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STRUCTURE & IMPROVISATION IN MUSIC & DANCE

SPRING 2002

Kitty Brazelton, Music

Terry Creach, Dance



Brief Description:

Two courses will run in tandem: Terry Creach’s "Structure and Improvisation in Dance and Music" and Kitty BrazeltonŐs "Structure and Improvisaton in Music and Dance," and will essentially function as one course. Dancers and musicians from these two courses will meet once a week for class and regularly in self-designated rehearsals for collaborative explorations with compositional and improvisational structures.

Musicians will begin by looking at how and which collective sounds can be interpreted kinetically. They will build languages of collaboration between musicians and between dancers and musicians, experimenting with varying combinations of pre-composed structure and in-the-moment responses. Students will work from solo to full group and will be expected to develop solo scores, scores for groups, and participate in the development of others' scores. Scores will represent both degree of structure and degree of improvisation.

Dancers will begin with the basic physical components of all movement expression and work to develop individual vocabularies as well as duet skills, contact skills, and ensemble compositional skills. Students will be expected to develop solo scores, develop scores for groups, and participate in the development of others' scores.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 2


Syllabus

Readings and listening on the issues of structure and improvisation will be drawn from the following texts and recordings:

  • Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music by Derek Bailey, Da Capo Press, 1992.
    Bennington College Music Library ML 430.7 .B25 1993
  • Silence: Lectures and Writings by John Cage, Wesleyan University Press, 1961.
    Bennington College Music Library ML 60 .C13 S5 1969
  • Conversing with Cage / Richard Kostelanetz
    Crossett Library: MAIN / ML410.C24 K68 1994
  • Notes and Tones by Arthur Taylor–on order by Bennington College Music Library
  • Related listenings in Bennington College Music Library:

  • CD 694: Nishat Khan, sitar, Irshad Khan, surbahar, Shafaatullah Khan, tabla
  • LP 318: "Flamenco Music of Andalucia"
  • LP 1006: "The Romeros: The Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar"
  • LP 5730: French organist Marcel Dupré (Langlais’s teacher) plays organist/composer César Franck’s organ works
  • LP J383: Steve Lacy "Reflections…Monk" & LP J384 "School Days"
  • LP J162: "Coleman Classics 1" Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins
  • CD 536: "The New York School 2" includes works by Earle Brown, John Cage and Morton Feldman
  • CD 258: Karlheinz Stockhausen–"Stimmung" & CD 263 "Elektronische Musik 1952-1960"
  • LP J708: John Zorn 1986 "The Big Gundown"–music of Ennio Morricone
  • CD 280: Gavin Bryars–"The Sinking of the Titanic"
  • CD 468: Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis–"Deep Listening" (1989)

  • Expectations:

    During this course, we will measure the quality of your study by your responsiveness to:

    But the most important criterion will be your contribution as an artist: the decisions you make between structure and improvisation, shared and self expression, and the power with which the pieces you participate in, communicate to audiences.

    Terry and I expect a typical two-hour class to go as follows:

  • One hour for musicians and dancers separately. This hour can be devoted to discussion or developmental music rehearsal.
  • One hour for musicians and dancers collaboratively.
  • This time ratio may vary depending on what Terry and I think the class needs.
  • Musicians:

    It is very important that you and your instrument be warmed up and ready to start at 1pm no matter what the class agenda. Learn whatever time it takes you to be ready, and take it! I will enforce this because if I don’t we will end up with no time at all.

    For the same reason, I ask you to reserve 2 hours of rehearsal time per week outside of class. Initially you may be working one-on-one with a dancer, so it will be up to just the two of you to schedule, but as we progress to more complex collaborations, we will appoint leaders to coordinate and run these rehearsals. Expect to "lead" at least once. These rehearsals may involve musicians only or dancers too. We will decide based on what we are working on.

    Musicians & Dancers:

    To evaluate you for mid-term, we will be looking for some sort of performance statement or body of performance work. It is the nature of the course that this will occur in collaboration with others: dancers and/or musicians. Although you are interdependent, it is still your individual responsibility to make sure I have seen enough to make an evaluation.

    For the final evaluation, Terry and I hope to see the entire class mount a full-length public performance in which all students are represented. In truth, we hope you all will put on three or four such performances. The performance(s) should demonstrate personal choices by all participants as to balance of pre-designed structure and spontaneous improvisation. Beyond the artistic statement, the performance(s) should demonstrate an ability to deal with the logistics of putting on a performance: reserving a space, event promotion, stage management, lighting, etc. To help you with this, Terry and I will start class discussion about scheduling performance(s) as soon as possible.


    If you feel you need to solidify your basic musicianship, please use:

    Elementary training for musicians by Paul Hindemith, B. Schott’s Söhne, Mainz, 1946, 2nd edition revised 1949, 1974.
    BCML: MT 35 .H6 1974

    If you feel you need to solidify your basic understanding of Western harmony, please use:

    Basics of Music: Opus 1 by Michael Zinn and Robert Hogenson, Schirmer Books, 1987, 2nd edition 1994.
    BCML: MT 7 .Z75 1994

    Please ask questions.