Your thoughts on musical improvisation

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Lawrence Lanahan

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Jun 13, 2001, 9:21:18 PM6/13/01
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Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
place?

What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.
You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
will be held strictly confidential.

Thanks!
Lawrence Lanahan
impro...@yahoo.com

David McKay

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Jun 13, 2001, 9:56:09 PM6/13/01
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Improvising can be fun for the participant, but boring for the audience, I
think.
I think this is why some people relate it to masturbation.

I reckon a little improvising goes a long way.
David McKay
http://members.ozemail.com.au/~musicke


paramucho

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Jun 13, 2001, 10:05:42 PM6/13/01
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On 13 Jun 2001 18:21:18 -0700, impro...@yahoo.com (Lawrence
Lanahan) wrote:

>Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

I like improvisation when it is constrained to short sections or minor
elements, or when it is done very well -- and that happens very rarely
in the Western world. I can think of only three people who have given
me the feeling that they were able to directly express their fancy and
their fantasy (Fats Waller, Jimi Hendrix and the African pianist
Dollar Brand), although I'm sure there are others that I haven't
heard.

Most people just run up and down scales, and that drives me nuts, no
matter how well they do it.

>Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

I largely improvise at home, but that's just because I tend to noodle
at the keyboard on guitar while I'm thinking of other things. I like
it because it's immediately accessible. I dislike it as a performance
art because of the reasons given above.

These days I usually find myself playing quasi-baroque sounding
things, although recently I've found myself trying to improvise pieces
in sonata form -- I find it very difficult and the pieces are usually
pretty bland. That brings up my major objection to improvisation as a
stand-alone art -- the "form" of an improvisation is usually based on
an utterly predictable recipe. The three people I mentioned above
somehow escape that restriction. In his solo improvisations, Fats
Waller simply launches off into his own world. Jimi Hendrix has a
neutral backing which allows his fancy to flow.

>If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
>place?

Playing in bands as a kid, playing some (psuedo) jazz, and because I
tend to write at the keyboard, so extemporisation is a natural.

>What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Little, but it does help me explore ideas quickly and broadly. On a
good day, or a very, very bad day, I can really capture my mood in an
improvisation. I love the ephemeral nature of an improvisation -- that
once played, its forgotten and gone.

Ian

Nicholas Delonas

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Jun 13, 2001, 10:10:39 PM6/13/01
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[This followup was posted to rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz and a copy was
sent to the cited author.]

In article <1ea476ef.01061...@posting.google.com>,
impro...@yahoo.com says...


> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

I like it.

> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

There is no "why."

> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

I think it was by way of Eric Clapton and Cream.

> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Life is likely a meaningless accident and all human effort is mere
vanity. Music, though, is rather fun.

--

Nick Delonas

My band: http://ironia.net
My cult: http://cultv.com

Bob

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Jun 13, 2001, 10:28:04 PM6/13/01
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On Wed, 13 Jun 2001 22:10:39 -0400, Nicholas Delonas
<del...@cultv.com> wrote:

>Life is likely a meaningless accident and all human effort is mere
>vanity.

Aha!

A Lucid Man. You don't find many of those around any more.

>Music, though, is rather fun.

Then life is not so meaningless after all.

Existentialists find Absurdity in life because they are looking for
it. If you spend your entire life staring at a turd, then you will
conclude that life is nothing but a piece of shit.

There is another approach to life, and that is to avoid absurdity.
Shit stinks for a good reason. But then there is no accounting for the
incredible poor taste of most of the human race. So enjoy your shit.

For the rest of us, we are going to enjoy our music. It smells better.

Bob

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
--Benjamin Franklin

Andrew Lee

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Jun 13, 2001, 11:50:26 PM6/13/01
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On 13 Jun 2001 18:21:18 -0700, impro...@yahoo.com (Lawrence
Lanahan) wrote:

>Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Depends. As was mentioned here, sometimes improv is just wanking.
But sometimes it is done well.

>
>Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?
>

I really don't like hearing the same tune done the same way again and
again. Also, I really enjoy hearing a good solo .... Take Ella
Fitzgerald ... the way she could turn a tune inside out was just
brilliant! I doubt there is a singer alive who could touch that level
of vocal improvisation.

>If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
>place?
>

Listening to rock music from the 60's ... Jimi Hendix, Eric Clapton,
Jeff Beck, Paul Butterfield, etc

>What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?
>

I think a lot of human interaction in this society is impovised.
Conversation, humor, flirting, dancing, what you say to the judge in
Podunk after you got arrested for public intoxication ....

>I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
>improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.
>You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
>e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
>will be held strictly confidential.
>
>Thanks!
>Lawrence Lanahan
>impro...@yahoo.com

Here's a thought -- try to talk to very serious Jazz musicians about
something as common as the weather and watch them squirm. People who
are full of ideas (or themselves) are not comfortable with cookie
cutter conversation. I had the honor of meeting Dizzy Gillespie once.
There was no way he could just stand there and sign autographs and not
turn it into this funny game.

kaetae

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Jun 14, 2001, 12:30:24 AM6/14/01
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Lawrence Lanahan wrote:

> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

I do because I am a musician and I try to understand what they are
playing and why.

>
>
> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

Again because I am a musician I enjoy playing what I feel rather than
playing the written notes all the time. But this depends on the music
being played. Some music should be played exactly as written to
recreate the composers feelings.

>
>
> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

I have enjoyed improvisation from the first day I played a piano at age
5.
I suppose that I just enjoyed playing what I felt.

>

>
> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Never thought of it that way. But I never really followed all the rules
to life.
Maybe sometimes it's more fun to break some rules.

