Classical Improvisation as a Meeting Point of Structural Awareness, Playfulness and Spontaneity

David Dolan

Up until the late 19th century, extemporising was a natural part of Western art music-making. Audiences back then were expecting to be surprised when listening to a musical work even when they knew it well because the concert culture regarded the performer as a creator.
This workshop will open with an overview of improvisational concepts in western art-music and propose how to revive this mode of music-making, both in solo and ensemble contexts.
During the workshop, we will combine the use of know-how (structural, stylistic, textural, and harmonic awareness — some of it often unconscious) with real-time flow, playfulness & spontaneity, and fun! Active listening, awareness of emotional expression, and communication are also on the menu. We will introduce introductory exercises for improvising in classical & baroque stylistic languages as well as tonally free. We will then move to work on your chosen repertoire by searching for their harmonic/structural reductions and elaborating those reductions through extemporisations towards one’s interpretation of the actual score. Improvised repeats, preludes, and interludes, as well as fermata points and principles of cadenzas, will also be introduced.”

Active participation: all instrumentalists; passive participation: composers
Intensity level: 2