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My Journey with My Violin Since May 1716.
A probably unusual way to learn improvising via baroque play-alongs.
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Demoiselle
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You just presented a minuet and that makes me think of my own history. Because I always love minuets a lot when I was a child. And I was yearning to learn how to dance the minuet for a long time. In the early 2000s I ended up in Berlin when I had just begun to work on improvised baroque music. And soon found Berliner baroque dance classes on the internet. So I had a teacher an the chance to study minuet and other dances of the baroque period. Later I changed to another teacher who is now working as baroque choreographer at big German opera houses. So I really went deep into that kind of "French dancing" like the "gallant generation" said in the "gallant (modern) world/time". I went into that time and read original sources -- books of the old dancing masters (who are my teachers today).

My friend and baroque dance class member Tina loved the chaconne, whereas I remained being mainly a minuet lover. Minuets could really make me cry, because they touched me so deeply. But over time I learned, that Tina was right! Well, I still love minuets, but I have to separate them from baroque improvisation. It took me a long time until I finally understood that. Minuets are pop songs (the mostly had lyrics which are mostly forgotten now) and they are very pretty indeed. But most what you find in Suites is not ideal material for improvisation. It's downright a tragedy that I began to understand that in 2011: The baroque sonata is coming from improvisation. Quite some sonatas use the form of suite movements in the early 1700s. So I also had to learn to go further back to the 1600s and by CDs with composers I had never heard of. The generation before Vivaldi, who influenced people like Vivaldi. Like Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690).

Back to Tina and the chaconne: My minuets meant limitation, whereas Tina's chaconne meant freedom and lots of possibilities. Chaconnes are used in Sonatas, Suites and Operas and  they are the key to getting into baroque improvisation as I think. Maybe Fiddlerman will agree because he improvised over LA FOLIA (French: LES FOLIES D'ESPAGNE) and that was gorgeous. It is awful if you try to write down a minuet in jazz chord symbols. Because their chords stick under their single notes, it looks like the worst chaos if you try to write that down as chords. Generally minuet chords are rather simple, but they tend to change under almost every note. Theoretically I am able to analyse that an write down the chords, but it looks awful and playing that at my spinet is a huge headache. It is simple but it looks complicated and confusing. It's a mess. So the minuet was really supposed to rather be played from sheets, like you just did. Composers like Mr. Handel handed signatures to their harpsichordists which show the intervals using numbers. It makes more sense to write down the harmony of a minuet that way.

The chaconne is very different from that. It is the old Spanish Ciacona which came from renaissance music into baroque music. LA FOLIA is a good example (3/4 time):

|   d   |   A  |  d  |  C  |

|   F   |   C   |  d  |  A  |

[d = Dm = D minor]

Many chaconnes have just 4 bars, like Passacaille d'Armide by the sun kings composer Lully (3/4 time):

|   d   |   C  |  B♭ |  A  |

The Austrian composer used that chord progression years before Lully. I guess they both learned that in Italy and it probably came from Spain. My 'pen friend' Elisabeth Charlotte de Orléans says there are Spanish comedians at court at times and they also play Spanish music. So you probably heard it played by them too. (Madame writes they eat a lot of garlic so she couldn't stand it behind the stage for a long time).

 Passacaille d'Armide, or just "Ciacona" how Biber call his version, is one of my favorite. First I assumed there wouldn't be much more variety in the baroque chaconne, that this was pretty much all. I was very wrong! There's a 7 bar Ciacona by Buxtehude which has a remarkable drive and is still driving me crazy. Someday I will deeply get into that and make myself used to that peculiar form.

The French composer published his famous Sonnerie de Sainte-Genviève du Mont de Paris. In my opinion it is the ideal start for beginners:

|  d, d, A  |

That bar is repeated over and over again until it suddenly changes to....

|  F, F, C  |

....and finally goes back to....

|  d, d, A  |

To years I sat down and figured out other simple examples which finally lead into being able to play LA FOLIA. Why not for example....

|  d  |  C  |

....and improvise for minutes to that? If I add that exercise to what I've just learned from Marais, I'm prepared to work on LA FOLIA.

A violinist who would love to work on that should get a keyboard as soon as possible. Because piano keys make the relation between scales and chords obvious. You play the triad with your left hand, while your right hand tries out melodic phrases. There's no such simple entrance in jazz*, although jazz has a lot in common with baroque music. In baroque music it can get very complicated too, but the chaconne concept makes the start very simple.

