[Smt-talk] Pieces with improvisatory openings

Charles J. Smith cjsmith at buffalo.edu
Sun Oct 23 20:52:35 PDT 2011

List folks,

Two more suggestions, both a bit more hare-brained:

	The Adagio movement to Mahler's 10th—yeah, a whole viola section can  
hardly be improvising, but they play as one and the effect is as if  
that one is thinking up that melody on the spot...

	Rhapsody in Blue—specifically the clarinet lick, of course.

Hmmm...pondering this leads to the almost inevitable question: why  
would a passage that we know well and have heard dozens (or hundreds)  
of times still strike us as "improvisatory"? Is it just the absence of  
obvious conventional form? The preference for small-scale figurational  
patterns over larger-scale patterns of thematic recurrence, reprise,  

Gotta think about this some more.


> Hello Collected Wisdom and Beloved Scholars,
> I’m interested in studying the emergence of tempo from the  
> perspective of the listener. One viable case study for this  
> phenomenon is the class of pieces that begin with short,  
> improvisatory passages that precede more temporally patterned  
> movements proper.
> This is slightly different than the phenomenon previously discussed  
> on this list in which the most salient level of time-span  
> organization is initially obscured in preference for a faster or  
> slower rate (i.e., London’s “metric fakeout”).
> A paragon of what I’m looking for would be Chopin’s G-minor Ballade,  
> Op. 23. I’ve also been directed to Schumann’s String Quartet No. 3,  
> Op. 41, no. 3.
> Do you know of other tonal examples like these? I’ll take responses  
> off-list unless they’re of general interest.
> Thank you for your thoughts and I look forward to seeing many of you  
> at our Annual Meeting next week.
> Best regards,
> Mitch Ohriner
> mohriner at gmail.com
> Assistant Professor of Music Theory
> Shenandoah Conservatory
> Winchester, VA _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
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Charles J. Smith
Slee Chair of Music Theory & Chair of the Department
Department of Music, 220 Baird Hall
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
716-645-0639 [direct line]
716-645-3824 [fax]
cjsmith at buffalo.edu

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