In Western music Musical improvisation_section_0

Medieval period Musical improvisation_section_1

Although melodic improvisation was an important factor in European music from the earliest times, the first detailed information on improvisation technique appears in ninth-century treatises instructing singers on how to add another melody to a pre-existent liturgical chant, in a style called organum. Musical improvisation_sentence_21

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, improvised counterpoint over a cantus firmus (a practice found both in church music and in popular dance music) constituted a part of every musician's education, and is regarded as the most important kind of unwritten music before the Baroque period. Musical improvisation_sentence_22

Renaissance period Musical improvisation_section_2

Following the invention of music printing at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there is more detailed documentation of improvisational practice, in the form of published instruction manuals, mainly in Italy. Musical improvisation_sentence_23

In addition to improvising counterpoint over a cantus firmus, singers and instrumentalists improvised melodies over ostinato chord patterns, made elaborate embellishments of melodic lines, and invented music extemporaneously without any predetermined schemata. Musical improvisation_sentence_24

Keyboard players likewise performed extempore, freely formed pieces. Musical improvisation_sentence_25

Baroque period Musical improvisation_section_3

The kinds of improvisation practised during the Renaissance—principally either the embellishing of an existing part or the creation of an entirely new part or parts—continued into the early Baroque, though important modifications were introduced. Musical improvisation_sentence_26

Ornamentation began to be brought more under the control of composers, in some cases by writing out embellishments, and more broadly by introducing symbols or abbreviations for certain ornamental patterns. Musical improvisation_sentence_27

Two of the earliest important sources for vocal ornamentation of this sort are Giovanni Battista Bovicelli's Regole, passaggi di musica (1594), and the preface to Giulio Caccini's collection, Le nuove musiche (1601/2) Musical improvisation_sentence_28

Melodic instruments Musical improvisation_section_4

Eighteenth-century manuals make it clear that performers on the flute, oboe, violin, and other melodic instruments were expected not only to ornament previously composed pieces, but also spontaneously to improvise preludes. Musical improvisation_sentence_29

Basso continuo Musical improvisation_section_5

The basso continuo (accompaniment) was mainly improvised, the composer usually providing no more than a harmonic sketch called the figured bass. Musical improvisation_sentence_30

The process of improvisation was called realization. Musical improvisation_sentence_31

Main article: Realization (figured bass) Musical improvisation_sentence_32

Organ improvisation and church music Musical improvisation_section_6

Musical improvisation_description_list_0

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the "monodic textures that originated about 1600 … were ready-made, indeed in large measure intended, for improvisational enhancement, not only of the treble parts but also, almost by definition, of the bass, which was figured to suggest no more than a minimal chordal outline." Musical improvisation_sentence_33

Improvised accompaniment over a figured bass was a common practice during the Baroque era, and to some extent the following periods. Musical improvisation_sentence_34

Improvisation remains a feature of organ playing in some church services and are regularly also performed at concerts. Musical improvisation_sentence_35

Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach were regarded in the Baroque period as highly skilled organ improvisers. Musical improvisation_sentence_36

During the 20th century, some musicians known as great improvisers such as Marcel Dupré, Pierre Cochereau and Pierre Pincemaille continued this form of music, in the tradition of the French organ school. Musical improvisation_sentence_37

Maurice Duruflé, a great improviser himself, transcribed improvisations by Louis Vierne and Charles Tournemire. Musical improvisation_sentence_38

Olivier Latry later wrote his improvisations as a compositions, for example Salve Regina. Musical improvisation_sentence_39

Classical period Musical improvisation_section_7

Keyboard improvisation Musical improvisation_section_8

Classical music departs from baroque style in that sometimes several voices may move together as chords involving both hands, to form brief phrases without any passing tones. Musical improvisation_sentence_40

Though such motifs were used sparingly by Mozart, they were taken up much more liberally by Beethoven and Schubert. Musical improvisation_sentence_41

Such chords also appeared to some extent in baroque keyboard music, such as the 3rd movement theme in Bach's Italian Concerto. Musical improvisation_sentence_42

But at that time such a chord often appeared only in one clef at a time, (or one hand on the keyboard) and did not form the independent phrases found more in later music. Musical improvisation_sentence_43

Adorno mentions this movement of the Italian Concerto as a more flexible, improvisatory form, in comparison to Mozart, suggesting the gradual diminishment of improvisation well before its decline became obvious. Musical improvisation_sentence_44