Pt

Nordwell, Kurt [NC1:GW22:EXCH]

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Jun 14, 2001, 9:24:24 AM6/14/01
to impro...@yahoo.com
Lawrence Lanahan wrote:
>
> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Yes.

>
> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

I like performance variance. I like surprises.

>
> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

Frank Zappa. New recordings of older material were different. Performances
from the same year had variations in content, delivery, and composition.

>
> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Improvisation implies more than one way to achieve a musical end. Not all
improv results in a satisfactory result. Variation in approach can be applied
to all aspects of life - running a different trail, cooking, work, travel, etc.

Luke Kaven

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Jun 14, 2001, 11:49:36 AM6/14/01
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This is yet another misreading of existentialism. Absurdism as deployed in
existentialist literature in itself is supposed to be a *reductio ad
absurdam* -- it is supposed to motivate commitment, not apathy.
Existentialism is a form of humanism, not a denial of it. Read Sartre's
"Existentialism is Humanism" for his attempt to answer to misreadings of his
work.

Bob <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message
news:3b281f89...@news-server.houston.rr.com...


> On Wed, 13 Jun 2001 22:10:39 -0400, Nicholas Delonas
> <del...@cultv.com> wrote:

[...]

you...@net.com

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Jun 15, 2001, 4:03:08 AM6/15/01
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Existentialism has a wide range of meanings, and can include thinkers as
diverse as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, and a host of
epigones. Camus' Stranger (L'Etranger) would fit fairly well into the
negative meaning of Existentialism; as would Sartre's own Roquentin from
Nausea. Any philosophy can be used in opposed ways. I'm not really
taking sides here; I just felt like posting something on this topic. I
think your point is correct; however, the absurdist and quiescent
aspects of Existentialism were definitely a part of that movement, even
if it was not specifically stated in those terms by Sartre in his main
Existentialist text, Being and Nothingness. The title itself reveals
some polemical idea of absurdity (Satre might have called his tome,
"Being and Commitment" instead). Also, Sartre never wrote, at that
time, "Man is a useful passion," but "Man is a useless passion." Again,
there's a polemical absurdist subtext there that can not easily be
gainsaid. True, there were more humanist Existentialists, even
religious Existentialists (Kierkegaard, as I mentioned above, among
others). But there was definitely a darker shade to the movement, right
down to the Beatniks, who fused it with other, Eastern elements; and
Pinter and Albee, among others. The humanism of Albee, like that of
Sartre, emerged much later; and Sartre really had to adopt Marxism to
fully realize his brand of secular and materialist humanism in the
collective. Perhaps when all is said and done, to paraphrase, and pun
on, Sartre: Man is a useless fashion.

Bob

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Jun 14, 2001, 5:18:04 PM6/14/01
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On Thu, 14 Jun 2001 11:49:36 -0400, "Luke Kaven"
<ka...@rci.rutgers.edu> wrote:

>This is yet another misreading of existentialism.

It is a reading of Camus' Myth of Sisyphus.

There are those who claim, including Camus himself, that Camus is not
an existentialist. That is likely correct if you are thinking of
Kirkegaardian existentialism. But if you are thinking of Sartrean
Phenomenological Psychoanalysis as French Existentialism, then Camus
certainly fits in to that description.

>Absurdism as deployed in
>existentialist literature in itself is supposed to be a *reductio ad
>absurdam* -- it is supposed to motivate commitment, not apathy.
>Existentialism is a form of humanism, not a denial of it. Read Sartre's
>"Existentialism is Humanism" for his attempt to answer to misreadings of his
>work.

Sorry, but that is all just atheistic nihilism.

Al

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Jun 14, 2001, 6:26:51 PM6/14/01
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> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

tricky question. To answer that I have to split off improvisation into
two distinct sects:
1) Sh*t
2) awesome expression of personal feeling in response to music

1) Sh*t improvisation is generally egotistical, technically proficient
but musically crap, and generally just two damn self centred. This type
of improvisation I don't enjoy because it is not music in the sense that
it is not self expression.

2) nuff said... this is the stuff which is beautiful, the stuff that
comes from the soul, from the humanity, and most of all from the music.
You don't get it very often, but when you do, it is the most beautiful
thing you hear.


>
> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

too much crap... that said you have to do a lot of crap impro before you
can interface sufficiently well with the instrument to produce good
impro. Real impro is something I love because a musician is sharing a
little part of themselves with me, and I feel honoured to experience
that with them.


>
> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

I'm still at the crap stage apart from one or two moments when I've got
up from the piano bench physically emotionally echausted by the music I
have just created because I was doing "true" impro. I got into it
through playing the piano without music, playing what comes straight
into my head, interfacing with the instrument not a sheet of music... if
that makes any sense...


>
> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

i use it generally as a stress reliever, or just for pure pleasure... I
also use it when my brain's not in use, I impro in my head, that's where
I source my song ideas, getting something in my head, trying to recreate
that on the keyboard and liking the resultant fusion of my thoughts and
my attempts to interface with the keyboard... or something... what are
these drugs they put me on? ;-p


>
> I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
> improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.

the internet has made it far too easy for students ;-) now you can stay
permanently drunk :( oh well.. that'll be me in 2 years :)

> You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
> e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
> will be held strictly confidential.

is it *that* hard to check the newsgroups?

Al

Adam Bravo

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Jun 15, 2001, 12:01:02 AM6/15/01
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Jazz is all I listen to. If there is no improvisation, most music (not all)
tends to be hung up on on motif that gets really boring after a while.

Of course, there is nothing worse than a bad improvser, but I don't listen
to them.