I guess I explained it better than before now, so everybody who is interested in that matter can figure it out here.

_________________

* If we count in Caribbean music I'm very wrong  because they still use short chord phrases like that. But that music is mostly hot and fast and that makes is difficult. But okay, why not start with a lazy rumba or cha-cha-cha? If you start with baroque music you are not automatically able to play jazz as well. And when you are experienced in jazz, you can't play improvised baroque music right away. I started on the violin in 2015 and at the same time began to buy lots of CDs with violin sonatas. Because I knew from experience how much listening experience I needed to understand jazz phrasing. I had to reprogram my ear to the typical phasing of baroque sonatas. And I played them over and over again, just like I listened to jazz in my youth. You can hear my early trials in this thread, it took years to find my baroque style.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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BillyG
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I too really enjoy following your work and progress @Demoiselle - I particularly enjoyed your video at 

It is really interesting how we as different individuals come into an understanding of music, and how we develop that path. 

For me, way way back as a child, I was gifted a piano accordion.  At some where around the age of 10 to 12 I was figuring out "how it all worked" (not the accordion, the music).   Way back before the days of the internet of course, I got my hands on virtually every library book that had even the remotest connection with musical theory.

I ended up - in a sense - "using" a (simplified) sol-fa approach ( solfege in its most basic form I guess ) - with a "moveable 'do'".   I soon discovered what a major scale sounds like and how it works.  Then the aeolian mode (just "minor" to me at that time).  Then uncovering the chromatic scale, and just exactly HOW intervals work and why they sound the way they do (thirds, minor thirds, fourths, fifths and on and on...), and indeed, how they combine when sequenced, and observing what "feel" certain chord sequences give to a piece of music.  

With that basic knowledge behind me, it became relatively easy to figure out the white-and-black-keys on the accordion, and of course the piano or any fretted instrument.   Then I came to understand the different modes, "I Don't Play Loud Music Any Longer" ( Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian - and of course special scales like pentatonic and variations of the minor. 

Improvisation then comes easy - but it is a lot of learning 🙂 

It's interesting to share and appreciate the approach of others, Thanks for your posts 🙂 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Demoiselle
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bocaholly said
@Demoiselle 
WOW! 

I've been reading and re-reading your post for a few minutes now in awe, trying to figure out what I can reasonably take away. Probably more than "learning to play", I'm getting that your approach is much about "learning to hear." 

Thanks again for the time you took sharing your journey. Now off to some early morning "getting with the flow" 🙂  

I think it's also about falling in love with a certain kind of music. When I was 12 years old I got a new stepmother after my mother had died 2 years before. My father just 'slapped' the piano (also Handel a lot) and sometimes there was music on the radio accidentally. My stepmother had lots of records and played Handel a lot. That was how I fell in love with Handel. But when I tried to figure out my own music in Handel style my father was like, "No way, just play from sheets!" Well, after the death of my mother I had lots of problems and probably needed a way to express myself. Which probably makes people fall deeper in love with music than others. Well he couldn't stop me when I fell in love with jazz at age 15.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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mookje
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I have read your whole topic story, so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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Demoiselle
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mookje said
I have read your whole topic story, so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!  

You mean you read all 16 pages? Oh my God! Sounds like very long read to me. Well, you're welcome. 🙂

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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BillyG said
I too really enjoy following your work and progress @Demoiselle - I particularly enjoyed your video at 

It is really interesting how we as different individuals come into an understanding of music, and how we develop that path. 

For me, way way back as a child, I was gifted a piano accordion.  At some where around the age of 10 to 12 I was figuring out "how it all worked" (not the accordion, the music).   Way back before the days of the internet of course, I got my hands on virtually every library book that had even the remotest connection with musical theory.

I ended up - in a sense - "using" a (simplified) sol-fa approach ( solfege in its most basic form I guess ) - with a "moveable 'do'".   I soon discovered what a major scale sounds like and how it works.  Then the aeolian mode (just "minor" to me at that time).  Then uncovering the chromatic scale, and just exactly HOW intervals work and why they sound the way they do (thirds, minor thirds, fourths, fifths and on and on...), and indeed, how they combine when sequenced, and observing what "feel" certain chord sequences give to a piece of music.  

With that basic knowledge behind me, it became relatively easy to figure out the white-and-black-keys on the accordion, and of course the piano or any fretted instrument.   Then I came to understand the different modes, "I Don't Play Loud Music Any Longer" ( Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian - and of course special scales like pentatonic and variations of the minor. 