The introductory gesture of "tonic, subdominant, dominant, tonic", however, much like its baroque form, continues to appear at the beginning of high-classical and romantic piano pieces (and much other music) as in Haydn's sonata Hob.16/No. Musical improvisation_sentence_45 52 and Beethoven's sonata opus 78. Musical improvisation_sentence_46

Beethoven and Mozart cultivated mood markings such as con amore, appassionato, cantabile, and expressivo. Musical improvisation_sentence_47

In fact, it is perhaps because improvisation is spontaneous that it is akin to the communication of love. Musical improvisation_sentence_48

Mozart and Beethoven Musical improvisation_section_9

Beethoven and Mozart left excellent examples of what their improvisations were like, in the sets of variations and the sonatas which they published, and in their written out cadenzas (which illustrate what their improvisations would have sounded like). Musical improvisation_sentence_49

As a keyboard player, Mozart competed at least once in improvisation, with Muzio Clementi. Musical improvisation_sentence_50

Beethoven won many tough improvisatory battles over such rivals as Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Daniel Steibelt, and Joseph Woelfl. Musical improvisation_sentence_51

Romantic period Musical improvisation_section_10

Instrumental Musical improvisation_section_11

Extemporization, both in the form of introductions to pieces, and links between pieces, continued to be a feature of keyboard concertising until the early 20th-century. Musical improvisation_sentence_52

Amongst those who practised such improvisation were Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, Anton Rubinstein, Paderewski, Percy Grainger and Pachmann. Musical improvisation_sentence_53

Improvisation in the area of 'art music' seems to have declined with the growth of recording. Musical improvisation_sentence_54

Opera Musical improvisation_section_12

After studying over 1,200 early Verdi recordings, Will Crutchfield concludes that "The solo cavatina was the most obvious and enduring locus of soloistic discretion in nineteenth-century opera". Musical improvisation_sentence_55

He goes on to identify seven main types of vocal improvisation used by opera singers in this repertory: Musical improvisation_sentence_56

Musical improvisation_unordered_list_1

  • 1. The Verdian "full-stop" cadenzaMusical improvisation_item_1_1
  • 2. Arias without "full-stop": ballate, canzoni, and romanzeMusical improvisation_item_1_2
  • 3. Ornamentation of internal cadencesMusical improvisation_item_1_3
  • 4. Melodic variants (interpolated high notes, acciaccature, rising two-note "slide")Musical improvisation_item_1_4
  • 5. Strophic variation and the problem of the cabalettaMusical improvisation_item_1_5
  • 6. Facilitations (puntature, simplification of fioratura, etc.)Musical improvisation_item_1_6
  • 7. RecitativeMusical improvisation_item_1_7

Modern opinions Musical improvisation_section_13

Theodor Adorno Musical improvisation_section_14

Toward the end of the section of Aesthetic Theory entitled "Art Beauty" (in the English edition), Theodor Adorno included a brief argument on improvisation's aesthetic value. Musical improvisation_sentence_57

Claiming that artworks must have a "thing-character" through which their spiritual content breaks, Adorno pointed out that the thing-character is in question in the improvised, yet present. Musical improvisation_sentence_58

It may be assumed Adorno meant classical improvisation, not jazz, which he mostly excoriated. Musical improvisation_sentence_59

He held jazz, for example, to be antithetical to Beethoven. Musical improvisation_sentence_60

There is more extensive treatment, essentially about traditional jazz, in Prisms and The Jargon of Authenticity. Musical improvisation_sentence_61

Contemporary Musical improvisation_section_15

Jazz Musical improvisation_section_16

Main article: Jazz improvisation Musical improvisation_sentence_62

Improvisation is one of the basic elements that sets jazz apart from other types of music. Musical improvisation_sentence_63

The unifying moments in improvisation that take place in live performance are understood to encompass the performer, the listener, and the physical space that the performance takes place in. Musical improvisation_sentence_64

Even if improvisation is also found outside of jazz, it may be that no other music relies so much on the art of "composing in the moment", demanding that every musician rise to a certain level of creativity that may put the performer in touch with his or her unconscious as well as conscious states. Musical improvisation_sentence_65

The educational use of improvised jazz recordings is widely acknowledged. Musical improvisation_sentence_66

They offer a clear value as documentation of performances despite their perceived limitations. Musical improvisation_sentence_67