"Lawrence Lanahan" <impro...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1ea476ef.01061...@posting.google.com...

john.fryer

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Jun 15, 2001, 1:10:56 AM6/15/01
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These are questions at Master's level?
* No mention of the nature of the improvisation;
* Liking or disliking are subjective responses which are prone to change
in various environments and according to the temperament of the
listener/participant;
* What is meant by "larger meaning" is unclear.
That's just a few responses OTTOMH.

Marcel-Franck Simon

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Jun 14, 2001, 8:50:15 AM6/14/01
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Lawrence Lanahan (impro...@yahoo.com) wrote:
: Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Improvisation is not important, a distinct, well-defined musical
personality is. Multiple cookie-cutter-similar improvisers are very
boring, a sharply defined non- or rarely-improvising musical
personality (late Ben Webster, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson
[and her pianist Mildred Falls], Yo-Yo Ma, ...) is pure pleasure.
An improvising sharply defined musical personality (Coltrane, Mingus,
Davis, ...) is beyond like or dislike, it's mainlined pleasure.

: Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

See above.

: If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
: place?

The usual rock'n'roll guitar heroes, veering off into blues masters,
introduced to jazz through a revelatory college course, 20 years
and counting spent investigating Great Black Music, have led me to
the above conclusions.

: What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Most people live lives of quiet desperation. With religion, Music is
the pleasure antidote to existential despair that is physically and
spiritually healthy, unlike most/all forms of hedonism or other
pleasure-seeking lifestyles. I believe the only true "sin" is to
refuse joy, and I find music to be mainlined joy.

: I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical


: improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.
: You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
: e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
: will be held strictly confidential.

Hope this helps.

--
Marcel-Franck Simon Hewlett Packard
"Papa Loko, ou se' van, wa pouse'-n ale' Florham Park, NJ
Nou se' papiyon, n'a pote' nouvel bay Agwe'" min...@fpk.hp.com

the rmb troll faq is at http://liquid2k.net/rmbtroll. spread the word!

Bob

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Jun 15, 2001, 8:29:24 AM6/15/01
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On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 04:01:02 GMT, "Adam Bravo" <mra...@home.com>
wrote:

>Jazz is all I listen to. If there is no improvisation, most music (not all)
>tends to be hung up on on motif that gets really boring after a while.

>Of course, there is nothing worse than a bad improvser, but I don't listen
>to them.

If you ever want to explore other musical forms, then I suggest
listening to Franz Liszt's piano transcriptions of Beethoven's
symphonies. I would also include many of his Hungarian Rhapsodies and
some of his poetic symphonies, in particular Don Juan. I believe most
of these are still on Napster.

Although Liszt cannot be characterized as a true jazz performer, he
does incorporate many of the elements of jazz into his works in subtle
ways. What is lacking is the African influence which distinguishes
jazz from other kinds of music., althjough he comes close to
incorporating syncopation in a jazz-like manner.

If Liszt had picked up on African music, I can imagine that he would
have been an inventor of jazz in the sense of a precursor of the whole
jazz movement in the 19th century.

As Gunther Schuller, in his book "Early Jazz", points out, jazz music
is the unique integration of African rhythmic structures and European
(classical) harmonic structures, so it is not at all unexpected to
discover some of the precursors to jazz already present in the
Romantic music of the 19th C.

Debussy is another Romantic artist who anticipated jazz to some
extent. Keith Jarrett, for example, is said to have incorporated some
of Debussy's style of composition into his. If you listen carefully to
the Koln Concert, you will swear that there are Debussy constructs
present, albeit in very subtle form.

My point is that if you love jazz you will also love certain classical
music, for after all, classical music is one of the two major musical
forms that went into the making of jazz.

Jon Riley

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Jun 15, 2001, 9:32:11 AM6/15/01
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Lawrence Lanahan <impro...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1ea476ef.01061...@posting.google.com...
> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Like.

> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

It's fundamental. Music without improvisation holds very little appeal
for me.

> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

Blues, folk and jazz (listening and playing).

> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

As I understand it, improvisation is and was an essential part of all
forms of music, world-wide and throughout history - with the bizarre
exception of the European classical tradition of the last 200 years or
so.
It's more interesting IMO to ask why that culture should have sought
to outlaw improvisation, rather than approach it as if were some
optional add-on.

Of course, it's a subtle art, and demands perfect knowledge of the
forms and rules of the genre in which you're improvising. Good
improvisation, in any kind of music, is an interplay between the given
(the understood) and the possible. "I hear that - but what if this..."

> I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
> improvisation

If you haven't already, I suggest you read some of Christopher Small's
work, either "Music of the Common Tongue", or "Musicking". He deals
with the social functions of music, particularly the roles of
improvisation and of audiences.

JonR

Josh Dougherty

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Jun 15, 2001, 2:04:49 PM6/15/01
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"Jon Riley" <j...@jonriley.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message
news:9gd2mm$3gm$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk...

> As I understand it, improvisation is and was an essential part of all
> forms of music, world-wide and throughout history - with the bizarre
> exception of the European classical tradition of the last 200 years or
> so.
> It's more interesting IMO to ask why that culture should have sought
> to outlaw improvisation, rather than approach it as if were some
> optional add-on.
>
I think this has something to do with the fact that European classical music
developed into strictly a *composer's* music first and foremost. This
became more and more the case as years went on. Composers became
increasingly more serious about the finer details of their music and the
musicians themselves became more interested in reproducing the composer's
"intent" in the compositions. Also, I think composers tend to be into
control and became less and less likely to allow *their* music, or parts of
*their* music to be left up to the discretion of whoever happened to be
playing it. There is a subtlety and a coherence of individuality that can
come from strict composition, and this can produce music that is unlike
anything that may be left up to improvisation. The same is true of
improvisation. No amount of diligent composition will ever produce the same
result as a great jazz improvisation. Certain elements can come out of each
that don't tend to appear naturally in the other.

