Baroque Influenced Improvisation
In line with Emma Sky's post from September, on the topic of combining hip hop with classical training, I would like to discuss my new project, the Luce Trio. We are three musicians with a jazz background, performing the music of Bach, Handel and John Dowland.
I have in the past few years had a growing interest in early music, finding that much of my time it is all I will listen to for weeks. I had been working out the problem of how I could bring it into my performance repertoire, without having any connections to the classical world or any real experience playing with chamber ensembles. I decided to start my own group with musicians that I felt could interpret this music in their own way.
Thus began the Luce Trio, featuring fellow BML teacher, Chris Tordini, on bass and Ryan Ferreira on guitar. I chose the instrumentation of electric guitar with effects, acoustic bass and saxophone to give the music a different character right off the bat. On top of that we improvise over the themes. I went through and translated the original scores into chord symbols where possible, simplified sections, and opened it up so we could play them more freely while still keeping the spirit of the piece.
ARRANGING THE MUSIC
On Cantata 159, by JS Bach, I used only the intro to the bass aria. It is originally played on oboe, and when I first heard it, it sounded so much like a soprano saxophone that I had the idea of playing it on one. The melody also has beautiful chromaticisms, flat nines and flat thirteenths, which made me think of using it in a jazz context. I analyzed the harmony, wrote out standard chord symbols, C, C/B, Am, Adim, Em etc... and it's become a nice short tune that's really fun to play over.
On the piece Lascia Ch'io Pianga, from the opera Rinaldo by GF Handel, I moved the A section from the original 3/4 to 4/4 and added a simple counter-line in the guitar. On the version here we stay in 4/4 for the "bridge" before returning to the A section, resulting in a standard AABA song form, making the tune easier to play over and more open to improvisation. On the record I returned the bridge to it's original 3/4 meter and extended form, which we still improvise over, it's just harder!
We recorded in the church last week and it went beautifully. Stay tuned for the CD.