Seattle's own Christian Pincock (trombone, composition, conduction, electronics), returns to the Racer Sessions this evening. He'll present a series of improvisations based on "classical themes and variations." Read below for some great insight into Christian's current reflections on improvisation and artistic process:
I will perform a selection of recent original compositions on solo valve trombone and electronics. In composing, I look for new techniques to combine trombone and computer, make interesting sounds and tell an engaging musical story. For many of these pieces, I use an organ pedalboard to play a second musical voice along with the trombone. I also have additional hardware including sensors attached to my trombone and custom computer software to produce a musical accompaniment to my trombone.
One idea I’ve been exploring lately is improvising within a classical theme and variations form. In particular, I’ve been playing jazz standards on solo trombone in this way. This treatment requires that the framework of the original melody is always present even when it sounds very far from the original. It’s been an exciting challenge for me to apply the rigor of this form to the open-endedness of improvisation. Some of the pieces I will play will be examples of this process.
I like to think of musical form as the story the piece is telling. For this session, I invite you to explore ideas of musical form as they relate to telling a narrative. Listed below are some ideas to try. I will suggest that each group who plays come up with a plan for their improvisation and then briefly check-in with each afterward to compare how it went and how having the plan guided the improvisation.
These ideas are meant to be prompts towards creating compelling improvised sound. Dutifully following the plan at all costs is not the goal if the result isn’t interesting. In other words, only use the plans as guidelines!
ABACADA… (rondo: constantly returning to one thing)
Theme and variations
Other formal ideas:
Many dissimilar sections
Constantly and steadily evolving
Two or more dissimilar ideas simultaneously
Two or more dissimilar ideas in alternation
Improvise telling a musical story about…
Your day today
A movie you saw recently
Play the form of a dance performance you saw
Keep in mind the length of the piece and the number of people involved
Choose to realize the chosen form either a group or as individuals (or switch while playing)
Be aware of your transitions between sections. Are they quick? Ambiguous? Gradual? Etc.
Define sections in a variety of ways. For example:
Individual texture (Range, register, timbre, density, volume)
Group texture (Orchestration, group density, collective tempo)"