Interfaces_ by hcj


    Meeting Points for Improvisation
           and Composition
                                Peter Rudnick

On December 2nd 2000, the Music section of the Department of Performing
Arts at Brunel University convened a one-day conference which explored the
relationships between composition and improvisation within the context of
Jazz and contemporary ‘classical’ musics. It attracted a number of delegates
from UK universities, music conservatories and the music professions
comprising a body of composers, performers, educators and critics (not
mutually exclusive categories!). The papers appearing in this edition of BST
are representative of the main proceedings which involved formal papers,
demonstrations, interviews, live premieres of new works and an exhibition of
scores. These papers raise issues such as: problems in the definition of
composition and improvisation; misconceptions about the nature of
improvisation; whether, and in what way, fusions can be effected between
Jazz and classical styles; the relationship between ‘realworld’ Jazz and Jazz
in education. As Ian Carr states: ‘Improvisation at its best, is composition in
motion...and composition at its best has something of the immediacy and
dynamism of improvisation’. Frank Griffiths explains how he has explored the
possibility of achieving a new balance and a new relationship between fully
notated and improvised music and similarly, Colin Riley explores in
collaboration with Jazz saxophonist Tim Whitehead a way of fusing the two to
achieve a ‘third stream’, ‘a language which can enable creativity to take
place’. On the pedagogical side, Daryl Runswick offers useful practical
strategies for musicians who want to acquire improvising skills in conjunction
with notation. Echoing Carr, he indicates that improvising is a disciplined and
sophisticated art rather than ‘fee-association ranting’. Charlie Beale offers
perspectives on composition and improvisation as conceptual categories and
their relationship to classical music, Jazz and Jazz education.

 The interfaces project teams are currently planning the next conference (to
be held in 2002) in collaboration with members of the Trinity College of Music
and the Royal College of Music, London. The number of themes are to be
expanded to include not only the interface between composition and
improvisation but also those between (a) human performers and music
technology, (b) music and sound, (c) text and music. If you would like to be
involved please contact a member of the team – email addresses below.

Peter Rudnick, Brunel University

Project Co-Ordinator

To top