Klarinet Archive - Posting 000473.txt from 2004/08
From: "dnleeson" <dnleeson@-----.net>
Subj: RE: [kl] Re: K. 581 performance practice
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 14:06:54 -0400
Your response does not generate an "expose of the depths of your
ignorance" in the slightest. What it does show is that you need
a better working vocabulary about who does what during
First improvisation is something that involves music that is not
explicitly specified in the composition, and there are two
completely unrelated technical aspects to it.
First, there is the matter of ornamentation, and that not your
provenance. It is the composer's provenance. He or she writes a
turn, a trill, a grace note (these things being ornaments), and
it is up to you to know what to do when you see them. Do you
start the trill on the upper note? How long should the grace
note be? etc. In effect, ornaments are composer generated
abbreviations and some of them are not clear to us today. For
example, Mozart used two forms of stacatto, the dot and
apostrophe. Exactly how we are to interpret the apostrophe
stacatto is not entirely clear, so that is an ornament for which
you are on shaky grounds. But you don't ornament. The composer
does, and you interpret his ornaments.
Second, there is the matter of invention, and that is your
provenance. When you invent melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic
changes to the notes written by the composer, that is invention.
You are now acting as a participant in the creative process. The
composer is not telling you what to do (though he is giving you
lots of hints), he is simply supplying an opportunity for you to
use his/her music to create something that was never done before
and probably will never be done again.
Now if you want to waste that opportunity by adding the melody of
"When the Saints Go Marchin In," be my guest, but you won't live
out the day. And if you want to use that opportunity to show how
many notes you can squeeze in between and two supplied by the
composer, I will give you a trumpet and suggest the Carnival of
Venice Fantasy as more to you tastes.
WHAT YOU DO TO CREATE GOOD IMPROVISATIONS IS ANOTHER MATTER
Ornamentation using symbols to describe what you are to play: the
Invention of material that adds to the performer's creation: the
This bit of wisdom is going to cost you a couple of pizzas.
From: Tim Roberts [mailto:timr@-----.com]
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 10:16 AM
Subject: RE: [kl] Re: K. 581 performance practice
On Sat, 14 Aug 2004 09:48:49 -0700, "dnleeson"
>Carbonare's playing is well-known to me, and his technique of
>playing the theme unornamented the first time round but changed
>and improvised upon the second time through is the most common
>approach to the problem of improvising. And it's not a bad one
>either because it gives the listener a chance to hear the music
>as written and then hear the music with additions created by the
>player. That is a perfectly acceotabke solution when you have
>music that is played once and then repeated once.
OK, now it's my turn to ask a naïve question that will expose the
of my ignorance and open me up to ridicule and calumny.
The word "improvisation" means many things today. When we talk
"improvising" in K.581, are we talking basically about decorating
transitions -- throwing in the occasional turn, mordent, and
gliss -- or
are we talking about inventing new melody and tossing in a chorus
"When the Saints Go Marching In"? 
I can imagine that an 18th Century performance of K.581 might
have been done by the equivalent of the Preservation Hall Jazz
included a lengthy bass solo, but wouldn't one be laughed off of
stage today for straying very far from the printed music?
1. Note to the humor-impaired: that's hyperbole.
- Tim Roberts, timr@-----.com
Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc.
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