Sinden.org

Christmas, 2008/9

10.6.06
improvisation - Art of

Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation, DVD coverI haven't been slacking off. My intense research into the world of American improvisation/creativity, which consists mainly of watching movies and reading books, is proceeding as planned.

Shortly, I will be viewing Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation, and I expect to publish a reaction here.

Based on titles of works they have published, both organist Gerre Hancock and pianist Keith Jarrett believe that improvisation is an Art.

Jarrett will be an interesting case study in the world of improvisation. He's clearly a superbly gifted musician, one who is well-known as an improviser. More than that, his innovative solo concerts have been instances at spontaneous creation (improvisation that is not based on pre-existing themes).

Like comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the documentary Comedian, Jarrett recently sought to remodel his improvisations by starting from scratch (these efforts are captured by his most recent release Radiance). This artistic trajectory reveals an artist who is particularly attuned to the distilled, creative essence of his art.

There's a lot of personal interest here. I grew up listening to Jarrett, and I grew up improvising on the piano and the organ. What I'm really interested in getting a hold of is the concept of improvisation in isolation -- improvisation for its own sake.

I don't think organists have much experience with this concept. Most organ methodologies don't hesitate to introduce hymn-based techniques fairly early on. Surely this is practical, but it is putting the cart before the horse.

By teaching organists how to improvise set forms, certain methodologies surely relegate improvisation to the world of "craft." And while this may speak to the reality of what occurs when the organist improvises, I think it is worthwhile to try to access the bigger picture: improvisation as "Art."

By the same token, however, improvisation is most easily accessed through set forms and stipulations: a craft, if you will. And for some inexperienced improvisers, improvising without a predetermined form will lead to musical incontinence.

How much have organists been limited by our received methodologies? How many organists are asked to just improvise, for its own sake, and without the aid of anything pre-composed?

How many organists are comfortable removing the trappings of western music, or inherited default-churchiness to create something really honest, personal, artistic?

By way of example, the fugue was a necessary thing to improvise in Bach's time. One could even argue that the French had their own fugue thing going too. But how many American composers are still writing fugues? I mean, not even Henry Cowell really did (he wrote fuguing tunes, trying to reclaim an earlier American form), and he died forty years ago.

American organists just aren't talking enough about the Art of Improvisation. This is symptomatic of too few American organists improvising, which is in turn symptomatic of their being a lack of an American improvisational "style" or ethos.

And so, my quest for an An Ethos of Improvisation at the Organ in the United States (AEIOU) leads me into Jazz, a realm where improvisation is regularly practiced and discussed, even if not fully understood.

Labels: ,

 
Comments:
Thanks David, I really loved Keith Jarrett growing up and I didn't know that he'd made a DVD. I'm going to order it right now. And, indeed, improvisation is an art far too seldom practiced or performed.
 
Post a Comment

The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org

©MMVIII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet

Organ music, esoteric liturgics and a site that changes color with the liturgical year.

Currently:

(via Twitter)

Archetypes

Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption

Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida

The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.

Infrequently Asked Questions

picture of a chicken

Questions? Problems? email the sexton.

Archon

The author of this website is an organist whom the New York Times calls "repeatedly, insisting that he pay for his subscription". He likes to read parking meters, music, Texas Monthly and weather forecasts in Celcius, particularly whilst wearing cassock and surplice. He serves lasagna, overhand, as an example to many and on ecclesiastical juries. He takes photos, lots of dinner mints, and a little bit of time to get to know.

contact

Archbishops

Anglicans Online
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Ship of Fools
Stop Global Warming: Virtual March on Washington
Sluggy Freelance
This Blog Will Change the World

Archenemies

Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Aphaeresis
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
鉦彦物語
Kastenbalg News
Like a Fox
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Raw Story
Ryan is in Atlanta
This Side of Lost

Articles

Arches

Advent (Medfield MA)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St John's (Plymouth MI)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second Presbyterian Church (Indianapolis IN
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the Green (New Haven CT)

Auraling

BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong
Grace Cathedral (San Francisco CA)
St John's College (Cambridge, England)
St Thomas (New York NY)

Argyle

Like the site? Buy the shirt.

Areyou . . .

selling diphthongs?
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.

on the faculty of The University of Blogaria?
Yes.

the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.

interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.

Archives
this site used to be better:

March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008

Liturgical Alert Level:
Liturgical Alert Level

Come and Grow

RSS feed