Josh


Stephen Lavele

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Jun 15, 2001, 5:21:06 PM6/15/01
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hi
I think that the most difficult thing to do when improvising is to remember
the themes that I played and repeat them. I came across a cool technique
though, which involves recording lots of small snippits of piano
improvisation and messing with them (well, more complex than just messing,
but you sould get the idea), and then I can repeat and mix themes as much as
I like.

I know that that isn't "proper" improvisation, but it can produce some
amazing results (almost everyone seems to sound like a variation on one of
Debussy's Arabesques, but that's down to my style). And in addition to
that, i think that it is genuinely usefull for brainstorming melodies (just
record a right-hand improv, a left-hand one, and play them back over
eachother. You get a result just like a "both-hand" imrov, only it's much
easier : ) ).

Sorry for getting off track, but that's how I both improvise and compose.

As for what I think of improvisation? It depends completely on the skill
and style of the performer. Variations on themes can sound very nice, but
wild scales and mad chords can, more often than not, sound very boring.

Still, it's fun for the performer, and that's all that counts : )

-Stephen Lavelle aka Adiamante aka Erde-

-Stephen-

Steven D. Harris

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Jun 15, 2001, 5:29:21 PM6/15/01
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piss-ant nihilists...take it somewhere else, would you!

Stephen Lavele

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Jun 15, 2001, 6:42:44 PM6/15/01
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>I believe the only true "sin" is to
>refuse joy, and I find music to be mainlined joy.

funny, that's the main belief of modern satinists (quite a fun seeming bunch
of people until you examine their work more closely) : )

Stephen Lavele

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Jun 15, 2001, 6:47:08 PM6/15/01
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I have to say that to a large extent, Debussy music (his "proper",
true-to-self impressionist style stuff (like "Estampes")) sounds improvised
on every level, and really is very penetrating and introspective stuff

Bob <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message
news:3b29feeb...@news-server.houston.rr.com...

Bob

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Jun 15, 2001, 7:46:35 PM6/15/01
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On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 14:29:21 -0700, "Steven D. Harris"
<sha...@noyuckinmybox.nullspace.com> wrote:

>piss-ant nihilists...take it somewhere else, would you!

They don't have anywhere to go. That's why they have to pester us.

Bob

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty -
nothing will preserve it but downright force.
Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined."
--Patrick Henry

Bob

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Jun 15, 2001, 9:39:25 PM6/15/01
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On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 23:47:08 +0100, "Stephen Lavele" <er...@eircom.net>
wrote:

>I have to say that to a large extent, Debussy music (his "proper",
>true-to-self impressionist style stuff (like "Estampes")) sounds improvised

>on every level, and really is very penetrating and introspective stuff.

Thank you for confirming what I have always believed.

There are clear instances of syncopation in his works, e.g.,
Golliwog's Cakewalk. He had to have been exposed to African music.

Just as African music was trying to accomodate classical music, I
believe classical music was trying to accomodate African music. They
met somewhere in the middle and the result is what we call jazz.

paramucho

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Jun 15, 2001, 10:45:19 PM6/15/01
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On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 01:39:25 GMT, r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote:

>On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 23:47:08 +0100, "Stephen Lavele" <er...@eircom.net>
>wrote:
>
>>I have to say that to a large extent, Debussy music (his "proper",
>>true-to-self impressionist style stuff (like "Estampes")) sounds improvised
>>on every level, and really is very penetrating and introspective stuff.
>
>Thank you for confirming what I have always believed.
>
>There are clear instances of syncopation in his works, e.g.,
>Golliwog's Cakewalk. He had to have been exposed to African music.

African music, or American adaptations of African music? A "Cakewalk"
is an American idiom, I believe.


Ian

Top Catt

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Jun 15, 2001, 11:39:17 PM6/15/01
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Mine are always changing, I suppose (in an improvisational way). I used
to play mainly acoustic instruments--piano, alto sax, and drums--but
lately I've been exploring MIDI instruments, and I kind of like the
results, even though I only sort of half-know what I'm doing (which is
part of the fun). Sampling is a remarkably flexible medium; if you like,
you can compose a piece for barrel organ, sampled sax notes from your
favorite jazz soloists, a choice yowl from your house cat, and brake
drums.

John Cage did something along these lines back in the 40's, but he had to
use *actual* brake drums...

There's still nothing like a fine acoustic piano for "touch," though.
With wood and strings, your music becomes "tactile" in a way that
electronic instruments haven't learned to convey yet.

T.C.

Adam Bravo

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Jun 16, 2001, 12:10:50 AM6/16/01
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Strange you should mention Liszt, because after Chopin, he's my favorite
classical composer. After Liszt, it's Debussy.

What don't you know about me?

"Bob" <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message
news:3b29feeb...@news-server.houston.rr.com...

Bob Russell

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Jun 16, 2001, 12:44:48 AM6/16/01
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in article r1xW6.8442$Fk7....@news.indigo.ie, Stephen Lavele at
er...@eircom.net wrote on 6/15/01 6:42 PM:

> funny, that's the main belief of modern satinists (quite a fun seeming bunch
> of people until you examine their work more closely) : )

Yeah, you gotta watch those "satinists", especially when they whip out those
dolls with the cigarette holders...
-- Bob R.


Jim Curtis

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Jun 16, 2001, 12:56:28 AM6/16/01
to

David McKay <mus...@ozemail.com.au> wrote in message
news:NNUV6.4355$qJ4.1...@ozemail.com.au...
> Improvising can be fun for the participant, but boring for the audience, I
> think.
> I think this is why some people relate it to masturbation.