With these available, generations of jazz musicians are able to implicate styles and influences in their performed new improvisations. Musical improvisation_sentence_68

Many varied scales and their modes can be used in improvisation. Musical improvisation_sentence_69

They are often not written down in the process, but they help musicians practice the jazz idiom. Musical improvisation_sentence_70

Contemporary classical music Musical improvisation_section_17

With the notable exception of liturgical improvisation on the organ, the first half of the twentieth century is marked by an almost total absence of actual improvisation in art music. Musical improvisation_sentence_71

Since the 1950s, some contemporary composers have placed fewer restrictions on the improvising performer, using techniques such as vague notation (for example, indicating only that a certain number of notes must sound within a defined period of time). Musical improvisation_sentence_72

New Music ensembles formed around improvisation were founded, such as the Scratch Orchestra in England; Musica Elettronica Viva in Italy; Lukas Foss Improvisation Chamber Ensemble at the University of California, Los Angeles; Larry Austin's New Music Ensemble at the University of California, Davis; the ONCE Group at Ann Arbor; the Sonic Arts Group; and Sonics, the latter three funding themselves through concerts, tours, and grants. Musical improvisation_sentence_73

Significant pieces include Foss Time Cycles (1960) and Echoi (1963). Musical improvisation_sentence_74

Other composers working with improvisation include Richard Barrett, Benjamin Boretz, Pierre Boulez, Joseph Brent, Sylvano Bussotti, Cornelius Cardew, Jani Christou, Douglas J. Cuomo, Alvin Curran, Stuart Dempster, Hugh Davies, Karlheinz Essl, Mohammed Fairouz, Rolf Gehlhaar, Vinko Globokar, Richard Grayson, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Barton McLean, Priscilla McLean, Stephen Nachmanovitch, Pauline Oliveros, Henri Pousseur, Todd Reynolds, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Saman Samadi, William O. Smith, Manfred Stahnke, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Toru Takemitsu, Richard Teitelbaum, Vangelis, Michael Vetter, Christian Wolff, Iannis Xenakis, Yitzhak Yedid, La Monte Young, Frank Zappa, Hans Zender, and John Zorn. Musical improvisation_sentence_75

Contemporary popular music Musical improvisation_section_18

Psychedelic- and progressive-rock music Musical improvisation_section_19

British and American psychedelic rock acts of the 1960s and 1970s used improvisations to express themselves in a musical language. Musical improvisation_sentence_76

The progressive rock genre also began exploring improvisation as a musical expression, e.g. Henry Cow. Musical improvisation_sentence_77

Silent-film music Musical improvisation_section_20

In the realm of silent film-music performance, there were musicians (theatre organ players and piano players) whose improvised performances accompanying these film has been recognized as exceptional by critics, scholars, and audiences alike. Musical improvisation_sentence_78

Neil Brand was a composer who also performed improvisationally. Musical improvisation_sentence_79

Brand, along with Guenter A. Buchwald, Philip Carli, Stephen Horne, Donald Sosin, John Sweeney, and Gabriel Thibaudeau, all performed at the annual conference on silent film in Pordenone, Italy, "Le Giornate del Cinema Muto". Musical improvisation_sentence_80

In improvising for silent film, performers have to play music that matches the mood, style and pacing of the films they accompany. Musical improvisation_sentence_81

In some cases, musicians had to accompany films at first sight, without preparation. Musical improvisation_sentence_82

Improvisers needed to know a wide range of musical styles and have the stamina to play for sequences of films which occasionally ran over three hours. Musical improvisation_sentence_83

In addition to the performances, some pianists also taught master classes for those who wanted to develop their skill in improvising for films. Musical improvisation_sentence_84

When talkiesmotion pictures with sound–were introduced, these talented improvising musicians had to find other jobs. Musical improvisation_sentence_85

In the 2010s, there are a small number of film societies which present vintage silent films, using live improvising musicians to accompany the film. Musical improvisation_sentence_86

Venues Musical improvisation_section_21

Worldwide there are many venues dedicated to supporting live improvisation. Musical improvisation_sentence_87

In Melbourne since 1998, the Make It Up Club (held every Tuesday evening at Bar Open on Brunswick Street, Melbourne) has been presenting a weekly concert series dedicated to promoting avant-garde improvised music and sound performance of the highest conceptual and performative standards (regardless of idiom, genre, or instrumentation). Musical improvisation_sentence_88

