Portfolio of Works: Text and Controlled Improvisation as a Vehicle for Musical Development

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This portfolio of works consists of three original compositions, each drawing from text and/or improvisation as a primary source of musical development. Instrumentation is for four performers or fewer, consisting of a saxophone quartet, open-instrumentation solo, and an organ and percussion duo.

    The first work, Duality, stands apart from the other two in that it does not draw from the musicality of text to generate musical content. Instead, it draws its form from a musical conception of duality, two opposite musical ideas presented in full before they are mixed, matched, and morphed into one another. Controlled improvisation is employed as a means of musical development, offering previously established motifs as a basis for hectic and climactic improvisation.

    The second work, Pages for Solo Instrument, is written entirely in text, yet forgoes any sort of written instruction. Instead, the text is written figuratively, hoping to draw the performer’s attention to the rhythm, grammar, and punctuation as a means of generating musical ideas. Musical development is then explored through the manipulation of language and text, including the use of rhymes, changes in punctuation and grammar, and word painting.

    The final work, Syntax, takes the same approach to text as used in Pages with a figurative source of controlled improvisation for the percussion part, while the organ part is traditionally notated. Through both notated music and text, I explore the concept of the phrase. Instead of using the minimalist presentation of text found in Pages, I utilize parameters like font size and various forms of visual distortion to assist in creating a sense of musical development in the text part. Performance can be found at

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International