Only a jack'off would say that. I spose it's to do an impression of someone
jacking off to do otherwise.

Luke Kaven

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Jun 16, 2001, 1:17:36 AM6/16/01
to
I think this plus the mean-spirited email you sent me earlier today are
disproportionately harsh -- more in the way of personal violation than
anything we did in our innocent sidebar thread.

Steven D. Harris <sha...@noyuckinmybox.nullspace.com> wrote in message
news:3B2A7E31...@noyuckinmybox.nullspace.com...

Jon Parker

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Jun 16, 2001, 1:31:04 AM6/16/01
to
"David McKay" wrote...

> Improvising can be fun for the participant, but boring for the audience, I
> think.

I think this depends on the audience.

With a good group (and I mean the improvisation isn't bad):

1) A room full of blue collar B flatters call it noise.

2) A room full of upper middle class to upper class B flatters will spend
lots of money to hire a jazz group, or go to a bar and pay extraordinary
prices to pretend to listen to one but they are really trying to score at
the end of the night.

3) A room full of broke jazz musicians call it music and love it.

In Denver, we don't have the biggest or best jazz scene, but it is there.
We have hot spots in town like LoDo (lower downtown) where just about every
bar or restaurant has live jazz at least on the weekends, with many that
employ jazz musicians every night of the week. When a big act comes to town
(Roy Haynes or Herbie Hancock for instance) the room is full of local jazz
musicians. So many in fact that I often wonder how all the gigs get played
on these nights.

--
Jon Parker
Jazz Pianist and Tubist
Piano Instructor, Denver Musician's Institute
Denver Colorado USA
Read the FAQ http://www.ptg.org/rmmp/
--


Jon Parker

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Jun 16, 2001, 1:38:27 AM6/16/01
to
"Lawrence Lanahan" wrote...

> Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

Like just about everyone else, it depends on the group. I don't like the
Grateful Dead, but I like Chick Corea. The improvisation needs to be up to
a certain level for me to like it. There is a lot of jazz that I dislike
because it just isn't any good.


> Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

See above for part of this question. If the improvisers are just running up
and down pentatonic scales it gets boring. When good sonorities are used
with creative lines it is fun to listen to.


> If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first
> place?

I started playing by ear at a very young age. I was always into improvised
music, but it really hit me when I was around 11 years old. That is when I
started listening to a lot of jazz and decided I wanted to be a jazz
pianist.


> What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Karma dude, Karma.


> I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
> improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.
> You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
> e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
> will be held strictly confidential.

Ok, if I give you the answers and you are keeping them confidential, then
how are you supposed to use them in your thesis?

Top Catt

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:02:32 AM6/16/01
to
In article <e%AW6.31109$0e3.29...@news1.rsm1.occa.home.com>,
mra...@home.com says...

> Strange you should mention Liszt, because after Chopin, he's my favorite
> classical composer. After Liszt, it's Debussy.
>
> What don't you know about me?

Everything, since you've got an un-Liszted number (rim shot).

T.C.

thomas

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:17:32 AM6/16/01
to
r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote in message news:<3b2ab727...@news-server.houston.rr.com>...

> On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 23:47:08 +0100, "Stephen Lavele" <er...@eircom.net>
> wrote:
>
> >I have to say that to a large extent, Debussy music (his "proper",
> >true-to-self impressionist style stuff (like "Estampes")) sounds improvised
> >on every level, and really is very penetrating and introspective stuff.
>
> Thank you for confirming what I have always believed.
>
> There are clear instances of syncopation in his works, e.g.,
> Golliwog's Cakewalk. He had to have been exposed to African music.

> Just as African music was trying to accomodate classical music, I
> believe classical music was trying to accomodate African music. They
> met somewhere in the middle and the result is what we call jazz.

This is one of the most bizarre conceptions of jazz history I've ever
heard. Could you elaborate or give some examples?

Also, the influence you're hearing in Debussy is from American
ragtime, not African music. Debussy was very interested in Indonesian
music, and would probably have been interested in African music if he
had ever heard any. But the cakewalk is taken from an American idiom.

you...@net.com

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Jun 16, 2001, 7:40:33 PM6/16/01
to

Not really that strange, making allowances for difference of
expression.
1. Classical music almost certainly influenced jazz from its
inception. Many proto-jazz numbers are really marches or derived from
Anglo-European marche tunes. Opera was at least as pervasive in New
Orleans jazz as was the blues. Bechet, for example, speaks of his
familiarity with the more famous opera numbers in his autobiogaphy; and
he incorporates one opera melody in I HAD IT BUT IT'S ALL GONE NOW.
2. The reference to "African" music is of course presumably a
reference to the African form of music disseminated in the Afro-American
tradiiton. This is an acceptable rhetorical trope by any stretch of the
linguistic imagination. I think one is taking greater liberties with
language saying that the cakewalk is NOT African than saying it IS.
3. As is well known, jazz, properly speaking, is a fusion of African
rhythms and rhythmic accents with European harmony. The variation
method itself is more familiar in the concert or so-called "classical"
tradition of Anglo-European music than in other forms. Hence to cite
the concert tradition as a significant influence in jazz improvs is not
an outrageous hyperbole by any means. True, there were doubtless other
influences, chief among which are the blues and, later, more syncopated
pop tunes. I've already mentioned march tunes, which must have been a
significant influence on early Orleans musicians.

Dr.Matt

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Jun 16, 2001, 6:37:19 AM6/16/01
to
In article <B7505C7F.998A%bobrus...@hotmail.com>,


I saw a painting of Elvis on satin once.

