Written by christian howes
Published: January 5, 2015 at 9:19 PM [UTC]
Before I got heavily into jazz, I improvised using the only vocabulary I knew. Jazz has a history of drawing from classical composers, but we could see even more of it once improvisation is taught to classical musicians from an early age.
In this performance, I hear a bit of “everything” (jazz and classical vocabulary), and “nothing” (stylistically neutral material). That’s partly why I decided to share it.
I think the single best way for musicians to improve is by recording and listening back. That’s why the loop pedal is such a great practice tool. It gives me the ability to immediately review my timing, rhythm, ensemble, ideas, phrasing, intonation, and more.
Intonation always needs work, and for this I plead “guilty” as charged. As Yo-Yo Ma once told me in a master class (paraphrasing), “Learning to play in tune is a lifetime project for every string player.”
But the loop pedal reveals a flaw in this performance that’s harder to pin down, something most classical musicians don't spend time honing, and in this performance it’s so blatant, I almost didn’t post the video. Hint: anytime you’re working with a longer form, this will be harder to perfect, and it shows up only once within the loop. Leave a comment and let me know if you figured out what I’m referring to, and if it bothers you.
Credit for the idea of truncating the form of the Bach Fugue in G Minor goes to Billy Contreras. We recorded a duo version of this arrangement on “Jazz Fiddle Revolution”.
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My gear: Yamaha Silent Violin 250
D’Addario Helicore Strings
Boss ME-70 (multi effects signal processor)
Ditto loop pedal
I get my gear from the Electric Violin Shop
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