[Smt-talk] Improvised Canon

Markus Jans - Thorpe
Fri Oct 12 05:21:42 PDT 2012

Dear  new friends of historically informed improvisation!

All the research that has been done so far points in one direction:  
the practice of  improvised counterpoint (homophonic or polyphonic),  
also called sortisatio or contrapunctus mente was the main method to  
acquire practical musical competence, as singer, instrumentalist as  
well as composer. As far as I see, this was the case from the Middle  
Ages up to the late 19th century ( there are plenty of models for  
every style) in what is now generally called "classical" music, and  
throughout the 20th up until now in  Jazz and Pop music. Whoever was  
(is) familiar enough with models, was (is) able to sing, play  and  
write. It goes without saying that also analysis profits enormousely.  
Students who were taught by this method and became skillful will  
immediately recognize models, patterns and tricks in compositions.   
They will, however, also immediately recognize whatever is special,  
new, extra norm, and perhaps only possible through "elaboratio" with  
time and pencil at the desk, let alone  by a specially gifted mind.  
In my close to 40 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum in Basle I  
often was confronted with a slight resistance among my students. They  
were afraid of having their beloved music demystified. Nowadays a  
similar resistance can be observed among theory teachers all over. I  
can only say: Fear not! Go on! You are on the good track!  And there  
is help in case you need it. Peter Schubert deserves  several gold  
stars for all he provides. And there are plenty of research articles  
coming out almost every month, on  historic sources as well as  
nowadays teaching methods.

Markus Jans

Am 12.10.2012 um 10:37 schrieb Daniel Roca:

> Dear Dimitar
> I agree with the need of written theory and its application, above  
> or for composers (conductors, musicologists..) etc. As I am more  
> concerned with education for performers and teachers, I think that  
> more practical and simple aproaches can be valuable there. My  
> comments imply that, at least in my country, there tends to be no(t  
> enouth) diferentiation between both goals.
> I understand from you answer that Pr. Schubert as replied to you  
> privately. I would love to see more information about this on the  
> list. I hope others would as well.
> El 11/10/2012, a las 21:09, Ninov, Dimitar N escribió:
>> Dear Daniel,
>> Thank you. I completely understand and I admire Prof. Schubert's  
>> practical method. I was wondering about the extent Prof. Schubert  
>> has arrived at, and he was so kind as to reply to me. Actually,  
>> the achievements of those students exceeded my expectations for  
>> which Prof. Schubert deserves a praise!
>> On another note, involving written theory of counterpoint. Yes, I  
>> agree that rules are a burden, and I am all for as much  
>> simplification as one can apply. However, we know that the  
>> inverted counterpoint at the octave, 10th and 12th is the core of  
>> canon techniques, including canonic sequences that transpose the  
>> material up or down once the initial imitation has taken place.  
>> Without these rules Bach would not have been able to masterfully  
>> work out his inventions and fugues. Virtually every invention (and  
>> fugue) contains wonderful application of invertible counterpoint  
>> in a canonic sequence fashion. For Bach this is the alphabet of  
>> canonic technique. If we want to understand this alphabet (and why  
>> we marvel at it) we must study it as written theory in the  
>> classroom, and I am sure teachers of counterpoint do that.
>> With best regards,
>> Dimitar
>> Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
>> School of Music
>> Texas State University
>> 601 University Drive
>> San Marcos, Texas 78666
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> _________
> Mark Twain: Haz siempre lo correcto. Esto gratificará a algunos,  
> dejará atónitos al resto.
> Daniel Roca
> Músico
> drocacan at gmail.com
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