Improvising over Classical Music Masterpieces
This book explores Improvising over Classical Music. The examples in the book were recorded by Spooky Actions, a New York based ensemble created by John Gunther and Bruce Arnold. Spooky Actions has produced a diverse set of recordings include the music of 20th century composers Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg and Olivier Messiaen; interpretations of Native American music Volume One and Volume Two, and well as a recording of Early Music from the 2nd century BC through the 1500’s. Their unique and compelling sound is being met with critical acclaim and widespread interest.
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Improvising on Classical Music Masterpieces
by Bruce Arnold
Contents of the Improvising over Classical Music Book
This book contains not only analysis of how the group “Spooky Actions” improvised over various Classical music masterpieces but a large body of ideas that a musician can use to Improvising over Classical music from various periods. There is a primer section in the book that covers:
- The most used scales in improvisation. (22 in total)
- The improvisational concepts of guide tones
- The improvisational concepts of playing over harmony.
- The improvisational concepts of using chord tones.
- The improvisational concepts of using approach notes.
- The improvisational concepts of using pitch class sets.
- Fingering for guitarists for the twenty two scales.
All of this information is actually useful no matter what type of music you are improvising over!
Full Tracks Included from Many “Spooky Actions” CDs.
MP3s are included in the download as is a webpage where you can listen and see full scores of the music. There is a wide range of Classical Compositions included in this book which gives you a good background on how to approach different periods of classical music. Below you will find a list of the music analyzed and a link to the CD in which it can be found. You can also use this link if you want to listen to an excerpt before buying this book or want to hear a music excerpt from that composer or period.
The following compositions were analyzed from the “Spooky Actions” CD “Early Music.”
- “Skolion-of-Seikilos” Earliest known piece of music that was written.
- “Ode from the Kanon for Easter Sunday”
- The 1st Canzonet, “Qual si può dir maggiore“ by Claudio Monteverdi
“Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen
The following compositions were analyzed from the “Spooky Actions” CD “Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen
- “Quartet for the End of Time” 1st Movement
- “Quartet for the End of Time” 6th Movement
- “Quartet for the End of Time” 8th Movement
“Five Piano Pieces,” Opus 23 2nd Movement by Arnold Schoenberg
Five Piano Pieces, Opus 23 2nd Movement by Arnold Schoenberg from Spooky Actions “Five Piano Pieces” recording..
The following compositions were analyzed from the “Spooky Actions” CD Five Piano Pieces, Opus 23 2nd Movement by Arnold Schoenberg
- “Five Piano Pieces,” Opus 23 2nd Movement by Arnold Schoenberg
The Fünf Canons, Opus 16 1st Movement by Anton Webern
Fünf Canons, Opus 16 1st Movement by Anton Webern
The Fünf Canons, Opus 16 1st Movement by Anton Webern from Spooky Actions “Music of Webern” recording
The following composition we was analyzed:
- Fünf Canons, Opus 16 1st Movement by Anton Webern from Spooky Actions “Music of Webern” recording
- What people are saying:
- Highly informative book showing you many options when improvising over Classical Music. I was happy that a primer was included so that I fully understand how to apply; scales, guide tones, approach notes and pitch class sets. A one of a kind book! B. Goings
- I’m a classical violinist and really found this book helpful to hear and see how this band Spooky Actions approached improvisation. The musical language used in the book was concise and well organized. I would strongly recommend this book for someone who hasn’t improvised before. T. Jennings
- I think the best thing about this book is the addendum explaining Pitch Class Set Theory. I think I finally understand it and it’s not hard for me anymore. H. Andrews
- Love the wide variety of music in this book. Never thought I would hear someone improvising over Messiaen or Webern but they really did a nice job! R. Ballentine
- Leave it to Bruce Arnold to be improvising on Classic Masterpieces. Got to give it up for the guy, he is versatile! J. Ackerson
- Additional Information for Improvising on Classical Masterpieces:
- ISBN: 978-1-59489-430-5
- 66 page PDF
- 12 Full Track MP3s.
- Link to webpage with full scores and MP3s
- 22 page addendum with guitar fretboard fingerings for 22 of the most used scales in improvisation.