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In the past concerning a piece I wrote entitled... Cereal-ism, I've toyed with serialism in an improvisational way.
However, in that piece I used many passing tones so it wasn't a pure 12 tone improvisation. I only hinted at it.
In this piece I use strict serialism. Through memorization, which is no different than the memorization of II-V-I passages or any riff in general, I primarily use prime sequence, which I've written, with sporadic inversion. Like anything else this requires practice, obviously. The practice part is trying to be creative with them while improvising and not deviating from using all 12 tones before I begin a new set of 12 in spite of the fact that I may be stringing two or more rows together rather than pause once I hit the 12th tone. Or whatever my imagination came up with on the spot.

Why serialism improvisation? I like the thought of treating each note as an equal to the previous note as well as the overall texture of color.
Additionally, I don't hear enough of it in a jazz context although I do love the classical approach to it very much!
I never deviate from the 12 tone sequence. Not once! Whenever I did I stopped the recording which was often! lol....I memorized 8 rows and the more I played them the more I was able to think using them like pulling files out of a draw. The last few recordings were non-deviation from the 12 tone rows which meant I was getting more adept at improvising them. This one here I liked the best.

The string/vocal effect background are also playing 12 tone passages.
I know it's not a popular technique. In fact I've heard, on occasion, that it's an ugly technique. I think differently. I enjoy listening to it and I would love to hear more jazz players utilizing this technique.
I've heard Bill Evans do it and he truly played great! Someone wrote, concerning Bill Evans rendition:
"It's amazing what he has done with the now defunct 12-tone system which is the antithesis of jazz in most of its usage". Defunct? Antithesis? Obscure is more an apt word if anything.
There is some music based on serialism in jazz on YouTube. Just not enough!

Sorry for the lengthy thread...I find all this stuff exciting and when it comes together somewhat I feel I've accomplished something, or at best beginning to. It's just a tip of the ice berg and I really need to think with more agility . Practice, practice, practice...

Schoenberg's Shuffle...
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=1141600
 

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This is really good! I like your tone and attack and it's really effective over the vocal/orchestral background. Great to hear improvisation in this context.
 

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Your style of sax playing has always sounded lively and somewhat playful even when playing atonally. Using tone rows adds quite a bit of weight and a juxtaposition of a "Classical" sound/composition with jazz saxophone. The sax does indeed hold it together though as it is so often mirrors the tone row in the background and almost feels like a polyrhythmic fugue.

Light listening it's NOT. Challenging it IS. But much "aficionado" jazz is serious stuff which seems meant to satisfy at an intellectual level more than sensory anyway. I guess it's a whole new set of parameters about which one can be very serious.

The odd thing is that under those very very serious tone rows still lurks a whimsical emotive sax player. Very strange indeed.

Not sure I'm totally convinced that tone row jazz is the new wave, but would certainly enjoy hearing more come our way.

Thanks Mike.
 

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Lovely, Mike! Actually a very perky series! I liked the gradual slowing down. It is totally interesting that you do this stuff - and with a dose of humour too. Enjoyed it a lot.

We recorded with our band Sirene an atonal tune of mine ages ago in the rehearsal room.
Here it is. Just the notes of the theme are a tone row with two inversions - then improvisation is off into somewhere between modal and i don't know what. We still had a way to go! At that time I wouldn't have thought possible the actual improvising with the row.



Reine
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Your style of sax playing has always sounded lively and somewhat playful even when playing atonally. Using tone rows adds quite a bit of weight and a juxtaposition of a "Classical" sound/composition with jazz saxophone. The sax does indeed hold it together though as it is so often mirrors the tone row in the background and almost feels like a polyrhythmic fugue.

Light listening it's NOT. Challenging it IS. But much "aficionado" jazz is serious stuff which seems meant to satisfy at an intellectual level more than sensory anyway. I guess it's a whole new set of parameters about which one can be very serious.

The odd thing is that under those very very serious tone rows still lurks a whimsical emotive sax player. Very strange indeed.

Not sure I'm totally convinced that tone row jazz is the new wave, but would certainly enjoy hearing more come our way.

Thanks Mike.
Well, two of the voices are similar and I didn't want the sax to mirror that. Basically, it's like indicating the sax can be a free spirit over the voicing's of the other two instruments. Or like a pebble skipping over a still pond. Those two voicings are the still pond.
But free spirit? Serialism can be considered free in a compositional way because the composer has all the time in the world to construct sequence, but that would apply to all composition because it's not necessarily spontaneous. Improvisationally, this is not the case and it's far from free music. However, just like any other type of memorized sequence the improvisation can come in the form of rhythm/ sequence/note duration/inversion/retrograde, etc. The freedom can only come from different ways to approach the sequences spontaneously as in all learned sequences.