The Make It Up Club has become an institution in Australian improvised music and consistently features artists from all over the world. Musical improvisation_sentence_89

Music education Musical improvisation_section_22

A number of approaches to teaching improvisation have emerged in jazz pedagogy, popular music pedagogy, the Dalcroze method, Orff-Schulwerk, and Satis Coleman's creative music. Musical improvisation_sentence_90

Current research in music education includes investigating how often improvisation is taught, how confident music majors and teachers are at teaching improvisation, neuroscience and psychological aspects of improvisation, and free-improvisation as a pedagogical approach. Musical improvisation_sentence_91

Eastern music Musical improvisation_section_23

A raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music. Musical improvisation_sentence_92

Joep Bor of the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music has defined Raga as "tonal framework for composition and improvisation". Musical improvisation_sentence_93

Nazir Jairazbhoy, chairman of UCLA's department of ethnomusicology, characterized ragas as separated by scale, line of ascent and descent, , emphasized notes and register, and intonation and ornaments. Musical improvisation_sentence_94

A raga uses a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is constructed. Musical improvisation_sentence_95

However, the way the notes are approached and rendered in musical phrases and the mood they convey are more important in defining a raga than the notes themselves. Musical improvisation_sentence_96

In the Indian musical tradition, rāgas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons. Musical improvisation_sentence_97

Indian classical music is always set in a rāga. Musical improvisation_sentence_98

Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs and ghazals sometimes use rāgas in their compositions. Musical improvisation_sentence_99

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a raga, also spelled rag (in northern India) or ragam (in southern India), (from Sanskrit, meaning "colour" or "passion"), in the classical music of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, is "a melodic framework for improvisation and composition. Musical improvisation_sentence_100

A raga is based on a scale with a given set of notes, a typical order in which they appear in melodies, and characteristic musical motifs. Musical improvisation_sentence_101

The basic components of a raga can be written down in the form of a scale (in some cases differing in ascent and descent). Musical improvisation_sentence_102

By using only these notes, by emphasizing certain degrees of the scale, and by going from note to note in ways characteristic to the raga, the performer sets out to create a mood or atmosphere (rasa) that is unique to the raga in question. Musical improvisation_sentence_103

There are several hundred ragas in present use, and thousands are possible in theory." Musical improvisation_sentence_104

Alapa (Sanskrit: "conversation") are "improvised melody structures that reveal the musical characteristics of a raga". Musical improvisation_sentence_105

"Alapa ordinarily constitutes the first section of the performance of a raga. Musical improvisation_sentence_106

Vocal or instrumental, it is accompanied by a drone (sustained-tone) instrument and often also by a melodic instrument that repeats the soloist's phrases after a lag of a few seconds. Musical improvisation_sentence_107

The principal portion of alapa is not metric but rhythmically free; in Hindustani music it moves gradually to a section known as jor, which uses a rhythmic pulse though no tala (metric cycle). Musical improvisation_sentence_108

The performer of the alapa gradually introduces the essential notes and melodic turns of the raga to be performed. Musical improvisation_sentence_109

Only when the soloist is satisfied that he has set forth the full range of melodic possibilities of the raga and has established its unique mood and personality will he proceed, without interruption, to the metrically organized section of the piece. Musical improvisation_sentence_110

If a drummer is present, as is usual in formal concert, his first beats serve as a signal to the listener that the alapa is concluded." Musical improvisation_sentence_111

Artificial intelligence Musical improvisation_section_24

Main article: Machine improvisation Musical improvisation_sentence_112

See also: Machine learning, Machine listening, Artificial intelligence, and Computer models of musical creativity Musical improvisation_sentence_113

Machine improvisation uses computer algorithms to create improvisation on existing music materials. Musical improvisation_sentence_114

This is usually done by sophisticated recombination of musical phrases extracted from existing music, either live or pre-recorded. Musical improvisation_sentence_115

In order to achieve credible improvisation in particular style, machine improvisation uses machine learning and pattern matching algorithms to analyze existing musical examples. Musical improvisation_sentence_116

The resulting patterns are then used to create new variations "in the style" of the original music, developing a notion of stylistic reinjection. Musical improvisation_sentence_117

This is different from other improvisation methods with computers that use algorithmic composition to generate new music without performing analysis of existing music examples. Musical improvisation_sentence_118

See also Musical improvisation_section_25

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: improvisation.