--
Matthew H. Fields http://www-personal.umich.edu/~fields
"Is there a theorbo in the house?"

robertandrews

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Jun 16, 2001, 6:56:45 AM6/16/01
to
"Bob" <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote:
>There is another approach to life, and that is to avoid absurdity.

I don't mean to shove it in your face, but that's absurd.

robertandrews

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Jun 16, 2001, 7:24:01 AM6/16/01
to
"Lawrence Lanahan" <impro...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Do you like or dislike musical groups that improvise a great deal?

All music played by people & animals is "improvised." Even the wind is
improvised. It would help if you could describe what you mean by
improvisation.

>Why do you like (or dislike) improvisation?

It beats computer loops.

>If you enjoy improvisation, how did you get into it in the first place?

It's a way of feeling free, expressing my emotions & challenging my
intellect.

>What larger meaning does it have for your life outside of the music?

Music is a big part of my life.

>I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.

There are various approaches to music, from those who play each note on the
page, to those who (seemingly?) play without any structure at all. I don't
know what you mean by social aspects of improvisation, as opposed to the
social aspects of musicians playing together or playing for an audience.


Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 8:28:20 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 02:45:19 GMT, i...@beathoven.com (paramucho) wrote:

>African music, or American adaptations of African music?

Yes, see Gunther Schuller, "Early Jazz".

>A "Cakewalk" is an American idiom, I believe.

Yes, it came from the minstrel shows IIRC.

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 8:38:40 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 04:10:50 GMT, "Adam Bravo" <mra...@home.com>
wrote:

>Strange you should mention Liszt, because after Chopin, he's my favorite


>classical composer. After Liszt, it's Debussy.

I used to like Chopin but after Liszt and Debussy, he is a bit too
classical. Otherwise, I rank them Liszt, Debussy, Chopin.

There are several biographies of Liszt on the Internet which are quite
expressive about his life. For example, Wagner married his daughter.
Liszt himself never mind that Liszt never married.

He was the heart-throb of European musical circles. His performances
were always "sold out". He would leave his handkerchief behind on the
piano to watch the women fight over it.

But the thing that blows my mind is that he had three pianos on stage,
because he would break two of them during the performance.

Of all his works, I rate the Beethoven transcriptions highest and
selected Hungarian Rhapsodies second. My favorites are
1,2,3,4,6,9,12,14,15,19. Most are composed from gypsy music but 15 is
stolen straight from Berloiz's Damnation of Faust.

The poetic symphony Don Juan is also a favorite.

>What don't you know about me?

Whether you think Miles Davis is the greatest jazz artist of all time.

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 8:43:37 AM6/16/01
to
On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 23:38:27 -0600, "Jon Parker"
<NOjonathon_p...@ORhotmail.comSPAM> wrote:

>> I am writing a master's thesis on the social aspects of musical
>> improvisation, and I'd like to hear your answers to these questions.
>> You can post a reply here, but I'd appreciate it if you could also
>> e-mail your thoughts to impro...@yahoo.com. All correspondence
>> will be held strictly confidential.

>Ok, if I give you the answers and you are keeping them confidential, then
>how are you supposed to use them in your thesis?

Haven't you ever heard of plagiarism?

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 8:51:27 AM6/16/01
to
On 16 Jun 2001 00:17:32 -0700, tomb...@jhu.edu (thomas) wrote:

>This is one of the most bizarre conceptions of jazz history I've ever
>heard. Could you elaborate or give some examples?

The only reason you consider what I wrote bizzare is that you have
been brainwashed into thinking incorrectly. Obviously you have not
read Gunther Schuller's classic book, "Early Jazz".

But don't feel bad - brainwashing is all pervasive. For example, most
of the world still believes that Abraham Lincoln fought the War Of
Northern Aggression to emancipate the slaves. What a blatant lie.

>Also, the influence you're hearing in Debussy is from American
>ragtime, not African music.

Ragtime is taken from jazz, which is taken from African music.
Therefore ragtime has its roots in African music. Schuller clears all
this up.

>Debussy was very interested in Indonesian
>music, and would probably have been interested in African music if he
>had ever heard any.

Jazz was very popular in Europe by the time Debussy came on the scene.
It would have been impossible for him not to hear it.

>But the cakewalk is taken from an American idiom.

Cakewalk is taken from Negro minstrel shows IIRC.


Bob

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty -
nothing will preserve it but downright force.

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 8:53:40 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 10:56:45 GMT, "robertandrews"
<robert...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>>There is another approach to life, and that is to avoid absurdity.

>I don't mean to shove it in your face, but that's absurd.

Then avoid it.

Michael Fitzgerald

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Jun 16, 2001, 11:24:45 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 12:51:27 GMT, r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote:
>On 16 Jun 2001 00:17:32 -0700, tomb...@jhu.edu (thomas) wrote:
>>This is one of the most bizarre conceptions of jazz history I've ever
>>heard. Could you elaborate or give some examples?
>
>The only reason you consider what I wrote bizzare is that you have
>been brainwashed into thinking incorrectly. Obviously you have not
>read Gunther Schuller's classic book, "Early Jazz".

And you seem to have read it with absolutely no knowledge of the
subject nor of the terms and genres it discusses. You misunderstand
and twist the words to create - one of the most bizarre conceptions of
jazz history I've ever heard. Yes, I completely agree with Mr. Brown.

>Ragtime is taken from jazz, which is taken from African music.
>Therefore ragtime has its roots in African music. Schuller clears all
>this up.

So now ragtime is taken from jazz. Interesting.

>Jazz was very popular in Europe by the time Debussy came on the scene.
>It would have been impossible for him not to hear it.

What evidence do you have that jazz was "popular in Europe by the time
Debussy came on the scene"??