Yeah, I certainly did not want this to appear as specifically intellectual because I don't feel it is. I do this on a fundamental level because it is simple. I really enjoy how this technique sounds...It's not anything deeper than that!
The sensory aspect of listening to music whether one gets it or not is always affected. But yes, this definitely creates a new way of looking at improvisation in this type of setting. I personally don't think of it as something that is difficult because it's not. It just takes practice and I know not every musician would even want to bog themselves down with it. But I enjoy bogging myself down with different ways that inspire me. I would bet most feel that this type of practice would be considered trite. I'm not at all interested in the disinterest of it because I happen to enjoy it. Negativity never persuades me into looking at a different way.

I wasn't trying to convince you or anyone that this is the way to go. This is just a personal way at looking at it. I've heard some pretty nasty stuff concerning serialism and I think it's totally unfair. Why would music in any form warrant such harshness? Today, I'm writing and learning more sequences to apply to the ones I already know. This is how I'm spending my day and it's a wonderful day indeed! Some people are learning new II-V-I patterns, or just learning their horn in general, and are really inspired by it and I think that's great. I understand. Music is very personal and it should be nothing but fun which allows us the potential to become inspired. Now that's a great feeling and it's what I always seek out of music!

Wade, thank you and I always carry respect for your take on issues...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Lovely, Mike! Actually a very perky series! I liked the gradual slowing down. It is totally interesting that you do this stuff - and with a dose of humour too. Enjoyed it a lot.

We recorded with our band Sirene an atonal tune of mine ages ago in the rehearsal room.
Here it is. Just the notes of the theme are a tone row with two inversions - then improvisation is off into somewhere between modal and i don't know what. We still had a way to go! At that time I wouldn't have thought possible the actual improvising with the row.



Reine
Rennie, thank you! I listened to your piece and I think it's great! Really nice piece of music!
Anything can be improvised if practiced enough. Did you present this piece to SOTW originally? If not, you should have!
 

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What do you mean, presenting it originally? It was from a rehearsal in 1992...

Yeah, I certainly did not want this to appear as specifically intellectual because I don't feel it is. I do this on a fundamental level because it is simple. I really enjoy how this technique sounds...It's not anything deeper than that!
I like the way you approach this way of organising musical material that very often is considered esoteric or unapproachable. Enjoy how it sounds.. I'm sure that Schoenberg, when he talked about the emancipation of the dissonant, thought dissonants, besides other things, also simply sounded cool. An enjoyment of the music is a basic premise for finding another direction.
I would be interested in using a row somewhat in the way Alban Berg did it (as far as I can understand - I'm not a musicologist), in which part of the row are kernels for little excursions into other musical fragments. As in his violin concerto where he takes 2 notes from the note that morph into a Bach chorale. Your playing really sends the mind off!

Reine
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What do you mean, presenting it originally? It was from a rehearsal in 1992...

I like the way you approach this way of organising musical material that very often is considered esoteric or unapproachable. Enjoy how it sounds.. I'm sure that Schoenberg, when he talked about the emancipation of the dissonant, thought dissonants, besides other things, also simply sounded cool. An enjoyment of the music is a basic premise for finding another direction.
I would be interested in using a row somewhat in the way Alban Berg did it (as far as I can understand - I'm not a musicologist), in which part of the row are kernels for little excursions into other musical fragments. As in his violin concerto where he takes 2 notes from the note that morph into a Bach chorale. Your playing really sends the mind off!

Reine
Yes, I know, you mentioned that it was played live, in rehearsal or otherwise. That doesn't mean you couldn't post it when you originally recorded it. I like it a lot!

Thank you...It definitely is approachable because I can do it being that I'm not gifted with exceptional technique. I'm pretty much a basic saxophone player with a very good imagination. That about sums it up!
Serialism may be a bit on the outside of things musically but that doesn't mean now and again it can't be brought into consciousness even on a small level. I would like to bring it up more and right now this is my area of practice.

Yes, dissonance has as much beauty to my ears as consonance, I treat them as equals because they should balance themselves but they don't necessarily have to. Too many arguments concerning atonal/tonal music. Sound, if it were conscious of itself, doesn't care at all what you or I choose to do with it. It's not partial at all in how we borrow it. Why should the individuals who borrow it nonchalantly, or take it for granted that they can actually HEAR sound, feel one is better or more advantageous than the other?
Sound in general, meaning indeterminate sounds such as nature, not necessarily animals, humans, etc. but more like extraneous sound, make up the predominance of all sound which is dissonant. Would consonance be less natural? No, of course not because it merely relates to how nature (us) relate to sound in sequence according to how we think. Humans choose determinate sounds in which we can purposely create flavor and color. Composers like John
Cage merely stepped up to indicate the balance that he felt is lacking in music or sound sequence. Most traditional musicians try and mirror the tradition that they feel a compassion for. I feel, with dissonant music, or dissonant sequence, those inclined to follow that path are merely trying to mirror the indeterminate sounds of nature in a determinate way. So, both camps, traditional and non-traditional, are simply trying to relate to the particular aspect of nature that inspires them. One isn't better than the other or more important than the other. They are merely choices or options. Serialism is just another way that nature allows for us to explore sound a different way. Why not use all 12 tones and not repeat them until the 12th tone is sounded? Too cold a technique? Isn't any technique or progression initially cold when in the midst of figuring it out? It's all relative!

