[Smt-talk] Pieces with improvisatory openings

Vasili Byros vasili.byros at gmail.com
Tue Oct 25 06:43:49 PDT 2011

The opening of Beethoven's Fantasy, Op. 77, oscillates between metrically ambiguous, improvisatory scale passages with fermatas and patches of metrically clear, lyrical material.

Mitch, the metrically ambiguous scales (which return throughout the fantasy) are "improvisatory" in your sense. But the entire opening, in fact the whole piece is "improvisatory" from a stylistic/generic perspective---a composed-out improvisation, if you will.





Vasili Byros
Assistant Professor, Music Theory and Cognition
Northwestern University
Bienen School of Music
711 Elgin Road
Evanston, IL 60208
v-byros at northwestern.edu

On Oct 24, 2011, at 11:03 PM, JAY RAHN wrote:

> Linda Seltzer's alap instance is well taken. Among other well known non-European genres, the short introductory buka (also bubuka or bubuka opaq-opaq) in gamelan pieces and the taqsim of Arab classical music come to mind; within European tradition, preambulum/tastar de corda introductions from the 15th century onward. Establishing or testing out a movement's
>  tuning or mode or introducing some of its motifs before its more clearly pulsatile main part has been pretty widespread. 
> Arguably more interesting are passages in the middle of an instrumental piece that depart substantially from the more clearly metrical rhythms that precede and follow them: cadenzas, of course, as well as interjected recitatives and fermatas. 'Arguably more interesting' because according to a current view a pulsation is supposed to persist after the actual onsets it comprises. When, then, does a metre end? And after an interruption, does it start over 'from scratch' or resume? 
> Jay Rahn, York University   
> From: Linda Seltzer <lseltzer at alumni.caltech.edu>
> To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> Sent: Monday, October 24, 2011 7:57:01 PM
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Pieces with improvisatory openings
> That's how most Indian music works (improvisatory alap and other sections 
> - such as jor and jhala in North Indian music -  preceding composition -
> gat)
> Linda Seltzer
> Post-enrolled grad student, Princeton
> Independent consultant, Intellectual Ventures
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