Improvisation then comes easy - but it is a lot of learning 🙂 

It's interesting to share and appreciate the approach of others, Thanks for your posts 🙂   

Sounds like you had lots of patience at young age. I was very impatient and wanted everything right away. Today I would have enough patience to read books about traditional scales, at young age I had not. Handel's Hamburger friend Mattheson published a book about music theory in 1713. I have it as reprint. In that book he writes about about those old Greek scales on page 58. Well, I can figure those scales out at a keyboard, but I will forget them within seconds and mess them all up. I need chords to make music. Before I went to jam session with the certain church organ player I told myself not to bring my silly little mp3 player with my play-alongs on it. I learned it was a mistake because I had nothing to warm up. I need to hear at least one chord to make me want to respond to it. If you hit a chord on your accordion I would probably die to add a couple notes to it. But if there's just silence I have absolutely no idea what to play. Harmony wakes me up, gets me going. That's how my musical DNA works. Sometimes I'm out in the street and hear some musicians play. You can be sure each time I quietly suffer because I have no instrument to join in. Whenever I hear music I want it so badly! If you take me to a symphony concert where they play some stuff that really touches me, all what I want in that moment will be joining in to improvise to that music. Funny, isn't it? Just imagine a guy with a piccolo flute unpacking his instrument in the middle of a classical music concert. I'm too much of a coward to try that, but at least you can be sure I would applaud him most frenetically. LOL

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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BillyG said
........Way back before the days of the internet of course, I got my hands on virtually every library book that had even the remotest connection with musical theory...........

   

The problem is, classical music teachers have been teaching those old Greek scales for a long time, without really knowing what to do with them in a creative sense. We also had to learn those scales in high school, when I was already performing as a jazz musician. And I felt like those old scales are absolutely useless today. They were boring me.

Handel's old friend, Mattheson, wrote over 300 years ago, that we don't need those old scales any longer. And he was correct.... until they rediscovered those old scales and used them in modern jazz. In the scale theory of modern jazz they schematically use scales -- to every chord belongs a certain scale. Which is an awful mechanistic approach to improvisation in music. You fill in scales like fixed formulas.

For improvisation in folk music you need to know triads and how they are related. Further intervals to add on. If you read the chord Dminor7 for instance, you know that the seventh C is a note within your scale. But if you go deeper into it gets a little more complicated -- more complicated than piecing together traditional scales. Actually you can justify any note of the chromatic scale. At any time you are free to use all 12 half tones of the chromatic scale. All you have to consider is the harmonic context you see in chords. For instance I can justify the note D# as half tone transition on a Dminor chord because it leads to the fifth of the dominant chord Amajor. Tonic Dminor is closely related to it's dominant Amajor. You can actually mix these two chords, so nobody can tell which of both you actually play.

The scale of a Dminor chord is most interesting where it's continued from the note A on: Will you go over Bb or B? Will you involve C (which is the seventh) or will you prepare D with a half note transition on C#? Actually you can combine all of those choices and that's what I call musical freedom. As long as you have just Dminor (and not Dminor7) you can use any note of any Greek scale. In other words, we can do more than middle age people were allowed to. If you started with the keynote C for instance and possibly touched the 5th, you are free to add something really crazy because you have created a harmonic context where you can theoretically add on anything. I say possibly, because you can do that with the 3rd as well.

If you follow Greek scales today, you're narrowing your choices. And that's what I once criticized in the forum of Jamey Aebersold: "You're scale ideology is narrowing my choices, I refuse to follow that!" And I pointed out that I can at least play one more note to a certain chord than its scale contained. In jazz it is actually possible to play the two intervalls 6th and 7th together. Which would be Dminor76, which is not uncommon. The scale method is like, "You play either this or that, depending on the chord."

That's why I'm strongly opposed to that scale stuff. Plus because my high school music teacher was so awfully dull. He had no idea about being creative in music, so he didn't really know what he was talking about. Most authors who write stuffy books about music theory don't know it either.

