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Importance Of Improvisation In Music Essay

776 words - 3 pages

The Importance of Improvisation in Music HistoryWhen one thinks of jazz, one's mind should immediately spring to 'improvisation.' It is a true characteristic of the jazz art form, but it truly is a rarity when seen in a historical context.Improvisation has been an integral part of music since the very beginning of music, and it hasbeen a very important element in Western Classical music for most of the past 1000 years.The following is a list of examples:a) When the single voice 'Plainsong' started to develop into the 2, 3 or 4 part'Organum' (during the mid Medieval Period 1000 - 1300) , one or more of the partswere also commonly improvised, weaving free counter lines around the written melodyline.b) Original score notations for Medieval organ music for example, commonly includeinstructions for improvisation and embellishments. Scales that were used wereselected according to the same improvisation principles now used in Jazz.c) Improvistional sections were often included in many classical scores. The preludes tokeyboard suites by Bach and Handel for example consisted solely of a progression of chords.The performers used these as basis for their improvisation (again : like in Jazz).In the scores of to day most of these progressions have been translated into full musicnotations by various editors.d) Later, during the Baroque - (1600 - 1750), Classical - (1750 - 1830), and Romantic -Periods (1830 - 1900) improvisation flourished, especially for keyboard players. J.S.Bach,Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and many other distinguished composersand virtuoso pianists, excelled in the art of improvisation, in those days called'extemporisation'.e) Liszt was a famous boy improvisor. At age 12 his concert in Manchester wasadvertised as 'An Extemporary Fantasie on the Pianoforte by Master Liszt, who willrespectfully request a written theme from any person present.' In 1895 Miss Marie Wurmgave a complete recital in London upon themes handed to her by members of the audience.Towards the beginning of this century, improvisation inexplicably disappeared from Classical performances, and Classical music as a whole has been totally dominated (and restricted) by the written score.I would argue that this has had a detrimental effect on the knowledge and understanding offundamental music principles by the majority of classical music students. Good improvisation skills rely on a thourough understanding and knowledge of chords,chord progressions and chord - scale relationships. The written score on the other...

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