Sunday, December 28, 2014

Composition as codified improvisation

I improvise a lot.

I've got several "patterns" that I use to improvise, and sometimes I use them to create compositions. Some years ago, I started applying a carillon-type pattern to Antioch ("Joy to the World") as a postlude. I've since used it just about every year. Finally, this year on Christmas Eve, I used it to introduce the carol, an event that went quite well.

And so I felt that since I've done it so often, it was time to write it down. I several years ago composed three "Improvisational Etudes" and compiled them together as a little suite. This is not that set (they'll come later, I'm sure) but instead a piece that no one will be using for about eleven months or some such. Regardless of that, though, I'm still doing it, since I figured it was time to put it down and put it online.

The "carillon" concept is in the hands at the start - a descending scale repeated. I use held notes to highlight the harmony (in this case a 5/4 chord). No registration is specified, but the pedals (having the melody) should stand out somewhat, if only so that the congregation get the melody. On a smaller instrument I would cut the volume of the pedals when the extended pedal point happens, now I just change manuals.

Having learned my lesson, there's a download link in the picture caption.

Here's the piece:

Creative Commons License
Carillon on "Antioch" by Mike Cutler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
"Antioch" is by Lowell Mason, written in 1836, based on the work of G. F. Handel

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