Violin – Melinda Rice, Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dooley.
We’re still using the “Surfing” analogy to structure our improvisations — it’s turned out to be a really useful tool so far. In a nutshell, piano = water, violin melody = surfer.
For a long time I’ve looked for a way to reconcile my improvised and composed music — I’ve always looked at the two activities as things that serve very different purposes, and, for the most part anyway, I’ve kept them very separate from each other. It didn’t really help that a few (usually older, more experienced) composers seemed to have issues with people “making things up as they go along”, which encourages a lot of students to do these things behind their teacher’s back — something that I think myself and a lot of my friends have probably experienced in one way or another.
When I was younger, I improvised because I thought it was fun and kind of a cool thing that you could do with your friends and other musicians that you’ve encountered. But some people would seriously get really mad over the idea itself — something I’ve never really understood why — at least until fairly recently. For one, improvisation turns a lot of performers into composers, leading to an increase in competition within the already crowded space of musical composition. There’s also the idea that if performers could create music with a high amount of quality, in real-time, with little to no rehearsals, it would forever push the field into irrelevance and obscurity. With the honor and prestige of being a classical music composer having significantly waned in recent years, it would seem like improv would be a prime target for the old world to lay its blame.
But composition itself never dies — it just reinvents itself when pressed with new challenges and problems. We’re just in a transitional period now, with new ideas and styles emerging out of nowhere and everywhere. Not all of it is pretty, but I think it’s best to just accept it as it is, rather than clamoring up and resisting what’s going to be an inevitability anyway.
After doing some research over the last year or so, I’ve settled on the phrase “Neo-Baroque” as my style, aesthetic, marketing phrase, and elevator pitch of choice. I’ve always admired the form, technique, and counterpoint of Bach’s music, but his time period also coincides with a highly-unstable time period where improvised musics where also very common, even for those with classical music backgrounds. It seems somewhat schizophrenic to think that both were going on at the same time, but that was the reality of things back then and it seems poised to happen again in the years to come. The only thing that makes my music different is that it’s adapted toward contemporary issues, borrowing a few things from minimalism, jazz, and world musics…maybe with a little bit of my Japanese-American roots sprinkled in here and there.
Let’s run with this for a while and see what happens. There’s bound to be a few people out there who’ll get it.
This is a track collection for my new album, “Cloud Computing: Adventures in Music Entrepreneurship”, compiled as a YouTube playlist. These are mostly piano improvisations recorded from *within* the piano, which gives the listener an insider’s perspective of the musical and creative process. Each track is accompanied by a journal entry, as I’ve documented all of my efforts at trying to advance a type of music into the marketplace that’s largely considered an “avant-garde” style at this point in time — an ongoing story of the evolution of musical ideas as it comes in contact with the general public.
Listen to it here (YouTube Playlist):
Read more about it here:
Support the project here: