Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Modular Music

One of the many things I've learned working with the Friday Group/Kenwood Players is that any positive effects of short pieces (say 2 or 3 minutes) in performance are erased by the shuffling around before and after. So I'm trying to string together tunes that have similar tempi by putting them in the same, or closely related keys, and just conjoining them as Handel did some of his short pieces, just going from one to the other with no transition. 

The individual tunes are clearly marked with double bar lines at beginning and ending, with the title given over the first measure, so beginners can work on individual pieces before stringing them together.

What looks to be a fun aspect of all of this is that once the basic work of transposition and juxtaposition is done, then the players can jump from piece to piece in whatever order suits, not necessarily the way it's laid out on the page. As far as I'm concerned, anything that helps players see the written music a just a simple aid to playing, as opposed to a holy writ, will help them become better players in the long run. 

The other thing I'm aiming for in these little arrangements is that they will sound fine played as is, but they can also be used as stepping stones to improvisation. Lavishly detailed scores can be fun to dig into, but they can also feel way over-determined if they head into directions that don't appeal to the player(s). 

Seeing the player(s) as more important than the music means the scores are going to have a different purpose and are going to have a different look and feel.

photo - garden greens.

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