Christos Barbas: Improvisation in Modal Music / April 7-12, 2017
Improvisation in music, is as vast as music itself. It is present in any musical form and any so-called “genre”, even if in the last years it is mainly connected with the jazz-related and free-improvisational musics on one hand and the musics of the Eastern world on the other.
Improvisation is directly involved in the ‘making of’, composition or even interpretation of any music, as it is through ‘playing with’ – and thus knowing – the specific elements which make up any aural whole, that one can compose, structure, consolidate a piece of music, in a performance, a recording, on paper, or in her/his imagination.
Improvisation in Modal music, thus, is directly linked with the knowledge of “how” a Modal music system works. Through discovering the different layers that are included in the procedure of articulating a “modally meaningful” phrase, one learns, not only intellectually but also intuitively how improvisation is actually a kind of composing in the here and now.
Improvisation in Modal music offers moreover a chance to revisit the way we listen and think, about a very special aspect in music: melody. Generally speaking, melody in tonal music is dependant on harmony. The sequence of chords is one of the main factors that define how the melody will evolve and how we will perceive it. But in Modal musical systems the factor of harmony is not there, or better put: it doesn’t have to be there in order for the melody to be meaningful. So the process of “learning” how to listen and play anew involves refining our sensitivity to a different set of rules, from those that we were first familiar with.
During this seminar we will do exactly that, focused on the set of rules that are exemplified by the Makam in its Greek & Turkish version. At the same time we will keep open the doors of connection with improvisation in other types of music (free impro, modal jazz, improvisation in group, minimalism) through investigating and working with shared and recurrent topics as: imitation, variation, memory, inter-subjectivity, time, intention, silence.
Participants will receive beforehand a set of recordings, as material to work with (through listening and transcribing). The seminar is open and welcomes all musicians and all types of instruments, who are interested in improvisation not only in modal music, but in general as well.