Classical Improvisation for Students (and Their Teachers) Robert O. Music in the Galant Style. New York:…

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  • Classical Improvisation for Students

    (and Their Teachers)

    John Mortensen, DMA, NCTM

    Steinway Artist & Ohio Artist on Tour

    Professor of Piano, Cedarville University

    Download the notes for this presentation at www.johnmortensen.com

    http://www.johnmortensen.com

  • WAYS TO IMPROVISE(FROM HARDEST

    TO EASIEST)

  • Fugue

    What is provided: A subject.

    What you have to make up: Exposition, Episodes,

    Modulations, Presentations.

  • Fugue

    The performer needs to create spontaneous invertible counterpoint, episodes, modulations, presentations in various voices, sequences, cadences, etc.

    Level: Highly Advanced.

  • The Dance Suite

    What is provided: A bass line.

    What you have to make up: Harmonies and stylistic elements of each dance.

  • Dance Suite

    The performer uses an established bass line to extrapolate harmonies, and then overlay the characteristic elements of each dance (meter, figurations, polyphonic motions, etc.

    Level: Advanced.

  • Toccata or Fantasia

    What is provided: A key.

    What you have to make up: Everything. But it can be very episodic and loose.

  • Toccata/Fantasia

    The performer must string together a series of stylistically appropriate elements, but may pause between each statement. The musical texture need not be seamless. Modulation is possible but not necessary.

    Level: Moderately Advanced.

  • Variations Chaconne Passacaglia

    What is provided: A looping progression.

    What you have to make up: Continuous new variations.

  • Variations/Chaconne/Passacaglia

    The performer must invent variations on an existing progression. Because the meter and harmony and provided, the performer is only responsible for surface elements such as texture, figuration, and ornamentation.

    Level: Moderate

  • The Figuration Prelude

    What is provided: The chords.

    What you have to make up: The pattern.

  • Figuration Prelude

    The performer is responsible to follow a given chord pattern and create consistent elaboration upon it. The performers only job is to create figuration.

    Level: Moderately easy.

  • The Unmeasured

    Arpeggio Prelude

    What is provided: The notes.

    What you have to make up: The pacing and rhetoric.

  • Unmeasured Arpeggio Prelude

    The performer can play only the written notes, but most imbue them with compelling rhetorical sweep and direction.

    Level: Easy.

  • Further Resources

    Erhardt, Martin. Upon a Ground - Improvisation on Ostinato Basses from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries. Magdeburg: Verlag Franz Biersack, 2013.

    Gjerdingen, Robert O. Music in the Galant Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    Mortensen, John. The Pianists Guide to Classical Improvisation. Forthcoming in 2018.

    Sanguinetti, Giorgio. The Art of Partimento: History, Theory, and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    www.johnmortensen.com

    http://www.johnmortensen.com