Tag Archives: improvisation

The First Jazz Composer?

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Claude Debussy? Discuss…. Professorscosco is worn out by the holidays, a burning, but very cold rooftop New Years jazz gig, and a long bike ride today, and is thus not inclined at the moment to pontificate about music theory. But … Continue reading

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Top-Down #2: Phrase Length, Strength, and the Third Dimension

There’s nothing wrong with strict song form, standards, blues, etc., and I have no objection to chord progressions – some of my best friends have strong resolutions. But, jazz music’s two big building blocks, song form (4-8-12-16 bar structure) and … Continue reading

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Scoring and Controlling Improvisation #2–Cells and Solos

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Writing “free” notation in jazz for pitched instruments is a challenge. While rhythm section players are used to making up their parts (reading chord changes, following ensemble figures with rhythmic notation), there might be some head-scratching at the session in … Continue reading

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Scoring and Controlling Improvisation #1–Rhythmic Cells

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I’ve written a lot of ensemble music where my intention was to create an improvised texture, or a feel of rhythmic and melodic freedom—fully notated music that sounds non-metered and non-harmonic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t. In many instances … Continue reading

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“Serious” Improvisation-Surfing the Third Stream

I’m writing a piece for string quartet and 3 percussionists. In this piece I want to have the players improvise in certain passages. This creates many challenges, not the least of which is how to notate improvisation. I’ve done this … Continue reading

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Lines Intertwining….

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(spoken in your best movie trailer voice:) In a world….full of hackneyed cultural references and tunes in D minor…, a composer seeks to break free. Free from the confines of the oppressive overlord…tonality…reality…How does a sailor lost at the sea … Continue reading

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Write for the Players and Play like a Writer

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How can a composer control the flow of musical information in a piece that’s improvised? How do you get a group to improvise together without it turning into an out of control free jazz fusion blowing session? Use the best … Continue reading

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