I saw a guitar in the background of your YouTube videos, so you can actually work on chords. In the triad you have two thirds, then you can add further intervals on, which is very simple math: The 4th added to the triad Cmajor is Csus4 (you can either substitute E with F or play them both in a nice inversion where E, F and G will not cluster). You can add on the 6th and have the chord C6 with four notes. Then follows the choice between C7 or Cmaj7, so it's either flat 7th or major 7th (major is often used on the tonic whereas the flat 7th rather tends to be used as transition to the subdominant chord Fmajor). In jazz they like to add on the ninth to form a chord with 5 notes like C79 or C69. If you read Csus2 it means practically the same note, but it this case it substitutes E in the triad (means you play D instead of the 3rd E).

There are also diminished chords and augmented chords, but you hardly use them in folk and baroque. Cdim would be the triad C, Eb, F# -- then you can decide whether you want to add on 6th or 7th too or not (in jazz they diminsh 6th and 7th together with the triad which I find very circuitous thinking). C augmented is often seen as F+ and the notes are F, A, C#. I dare to say that you will never find augmented chord in folk or baroque music. You need it in the bridge of the 1930s pop song DINAH which is now famous as a jazz standard, where it goes:

|  Dm  |  F+  |   F   | Dm6 |

Which is very charming, because the bass can play the chromatic scale down to that chord progression:

D--, C#--, C--, H--

So even that last stuff is no difficult rocket science. The chord theory is very useful, because you can really do something with it. You can chose some chords and start to make music. Knowing what Aolian is, is not really necessary to make music, unless you play medieval music. Middle age people had a totally different view on music, they hated the 3rd, which narrows the possibilities of medieval music an awful lot. They were actually crazy like radical islamists, considering certain notes evil. That's why these old scale stuff is so dull, because it's musical fundamentalism. All you can do with them is torture young people, "There, learn those useless Greek names and all their notes, or you get bad grades!" It's good for nothing.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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I am trying to demonstrate what improvisational flow is. I can experience that while playing just one note like almost forever. And I add just a couple more notes, staying on the G-string all the time. At times I improvise up and down, from G-string to E-string and back down etc. And soon I have the unpleasant feeling that I've already said everything and there wouldn't be anymore things to express. That's when I'm in a bad mood and don't find into the flow. Highly professional musicians have that too at times, they just keep on playing and it's very good, but not too pleasant. Playing while not enjoying yourself is not a good feeling for the player himself. But in this example I just kept to the G-string and could have played so much more, going ahead to three more strings. That's flow.... feeling like Mr. Bean, enjoying himself while doing silly things. Having lots of ideas, without thinking much. I like the final decrescendo on the last note, like there are little bunny babies who are falling asleep and I don't want to wake them up. It is also part of being capricious and simply unpredictable. Even I can't predict what I will do in the next moment, when I'm in a flow.

At the beginning, where I stick to just one note, there is a change of chords several times. In other words, the basic scales are changing while I keep playing A. Which is evidence that improvisation is not just playing scales up and down! And that scales are totally overrated these days.

This piece is in A minor and the last bar changes from Esus4 to E, until it goes back to the first bar on A minor. I can stick to A even in the last bar because of the 4th in Esus4. Knowing and hearing things like that are way more important for improvisation than learning difficult names of Greek scales. It brings color into music and color inspires and gets you into the flow sooner.

|    a    |    E   |    F   | E4, E4, E |

So these are the chords. In Aminor (a) the note A is keynote, in Emajor it's the 5th, in Fmajor it's the 3rd, in E4 (Esus4) it is the 4th. I never write sus because it makes my chord sheet only more confusing. I like it clear and that's how they taught me when I was 17 years old.

There is an art of being able and ready to make yourself happy to get into the flow sooner than others. Some people need alcohol to feel drunk, others don't need it. I can sit at the table and tell you silly thing, like I'm drunk without any alcohol. I'm in a flow then, without making music.

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My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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bocaholly
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thank you, @Demoiselle. That example was really understandable despite all of the background knowledge that goes into it. 

So you disapprove of focusing on scales but if I get you correctly, thinking in intervals is productive?

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Demoiselle
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bocaholly said
thank you, @Demoiselle. That example was really understandable despite all of the background knowledge that goes into it. 

So you disapprove of focusing on scales but if I get you correctly, thinking in intervals is productive?  

Harmonically, a scale is a bunch of intervals. If you improvise or compose, you combine scales with other intervals, like 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths and octaves. People easily forget to involve long notes too -- I am constantly reminding myself, "You are applying too many notes, use more long notes."

