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About Derek

  • Rank
    Seasoned Improviser
  • Birthday 08/15/1983

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  • Location
    United States
  • Occupation
    Software Developer
  • Interests
    piano playing, improvisation, composition, computer programming, video games, movies, fantasy novels
  1. Maybe it's okay in this instance since if you look at both the left and right hand as one big chord you really have a 6/3 chord. I.e. the third is expressed in the octave bass in the left, the right hand is playing a root position chord, but sum it all up and you have a big 6/3 chord, in essence. I was experimenting with this this morning and found if I play the arpeggiated figure in the right hand voiced as a 6/3 chord also over the octave bass, that did create an unpleasant effect with the leading tone as I was doubling it four times rather than three...perhaps it is more a matter of degree. One thing that has helped me thus far in understanding triadic harmony is realizing that the overall goal expressed by the "rules" is really to emphasize the third of the chord of the current harmony and treat it carefully. It should be clear and expressed well. Various things obscure it. Thirds disappear when you use too many parallels or if you express just an octave or fifth. They also sound "over emphasized" when doubled too much. I suppose it is sort of a balancing act rather than a black and white sort of thing. I didn't really understand these things in my ear until I got a clavichord----for some reason on the piano, nearly any voicing of any chord sounds good, dissonant or not---possibly because of the richer timbre. But with a thinner timbre, improper treatment of the third sticks out like a sore thumb! It's always been my goal to try to understand harmony with my ear primarily---that way the rules don't really seem like rules, rather they are "observations" about what sounds good, if you're starting out with the premise of "emphasizing (or rather, respecting and balancing) thirds." (after all you might start out with wanting to de-emphasize all tonality, with serialism or something. I tend to like common practice harmony so I start out with that goal of emphasizing thirds)
  2. So would you say my analysis was correct then? He's basically leading up to a resolution on B, from E major. Since we're moving towards B, the leading tone would be A# (leading tone of B) rather than D# (leading tone of E). So the doubling (which is not only the octave bass, but a D# on the strong beat of the passage in question in the right hand) is permitted. *edit* Maybe it's okay when you have an arpeggiated chord and the doubling is very transient and quick? Ever since I began studying music back in...I guess it is about the year 2000 or so, I have had trouble understanding the harmonic rules, and theory textbooks in general. I have a much better feeling for why they are there, today, especially after having owned and played a clavichord for 5 years (this instrument has really helped to reveal a lot of the "why" for me...). But I definitely perceive how subtle they are as well, they definitely can't be called rules the same way it is a rule that 1+1=2 I suppose. Still it's interesting when things like this pop up and, having not studied much theory formally I'm interested to hear more learned individuals' thoughts on the matter... So what you're saying I think is, that those rules apply in a black and white fashion more to lock-step, simple 4 part writing than to embellished, full idiomatic writing for an instrument? That would make sense---it'd probably be too difficult to pin down exactly where the rules are and are not being followed otherwise. Though I have memories of my piano professor in college (when I was a non major piano student) pointing out places where Chopin was following the rules, and there too you have things broken up a lot more than mere 4 part writing. So it would seem that sort of analysis can be done on any music, so...I'm still baffled by the passage I found. I wonder if there are any volumes of analysis of all Haydn's sonatas or anything I could check out, I've been playing them a lot...learning a lot, too, I hope!
  3. I'm trying to understand what the "do not double the leading tone" rule means in practice. Does it only mean when tones are vertically aligned on a strong beat or does it encompass more than that? I encountered a passage in a Haydn sonata (see attached picture) which is in E major. A little down the page of this presto is an arpeggiated passage which starts out with an octave doubling of the E major leading tone (D#) and a D# is also present in the arpeggiated figures in the right hand. I observe that this passage ultimately resolves on B, but the leading tone of B is never expressed, interestingly. But I wondered if since he's leading up to being in B this is why the E major leading tone is (apparently) permitted to be freely doubled.
  4. That's really cool...I think I might get your book. I've been a "non jazz" piano improviser for several years now. I checked out some of your music you linked to...very cool..very melodic and creative. I like it a lot! reminds me slightly of Leos Janacek! (cause of some of his pieces for horn and piano that have similar dark atmosphere...haha)
  5. Ted Jones, my mentor. Lewellyn Jones, his teacher (no relation to Ted) Sir Edward Elgar (Lewellyn's composition instructor) and, indirectly, Debussy (Lewellyn Jones got to observe him improvising). That also connects me with Yehudi Menuhin via Sir Edward Elgar, and then through Menuhin, Ravi Shankar and the Beatles! Haha. Oh! And The Matrix soundtrack since the one song is basically a techno remix of Sir Edward Elgar's Enigma variations =)
  6. Sometimes I just wanna tell new age pianists that they are allowed to hit notes below that middle C...then again maybe their synth doesn't have the full 88 keys..? I also want to tell them it's ok to hit notes that aren't in the scale sometimes. George Winston is often cited as a new age pianist. And sometimes, Keith Jarrett is blamed for starting the whole new age piano craze---yet if you listen to his music it is WAY more creative than george winston and new age in general---the melodies say so much more. he uses notes below middle C....he makes the piano scream with passion and whisper secrets. That's really it isn't it. New Age composers can write gorgeous melodies---Yanni definitely has...but it just seems like they don't STRIVE as much for depth and breadth of expression. Nothing wrong with that---they have a specific purpose in mind and some of them do it very well. I wouldn't say it takes minimal talent to write ANY kind of music---writing a simple melody takes talent. Writing a simple melody that is really really good takes even more. So its all about what you want. Do you want music to tell stories and have a huge range of colors and dynamics and rhythms like you're exploring all the exotic lands of the world? Or do you just want green meadows and fluffy bunnies?
  7. There's no wrong way to compose. The only thing that matters is the resulting sound. "real composing is done with pencil and paper" ...that's interesting...didn't read somewhere that Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and others were all obsessive piano improvisers? Clearly there is no correct way to compose. All that matters is: Are you comfortable with the method you are using and do you end up with music that you like? Also, I wouldn't worry about forming "bad habits." Those "bad habits" may be just what makes your music unique! I'm not sure what bad habits would even be, in music. Using parallel fifths? Personally I think rules and rights and wrongs have absolutely no place in music. They only have a place if a composer CHOOSES to compose in a certain style. If however the composer simply wants to write his own music----THERE ARE NO RULES. period.
  8. Improvisation is the sole method by which I compose my piano music. Over the years, I've developed both the ability to create music with thematic form and development on the spot, as well as totally organic music with little or no thematic development. I find both to be equally vital paths for creating good and enjoyable music. I don't believe that pieces with carefully worked out architectural form are necessarily better than improvisations just because they are carefully worked out and architectural. I've heard some improvisations I like better than compositions and vice versa..It is the final sound that matters, and how it moves me, not the means by which the music was created. Here are some examples of totally improvised piano music: Michael Solomont check out mine also if you haven't already downloaded them here on youngcomposers.com Derek Andrews I definitely don't consider improvisation mere virtuosic show off bravura. Many do use it for that, but I certainly don't...it is THE method I use to create and express myself through music.
  9. I think the three most important things one can do to gain facility with improvisation are: 1) Try noodling/improvising in all the different key signatures that you know, and try to learn all 24 major and minor keys (eventually, not all at once of course). 2) Record yourself, and listen to yourself, a LOT. When you're a beginner at improv, it is amazing how often one accidentally comes up with a cool little phrase, which you would have forgotten otherwise. When you listen to yourself you can say: "Hey, that was neat!" and pick it out again, and thus have absorbed it into your vocabulary. Recording yourself and listening to yourself facilitates musical "natural selection." Thus you can "evolve" your sound in this way. 3) Never worry about rules. At least not for the first several years. Your first few years of improv experience should be getting familiar with as many key signatures, chords, figures, as possible. Much like a baby learning speech, it says all kinds of nonsense syllables before forming words and sentences. But it becomes way easier to form words and sentences being able to make nonsense syllables first! Hope that helps! Regards, -Derek.
  10. I have a roland f-100. It's awesome. take a listen Improvisations I think the model has been discontinued. I believe the HP101, which you cited, is the modern equivalent, and probably just as good. I like the tone of rolands better than yamahas.
  11. Has anyone here written any music for children (i.e. very little experience...not talking about prodigies here) to perform? (any instrument)
  12. Do you consider simplicity to be an ideal for your composition?
  13. Derek


