Improvisation and the Modern Orchestral Musician. A Critical Analysis of the Performer’s Agency in the Contemporary Concert Hall
Sammanfattning: Improvisation is a critical skill for musicians across nearly all genres and eras, however, to themodern orchestral musician, it is mainly a lost art. A study into the history, techniques, andtraditions of improvisation details not only new ways to explore and develop performancepractice of the instrument itself but also to train the ears and sensibilities of a musician.Analyses of improvisatory traditions within Western classical music as well as in jazz andcontemporary music highlight the importance of several skills not often considered in formaltraining for orchestral musicians. These include: heightened awareness of harmony, moreintuitive communication between players and audience, increased mental and physical agility,and the ability to access flow and uncover one’s true voice. A more intuitive, skillful,conscientious, and expressive musician emerges from such studies.On a personal level, I want to approach classical music from new perspectives in order toregain my passion for music. After many years of institutionalized exploration of the Westerntradition, I have developed a very critical and sometimes close-minded approach to music.The aim of this research is to further develop my skills on the violin while gaining a deeperunderstanding of and appreciation for the performer’s individual voice and the agency as amusician to bring life to the music we play. Instead of directing my efforts on what anestablishment has more or less subjectively deemed as perfection, my goal in studyingimprovisation is to develop my own concept of sound quality, freedom of expression andinterpretation, as well as the ability to quickly understand a piece harmonically and to playintuitively in a group. This is a study in equipping an artist with the tools to bring unique,relevant, and meaningful ideas to many contexts.
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