Debussy was born in 1862, died in 1918 (one year after the first jazz
recordings were made). He was writing great pieces like "Afternoon of
a Faun" in 1894.

What jazz was he hearing then?

Mike

fitz...@eclipse.net
http://www.eclipse.net/~fitzgera

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 11:25:26 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 11:24:45 -0400, Michael Fitzgerald
<fitz...@eclipse.net> wrote:

>And you seem to have read it with absolutely no knowledge of the
>subject nor of the terms and genres it discusses. You misunderstand
>and twist the words to create - one of the most bizarre conceptions of
>jazz history I've ever heard. Yes, I completely agree with Mr. Brown.

You need to read Schuller's book before you go running off at the
mouth. Everything I have commented on here I took verbatim from his
book.

>So now ragtime is taken from jazz. Interesting.

That's what Schuller says. Whether he is correct is another matter.

Here are some excerpts from Schuller:

"The blues structure, like ragtime, was an admixture of African
influence (the call-and-response pattern) and European harmonically
derived functional form." --p. 38

"In other parts of Feather's chapter, jazz is frequently equated with
ragtime." --p. 66

Schuller is willing to present the other side too:

"The excellent 'They All Played Ragtime' by Rudi Blesh and the late
Harriot Janis attempts to prove that ragtime was a distinct music
separate from jazz." p. 67

>What evidence do you have that jazz was "popular in Europe by the time
>Debussy came on the scene"??

Again I am quoting Schuller. I cannot put my finger on the exact
citation right now, but I do remember Schuller emphasizing that jazz
music in some form was popular in Europe before the end of the 19th C.

You are going to have to read the book for details.

>Debussy was born in 1862, died in 1918 (one year after the first jazz
>recordings were made). He was writing great pieces like "Afternoon of
>a Faun" in 1894.

>What jazz was he hearing then?

Beats me.

paramucho

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Jun 16, 2001, 11:47:21 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 12:28:20 GMT, r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote:

>On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 02:45:19 GMT, i...@beathoven.com (paramucho) wrote:
>
>>African music, or American adaptations of African music?
>
>Yes, see Gunther Schuller, "Early Jazz".

That's a fantastic book. I really had the feeling I was "learning"
something when reading that small volume -- particularly his treatment
of rhythm. That book, and a 1950's book by Andre Hodier have been on
my repeated reading selection for the last four months or so.


Ian


Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 11:50:40 AM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 15:47:21 GMT, i...@beathoven.com (paramucho) wrote:

>>Yes, see Gunther Schuller, "Early Jazz".

>That's a fantastic book. I really had the feeling I was "learning"
>something when reading that small volume -- particularly his treatment
>of rhythm. That book, and a 1950's book by Andre Hodier have been on
>my repeated reading selection for the last four months or so.

Too bad the self-proclaimed around here know-it-all "experts" haven't
read it. Then they would not make such fools of themselves in front of
everyone.

Richard Thurston

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Jun 16, 2001, 12:33:15 PM6/16/01
to


Personally I think one can have read the book AND be foolish.


Richard Thurston

Stephen Lavele

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Jun 16, 2001, 12:22:24 PM6/16/01
to
I was actually thinking more of the arabesques, but I agree that the
Cakewalk is also structured like an improvision.

Stephen

Bob <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message

news:3b2ab727...@news-server.houston.rr.com...

Tom Shaw

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Jun 16, 2001, 1:10:19 PM6/16/01
to
Give me a break. Syncopation wasn't invented by Africans. It appears all
over the place in European classical music.
TS

Mike C.

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Jun 16, 2001, 2:21:17 PM6/16/01
to
Personally, I think that we've seen a terrific example of that right in this
thread.

"Richard Thurston" <rcthu...@worldnet.att.net> wrote in message
news:fk2nitgthbqn3mp9v...@4ax.com...

Mike C.

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Jun 16, 2001, 2:22:51 PM6/16/01
to
Too bad that those who have read the book feel that it is the bible and take
it's contents out of context, for their own interpretations. I'm sure that's
not what Schuller had in mind. And it would probably be best not to
crosspost this stuff all over the net, either.

"Bob" <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message

news:3b2b8006...@news-server.houston.rr.com...

Mike C.

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Jun 16, 2001, 2:34:34 PM6/16/01
to
Your examples have not come verbatim from Schuller's book, and anyone at
rec.music.bluenote can tell you that, as you have a twisted version of jazz
history running there. Your version of what Schuller says is questionable at
best. For example, on the subject of ragtime being taken from jazz:

> Here are some excerpts from Schuller:
>
> "The blues structure, like ragtime, was an admixture of African
> influence (the call-and-response pattern) and European harmonically
> derived functional form." --p. 38
>
> "In other parts of Feather's chapter, jazz is frequently equated with
> ragtime." --p. 66
>
> Schuller is willing to present the other side too:
>
> "The excellent 'They All Played Ragtime' by Rudi Blesh and the late
> Harriot Janis attempts to prove that ragtime was a distinct music
> separate from jazz." p. 67

Nowhere does this say anything about the birthplace of either of these
musics.

Michael Fitzgerald is, as was Mr. Brown before him, right on the money. You
sir, are far over interpreting Schuller's words and twisting them to make up
your own jazz history. You are not likely to find anyone to say that jazz
existed before 1900, which is when the majority of Debussy's life and
compositions existed. Debussy may have taken influence from the same places
that jazz did(although highly doubtful), but he certainly did not compose
"Afternoon Of A Faun" with jazz influence in mind.

"Bob" <r...@houston.rr.com> wrote in message

news:3b2b7685...@news-server.houston.rr.com...