    Anyone here compose for or play the clavichord? I've been rather obsessed with this instrument recently, especially because of Keith Jarrett's "Book of Ways" album, where he improvises I think 17 or 18 short clavichord pieces in varying idioms.
  14. The way I analyze music is simple. I listen to it, and if something jumps out at me that I like, I sometimes try to use some fragment of it, whether it be a melodic fragment, chord, rhythm, etc, in my improvisation and then "absorb" that into my style. I never try to ask "why" the composer did anything. The fact that I enjoyed whatever I intuitively analyzed is enough of a "why" to use that device, for me.
  15. I'm rephrasing this subject line because I actually am not searching for books for my own use. I would like to stimulate discussion on why there seems to be so few books about rhythm in music theory sections in the library, and in university courses. I suppose there might be a couple that are like: "Other cultures use polyrhythms! WHOA! ROXORZ!" but that doesn't really tell us much. I'm asking: why the heck is there so little deep discussion about rhythm. For contrast, consider Schoenberg's "Theory of Harmony" text book. It has absolutely nothing about rhythm in it, or says it is simply "out of scope" of the text. Which is obvious of course, but...when I go to the library (the university library) and look in the music section, its all harmony harmony harmony form form form. No discussion about rhythm and melody. None. It seems to me that harmony is over-stressed in musical academia. The way harmonies, and melodies and rhythms are placed throughout the duration of a composition is where all of the variety comes from, I believe, not from what exact vertical pitches are used at every point in a composition. I can think of many pieces where there might have been all sorts of "proper" things going on with exact vertical pitches going the "correct" ways, but the music was incredibly boring. To me, it is how the notes are organized through time (sorry to reiterate) which makes music good. And it seems very few people recognize this, focus TOO much on harmony, and thus stunt their musical growth. Correct me if I'm wrong!
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