Improvising Compositions, Composing Improvisations

by Christos Barbas

Feb 1 - Feb 25
07:00 PM - 09:00 PM



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Improvising and composing are often seen as two distinct musical processes. Usually, improvisation is associated with orality, freedom, and spontaneity, while composition is associated with writing, structure, systematization and revision. Modal music systems can help us further expand the way we view composition and improvisation and the relationship between them. Here we are not dealing with structure vs freedom, but with a set of pre-composed building blocks. Everyone – the composer, improviser, student, and even the listener – use these building blocks with a varying degree of freedom to communicate musically.   In this course we will attempt to understand modality’s potential for enhancing creativity. We will look at what the live dimension of improvisation provides us with in the process of composition, and the reverse, learning how to animate and structure our improvisations with ideas coming from compositions. Approximately two thirds of the course will focus on the analysis of compositions, listening sessions, and transcriptions of recorded improvisations. We will begin by examining the structure of selected modal pieces, as a starting point for our own improvising and composing. The other third will have us apply this to our instruments, through in-depth practice of both composition and improvisation. Students will be expected to attempt a composition of their own, and improvise in class. The repertoire, modes, forms and rhythms will come from Ottoman classical, Greek folk and Balkan traditions.    Students should be comfortable with their instruments, so as to focus on the more musical aspects of the course as opposed to technique. They should either be experienced with improvisation, or have a strong will to integrate it into their creative process. This course highlights composition and improvisation in all aspects of music-making, so musicians from both modal and non-modal traditions that wish to deepen their understanding and enrich their performance are encouraged to join.

Student requirements:
Instrumental technique: any level
Western theory: intermediate
Modal music theory: intermediate
Sight reading: intermediate
Transposition: any level
Learning by ear: any level
Composition: intermediate
Improvisation: intermediate

Class Schedule

In case a class is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, one or more additional make-up classes will take place at the same time on the same weekdays following the last week of classes.

Feb 107:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 407:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 807:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 1107:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 1507:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 1807:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 2207:00 PM09:00 PM
Feb 2507:00 PM09:00 PM