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:36:38 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 16:33:15 GMT, Richard Thurston
<rcthu...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>Personally I think one can have read the book AND be foolish.

If you don't agree with Schuller why don't you present your opinions
in calm terms?

The fact that you did not tells me that you have a different agenda
than promoting the truth.

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:39:22 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 18:21:17 GMT, "Mike C." <Funki...@mediaone.net>
wrote:

>Personally, I think that we've seen a terrific example of that right in this
>thread.

Obviously you and the others like you do not agree with Schuller. But
he was represented as the defining authority by the experts here.

You guys can't make up your minds. Music is too subjective to allow
such careful analysis. Even when Schuller makes a scholarly
contribution you consider it wrong.

Never mind that you didn't bother to read his book.

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:41:12 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 18:22:51 GMT, "Mike C." <Funki...@mediaone.net>
wrote:

>Too bad that those who have read the book feel that it is the bible and take


>it's contents out of context, for their own interpretations. I'm sure that's
>not what Schuller had in mind.

How would you know what Schuller had in mind - you haven't even read
his book. Yet you somehow want us to believe that you are one of these
so-called "experts". HA!

> And it would probably be best not to
>crosspost this stuff all over the net, either.

I did not start this thread, nor am I going to go against the wishes
of the person who did by trimming newsgroups.

Ulf Åbjörnsson

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:59:58 PM6/16/01
to

Bob skrev

> Obviously you and the others like you do not agree with Schuller. But
> he was represented as the defining authority by the experts here.
>
By whom?

Ulf

Bob

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Jun 16, 2001, 3:45:55 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 12:10:19 -0500, "Tom Shaw" <a000...@airmail.net>
wrote:

>Give me a break. Syncopation wasn't invented by Africans. It appears all
>over the place in European classical music.

Give me a break!

That was my original thesis when I started a thread on r.m.b. called
"Classical Influences on Jazz". Immediately the experts pounced on me
claiming that I needed to read Schuller's book "Early Jazz", and so I
did just that.

I then discovered that Schuller claimed that syncopation was not
invented by the Europeans. Here is an excerpt from his book:

"We have been certain for many years that jazz inflection and
syncopation did not come from Europe, because there is no precedent
for them in European 'art music'. In fact, the few examples of
syncopation that we do encounter - and then only in the most
rudimentary, if not primitive forms, as in Dvorak's 'New World'
Symphony or Debussy's 'Golliwog's Cakewalk' - were borrowed from
simplifications of this very same African influence as found in
American popular music in the late nineteenth century. But until now
we have lacked musically documented proof of the fact that the
syncopation of jazz is no more than an idiomatic corruption, a
flattened-out mutation of what was once the true polyrhythmic
character of African music." -- pp. 13-15.

That is a verbatim quote.

Bob

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 3:56:03 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 18:34:34 GMT, "Mike C." <Funki...@mediaone.net>
wrote:

>Your examples have not come verbatim from Schuller's book, and anyone at


>rec.music.bluenote can tell you that, as you have a twisted version of jazz
>history running there.

I have quoted Schuller faithfully.

And don't give me this "anyone" crap - most people on rmb haven't even
heard of Schuller before this thread.

As far as who has the "twisted version of jazz" we are all waiting for
yours.

But you are obviously very reluctant to offer it, because you are
rightfully concerned that it will be you who gets jumped if you do.

>Your version of what Schuller says is questionable at best.

How can verbatim quotes be questionable?

You are not making any sense, man. Don't tell me you are one of those
morons with an IQ under 100 who voted for Gore.

>For example, on the subject of ragtime being taken from jazz:

>> Here are some excerpts from Schuller:

>> "The blues structure, like ragtime, was an admixture of African
>> influence (the call-and-response pattern) and European harmonically
>> derived functional form." --p. 38

>> "In other parts of Feather's chapter, jazz is frequently equated with
>> ragtime." --p. 66

>> Schuller is willing to present the other side too:

>> "The excellent 'They All Played Ragtime' by Rudi Blesh and the late
>> Harriot Janis attempts to prove that ragtime was a distinct music
>> separate from jazz." p. 67

>Nowhere does this say anything about the birthplace of either of these
>musics.

OK, then *YOU* tell us about the birthplace of these musics, Mr.
Expert.

Until you do, Schuller's comments stand.

>Michael Fitzgerald is, as was Mr. Brown before him, right on the money.

Neither of whom have read Schuller lately.

>You are not likely to find anyone to say that jazz
>existed before 1900,

Schuller says it does.

READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU MAKE A COMPLETE IDIOT OF YOURSELF!

Bob

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 4:13:14 PM6/16/01
to

>By whom?

By the real jazz experts who hang out on rmb. You can tell a real jazz
expert by their offering their advice and not sitting on the sidelines
to pounce on someone later.

You will have to go back in the archives to find out exactly who they
are - I am not familiar enough with the personalities to recall.

Michael Fitzgerald

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 5:13:51 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 19:56:03 GMT, r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote:
>READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU MAKE A COMPLETE IDIOT OF YOURSELF!

Everyone may not want to duplicate the two-step procedure you
followed.

Mike

fitz...@eclipse.net
http://www.eclipse.net/~fitzgera

Bob

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 4:55:57 PM6/16/01
to
On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 17:13:51 -0400, Michael Fitzgerald
<fitz...@eclipse.net> wrote:

>On Sat, 16 Jun 2001 19:56:03 GMT, r...@houston.rr.com (Bob) wrote:
>>READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU MAKE A COMPLETE IDIOT OF YOURSELF!
>
>Everyone may not want to duplicate the two-step procedure you
>followed.

That is their prerogative. But then they are in no position to
criticize others.

robertandrews

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 5:25:39 PM6/16/01