Scales are a question of listening experience. If you hear Arabic music, you hear different scales and if you hear traditional Chinese music scales are different again. We haven't been raised there, so we are not familiar with those scales. People who come from Araby have heard Arabic scales all their live and how to use them within music. Which comes from listening experience. Mainly by listening to music, not just by studying scales.

In the western world it's different, since we developed on, far beyond traditional music. Our culture is split into many fractions of people who have very different taste and ideas of music. There are musicians who listened to blues music all their live, which is the reason why they are familiar with typical blues scales. You don't find into natural blues phrasing by just learning those scales. You should work on them too, but above all you should listen to blues music a lot. That's how you get the necessary hearing and feeling.

I don't come from a blues background and that's why I'm very different. I've always been a sentimental type who listened to jazz involving titles from Cole Porter or Irving Berlin since I was a teenager. My stepmother complained a lot because in her mind I listened too much to music. Take the guitar player Jörg of my band in the 80s for instance: If Jörg gave you a lift in his car you heard a music cassette with jazz while driving. If you then got out of his car and spent time in his apartment he switched on his hi-fi system and again there was jazz in the background. So if people want to know how he became such damn good jazz guitarist, just tell them about listening experience -- driven by fanaticism. We were jazz crazy, although we differed. He soon began to develop from traditional swing into bebop. Jörg listened more and more to modern jazz and its typical bebop scales. While I stuck to the 30th an early 40th, improving my skills as a sentimental crooner and tap dancer. My favorite kind of music was actually the style of 1930s Fred Astaire movies like TOP HAT or SWING TIME plus swing jazz which was close to that. When Jörg and I began to cooperate we had similar ideas and listening experience -- in 1990 we had split. He was playing typical bebop scales in his improvisations. We had differing listening experience.

Working on scales and intervals and chords is fine and even necessary. But the most important thing is listening experience! All my decades-old jazz experience didn't help me when I started my experiments with baroque music. I pretty much had to start from scratch. I was around age 40 and knew very well, that again I had to listen to music a lot. This time to baroque music. I listened a lot and again it took years.

Ancient Greece was spit into differing cultures, sort of tribes. Each of them preferred a certain musical scale with different names. The Phrygians had their very special scale and that's how they distanced themselves from other Greek tribes. During the middle ages people combined all these Greek scales and still used the names of those Greek tribes/nations. And what I say is, that it doesn't help anybody today, to learn those difficult Greek vocabularies, unless you wanna make medieval music. I just looked the Greek scales up and copied "Phrygian" and I will forget it within a couple minutes. Because it's useless knowledge. I don't want to garbage my brain with that stuff because ancient Greek history is not my job.

My brother says he can't listen to music every day because it gives him a headache. But at the same time he wonders why he can't learn jazz improvisation. And I can only be like, "Sorry, there is no other way but listening, listening, listening." A natural desire to play music usually comes from hearing something and desperately wanting to play that way too. If a very young person then relentlessly goes after recording media and other sources, within a couple years the result will be an expert who has a good chance to become a great musician. Mainly by listening experience.

Classical music teaching is a different thing. In my opinion they produce robots instead of humans who use music in a natural way. That's why I leave that aside.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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bocaholly said
So you disapprove of focusing on scales but if I get you correctly, thinking in intervals is productive?  

Yes, I think focusing on intervals help a lot because you hear scales all the time. Improvisation is not just playing scales up and down, which would be very boring. Actually those old Greek scales differ in varying intervals. But medieval music had very primitive harmony, whereas the music of the 1600s through 1900s is based on a chord system with very complicated harmony.

Everybody can sing scales. But hardly anybody works themselves into the science of harmony. Learning chords and understanding their intervals are the way to become an expert in harmony. Learning to hear music three-dimensionally: You hear a bunch of chords and instinctively have an idea what melody to apply to them. I even forhear what chords a piano player will use next. Because my hearing experience and knowledge about harmony tells me where he's aiming at. "Aha, now he's doing a barber shop sequence...." That's why I can even join a jam session if I don't know the music titles they play. If it's a kind of music which is part of my listening experience.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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bocaholly
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I just came across this "5 Minutes That will Make You Love Classical Music"" article in the New York times. The author asked a bunch of personalities to choose pieces or passages they thought could make converts of non-lovers of classical music.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/arts/music/5-minutes-that-will-make-you-love-classical-music.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Music

The second piece down, chosen by Nico Muhly, Steve Reich’s “Duet,” for two violins and orchestra" isn't improvised (obviously, since it's a composition) but it's chord-based and sounds like it could have been born out of a similar process to yours, @Demoiselle. 

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Mark
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Demoiselle,

Very interesting thought process you have on improv, very similar to Stephen Gappanelli the father of gypsy jazz. From what I understand he utilized the chord structure of the song and used it for the basis of his improv by weaving the relative notes of the cords to create his signature sound.

Thanks,

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

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Demoiselle
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Mark said
Demoiselle,

Very interesting thought process you have on improv, very similar to Stephen Gappanelli the father of gypsy jazz. From what I understand he utilized the chord structure of the song and used it for the basis of his improv by weaving the relative notes of the cords to create his signature sound.

Thanks,

Mark  

Well, my old friend Jörg was indeed a gypsy swing guitarist when I met him 1985. He just left high-school and was a big fan of Django Rheinhardt. We were both dwelling in the 30s and early 40s. That was before he got interested in the late Django Rheinhardt who was already a bit more modern than classical swing. Then Jörg became an admirer of Charlie Parker and began to work himself into the bebop scale system.

But you are right, that musicians focused on chords before the bebop period. That was normal in the 20s and 30s. They needed an awful lot of listening experience, whereas today they feed scales to ignorants and make them play like music robots. And if you don't follow a certain scale, those poor players look like cows witnessing something spectacular.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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bocaholly said
I just came across this "5 Minutes That will Make You Love Classical Music"" article in the New York times. The author asked a bunch of personalities to choose pieces or passages they thought could make converts of non-lovers of classical music.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/arts/music/5-minutes-that-will-make-you-love-classical-music.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Music

The second piece down, chosen by Nico Muhly, Steve Reich’s “Duet,” for two violins and orchestra" isn't improvised (obviously, since it's a composition) but it's chord-based and sounds like it could have been born out of a similar process to yours, @Demoiselle.   

I'm not at all against all composers of music styles common people call classical music. I'm against those who made pseudo-religion out of it and sort of Gods out of old masters. Besides the term "classical music" in itself is wrong. Classicism (Klassizismus) is a period in art which started around 1770. It was mostly about architecture and painting, but the music of that period is also named "classische Musik" (in modern German "klassische Musik"). Ignorants took that term and used it for all kinds of concert music which wasn't popular music. Classisism refers to ancient Greek art. After the rococo period people had enough of flamboyance and love the clear lines of ancient art. And artists imitated that Greek style. That's why buildings of the classical period look quite a bit like ancient Greek temples. Different from baroque and rococo.

The tragedy is, that the common term "classical music" is so dumb, but nonetheless I have to use it, so common people understand what I'm talking about. Which downright hurts.

I once created music in classical and romantic style. And came to the result, that those styles eat people up. It takes away a lot of energy, so after you've created another work you feel almost like dead. In 1995/96 I composed a tragic opera and ended up depressed. I had the leading female part and what I had to sing was awfully tough on my voice. Classical and romantic opera has destroyed a lot of voices because it's technical overdo. No human voice withstands that over a long time. A lyrical voice lives way longer than a dramatic voice, but people love dramatic voices. And that destroys above all young female singers with parts like Carmen etc.

A big symphony orchestra is a monster machine, in which the single musician works like gear. In the same period they invented the guillotine, which tells me something.... The idea of the superhuman master, the genius, the "Übermensch" (over-human/above-human) created the "great masters of classical music" as sort of gods. The composer is everything, you are nobody. The same idea lead to the German Führer-cult: the Führer means everything, the individual is meaningless. This lead to collectivism: you are part of a mass, as an individual you are nothing. In "classical music" this idea made slaves out of musicians and outcast out of the audience. The further away you are from the master, the less you mean. The modern result is a caste system: Up there the musician, down there the audience. Above them all the "great old master" like the almighty God.

I respect Beethoven a lot, he didn't create this stupid system -- his fans did. I admire especially Antonín Dvořák. You can be sure that he also improvised, although you don't hear it. Because he worked things extremely thoroughly out afterwards. There are two composer who I dislike: Wagner because he was an anti-semite and part of the "völkische" Movement that lead to the naziparty. Mozart because he was rude and arrogant and I consider his symphonies an awful mess. I especially dislike his Magic Flute because I find it simply moronic and sexist.

