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Composition vs. Improvisation

> Yes, I've heard his stuff--didn't really care for it (hope this
> doesn't give
> offense). His approach seems more like written improvisation--like he
> played
> something, then went back and wrote it down. I could be way off base
> here. The
> other thing his work seemed lacking was any sense of polyphony, which
> I am
> quite interested in, compositionally. Does he have anything other than
> that CD
> out?
> Drew Wheeler
Ya know this brings up an interesting point (well at least to me):

It seems that many forget that Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, etc. were
all great improvisors in their own right.

I think that, if one listens to their music(s), one can really hear that
many of their works are worked-out and  "polished" improvs. If you
further look at how much of their music sounds as if it is Piano-based,
I think that this really becomes quickly apparent. Contrast this with
someone like Berlioz (guitarist) or Bruckner (organist), and I think
that it becomes even more so. On to Harry Partch (?) . . . and possibly
Messain, who is reputed to have been a great organist-I don't know if he
was an improvisor (it wouldn't suprise me) . . . etc.

It seems to me that only in the 20th Century have we had this sort of
looking down one's nose (at least from the conservatory folk) towards
improvisation, at least insofar as contemporary composers of the say
'20s through the '70s (I'm sort of feeling this timeframe out). At least
the composition faculty where I was at University treated it this way .
. . 

I think that this stems from the quest for GREATER CONTROL by composers
after Schoenberg/Berg/Webern and the moving onto people like P. Boulez
(not necessarliy a slam, mind you). 

A composer friend of mine is a pretty damn good pianist (and good
composer too-studied at Julliard with heaywieghts, etc.). I told him
that my method for through-composed music was that I plunked stuff out
(badly) on the Piano wrote it out on manuscript paper, fed it into a
computer program, listened back, made alterations and modifications, ad
nauseum. I told him that I was somewhat embarassed by this method. His
reply, "Who cares if the end result is good?" (MY jury still out in that
one . . . ) This same guy got a lot of grief from the above faculty
members about doing Piano music when I first met him. If that's what he
feels, who cares?

How about people like Anthony Braxton who write large composed
structures for improvising ensmebles?

I don't know the music in question-so no offense taken there-just
reacting to a reasoning.