True, I feel serialism can open up elements in how we think about music, especially how we improvise music and they could be springboards into other areas of thought. It's all out there for our taking however which way we relate to it, and if we find something that piques our interest then we should try to unravel it as best we could without the possibility of being detoured resulting from critical overture relating to how someone else would channel their own inspiration as a better suited platform.

Who knows it could be something that we didn't bargain for originally and then our own playing could profoundly change for the better...Or, possibly it could be nothing at all what we expected. The bottom line is no matter what we attempt it's never a waste of time.


Thanks Rennie! I'm glad you got something out of it!
 

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Cool and very challenging. You might like this site.

http://www.patamusik.de/index.html

http://www.patamusik.de/workbook/workbo_en.html

Lots of free resources.
http://www.patamusik.de/workbook/workbo/web36wor.htm

Also, there's a great book out that addresses a lot of the harmonic issues that arise when thinking of serialism - granted it modifies the improvisation into atonalism, but that is kind of expected.

I love atonal music and serialism is a great tool. I feel that as an improviser it is like saying "you can only play the f major scale in this order." So it tends to get stale for me. However I did do a lot of experimentation with writing in this vein and could neve solve the issue myself so I used the row as ther harmonic progression in a a "harmolodic" sense. http://www.myspace.com/andrewhickman
 

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Great stuff again Mike... I had the chance at a instrumental majors seminar at NTSU years ago to hear and then speak to Bill Evans and Eddie Gomez... Bill described his passion for twelve tone composition/playing saying "ultimate freedom 'in' a framework"... When Eddie Gomez was asked about his effortless technique he just laughed and said 'I'm all thumbs...', watchings videos of Eddie, he certainly does uses quite a bit of thumb fretting action...
 

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You make it sound very approachable, almost easy. The little I know, however, about serialism convinces me that it must be extremely challenging for the composer, And, I suppose, only disciplined types need apply. So, thank you for the effort of making this available to us.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Cool and very challenging. You might like this site.

http://www.patamusik.de/index.html

http://www.patamusik.de/workbook/workbo_en.html

Lots of free resources.
http://www.patamusik.de/workbook/workbo/web36wor.htm

Also, there's a great book out that addresses a lot of the harmonic issues that arise when thinking of serialism - granted it modifies the improvisation into atonalism, but that is kind of expected.

I love atonal music and serialism is a great tool. I feel that as an improviser it is like saying "you can only play the f major scale in this order." So it tends to get stale for me. However I did do a lot of experimentation with writing in this vein and could neve solve the issue myself so I used the row as ther harmonic progression in a a "harmolodic" sense. http://www.myspace.com/andrewhickman
Thanks Andrew. I appreciate the links...I'll have a look at them.
Also I really enjoyed the music on your page. I like how you think! 'Three' really swings!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Great stuff again Mike... I had the chance at a instrumental majors seminar at NTSU years ago to hear and then speak to Bill Evans and Eddie Gomez... Bill described his passion for twelve tone composition/playing saying "ultimate freedom 'in' a framework"... When Eddie Gomez was asked about his effortless technique he just laughed and said 'I'm all thumbs...', watchings videos of Eddie, he certainly does uses quite a bit of thumb fretting action...
Hey thanks Eugene!
Very cool you got to talk with those guys!
Thank you for sharing that!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
You make it sound very approachable, almost easy. The little I know, however, about serialism convinces me that it must be extremely challenging for the composer, And, I suppose, only disciplined types need apply. So, thank you for the effort of making this available to us.
Well it certainly is as I explained in the analogy of memorizing any sequence at all in jazz or rock, etc.
When it begins to become second nature then you can think clearly about it as in what it's made up of. While your on one sequence, you're already thinking
of options in what to play next or in many sequences to come. That's what we all strive for regardless if it's in traditional jazz or non-traditional jazz.

I'm not so sure it's discipline or passion that would make any composer want to tackle non-traditional sequence. In composition I've written in 12 tone but only partially because the whole piece didn't require it. Naturally in composition it's easier to write serialism because time is on your side whereas in improvisation you have to think right on the spot.
If you're interested in this technique just sit down and write out some passages whether it's on piano or saxophone and listen how they sound to you.
There's no mystery in it, it's just a technique and actually I consider it a fundamental technique. It's just a way to equalize all 12 tones.

You're very welcome sir!
 
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