The music post about 1730 doesn't swing and groove like general bass music, that's why I stick to baroque music. I don't want bombasticism, I need rhythmical drive to not fall asleep. Bombastic orchestra hits would only silence me. Like having been slapped. After they've beaten me up that way, the music suddenly changes to extremely subtle..... and way under my natural heart frequency. So then I'm too tired to play anything. I do not function within a system like this as an improviser. Because everything is so mannered and hysterical.

The 2nd example you've chosen is exactly the kind of music I couldn't play. There is no groove in the background. I can't play without groove and chords. The bass in the background is too subtle to push and inspire me and not rhythmical enough. My example was driven by an organ I had played on my synthesizer keyboard: with chords inspiring me to ideas and a beat which prevents my heart frequency from sinking down to where my violin would fall because I fall asleep.

As baroque dancer I could write a lot about the inhuman bone mill of classical ballet which also destroys people. But enough now.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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A big symphony orchestra is a monster machine, in which the single musician works like gear. In the same period they invented the guillotine, which tells me something.... The idea of the superhuman master, the genius, the "Übermensch" (over-human/above-human) created the "great masters of classical music" as sort of gods. The composer is everything, you are nobody. The same idea lead to the German Führer-cult: the Führer means everything, the individual is meaningless. This lead to collectivism: you are part of a mass, as an individual you are nothing. In "classical music" this idea made slaves out of musicians and outcast out of the audience. The further away you are from the master, the less you mean. The modern result is a caste system: Up there the musician, down there the audience. Above them all the "great old master" like the almighty God.

@Demoiselle 
Another WOW! and thanks for the historical perspective to back up your personal position. Much food for thought.

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bocaholly said

Don't take it too seriously, they love to see artists suffer out there and believe it has to be that way. My view is very different : I'm not to serve art -- music is to make me happy. 🙂

Hahaha, they expect everything and pay nothing. "Why don't you tap anymore?" Just throw enough money at me and I'll tap.

@Demoiselle 
Another WOW! and thanks for the historical perspective to back up your personal position. Much food for thought.  

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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bocaholly said
....."5 Minutes That will Make You Love Classical Music"" article in the New York times..   

The point now is that I missed the point yesterday. What makes "classical music" different from general bass (baroque) music and how could it possibly help me, to find more ways to express myself?

The best way to find out is to demonstrate, instead of talking much. First we have to consider, that we can't compare any kind of classical music to my solo sonata models (by Corelli, Biber, Handel, Bach etc.). We have to look at classical sonatas for just one solo violin. In my baroque period the violin is mainly accompanied by harpsichord or organ. In classical music it's mainly piano. So how does a classical piano back a classical violin? These are typical classical attitudes you hear all the time:

It starts with sort of lullaby concept (which will make me sleepy on the spot). People like Mozart wanted to break with the old (reliable and proven as I see it) general bass concept. Instead they focus on this quite infantile attitude. And as you cannot do that forever, they join something dramatic from the Opera: A C7 chord suddenly interrupts the lullaby figure. And as mannered obsessions love to be repeated, they do it again, this time introduced by a scale.

This way to accompany you hear throughout the classical period frequently and it was kept in the romantic period. First they put me to sleep, then they suddenly frighten me. I cannot work that way. I cannot improvise over these dull, childish figures which don't groove at all. Then they suddenly interrupt and irritate with extreme stuff which musically doesn't convince me: A long chord on C7 is not such a brilliant idea, that you have to emphasize it that way.

The so-called old masters of classical music invented a concept which made composing mandatory. The composer improvised, their musicians not anymore. They downright put obstacles into their works which prevent musicians from improvising -- just like the older Bach already wanted it: "Don't improvise, you just play my notes."

Well, I could certainly steal things out of classical and romantic piano parts, which were composed to back one solo violin within sonatas. But it would not inspire me at all. The steady harpsichord stuff, like I recorded from the same keyboard, is exactly right to keep me going on my violin. To check out various harmonic forms for improvisation.

Mozart's generation took away creativity from their musicians. And I don't accept that, because I have the same right to be creative like Mozart. But I don't want to adapt to his mannered style. I know why I went back to Handel almost 20 years ago (indeed in fall 1998!). Because the music of his time makes sense if you want to improvise in a style which isn't jazz.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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As the saying goes, @Demoiselle:
"An audio clip is worth a thousand words." 

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bocaholly said
As the saying goes, @Demoiselle:
"An audio clip is worth a thousand words."   

Oh, I like words too. Human intelligence comes from language. It's important to use it. (:

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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