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I don't know much about music theory but this part seems to require you to improvise or something (1st & 2nd link) , if so how do you learn to improvise something like this, where to start and such?. I know nothing about jazz and improvisation. And also, what are those chords that's like a bunch of adjacent notes played together? Due to my lack of experience and knowledge, I've never seen anything like this.(3rd & 4th link). The part tells you to use your palm? Like gentlely slaping on your piano or something? I'm so confused. I don't know how to play this. The notes are there and I tried to just press them, It sounds garbage. Certainly sounds nothing like the audio that's played along with this score. Can somebody please explain what's happening here. Any help is appreciated, Thanks.

excerpt 1

excerpt 2

excerpt 3

excerpt 4

excerpt 5

Original video:

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    Let's cover some basics: 1) this appears very much to be a piece for piano. Can you confirm? 2) can you name the piece, composer, and where you encountered it? Fortunately, there's a lot of explanatory text here. It all seems pretty clear; are there any of the text instructions that aren't clear to you? Let's start with those. Aug 15 at 15:32
  • yes, it's a piece for piano, this is link where you can listen to it, the composer is the person who runs this channel. the screen shot that i took above is in somewhere between the first 7 and 8 minutes which is the first piece of this set youtu.be/U2vxWW8igHc
    – Tg Vy
    Aug 15 at 15:40
  • so beautiful, highly recommend you check them out
    – Tg Vy
    Aug 15 at 15:43

2 Answers 2

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These sections give you, the performer, some liberty to make some decisions and "randomize" some notes, but within certain boundaries. (Note, you might use the word "improvise" in discussing this, but usually it means something much more free, like completely making up a melodic "solo" over a set of chords.)

The first excerpt has the text note: "R.H. and L.H. [right hand and left hand] play at random any notes given." That would seem to mean: of the noteheads printed in that measure, select any of those notes at random. The preceding measure is similar in range and offers a model: the rhythm is eighth notes (more on that later), the melodic contour is uneven (that is, it "jumps around" between notes rather than arpeggiating straight up or down), and most notes are played singly, except for a couple of double stops. The note confirms this idea, "composer generally plays only one note at a time." This seems confusing—composer?—but it amounts to a suggestion, and the composer Mike Ring is referring to himself in the third person. "You do whatever you want using these notes—buuuut, I don't usually play them as block chords; I usually play single notes."

As for rhythm of this section: The notes used here start two measures earlier, with a mixture of quarter and eighth notes. The performance video makes it clear that these are not intended as a strict rhythm, but as a kind of notated rubato, played very freely. The accel. in the next measure means "speed up gradually," to the point that the next excerpt requires the text note "steady tempo; 16th notes," meaning "the gradual increase in speed has reached the point of 16th notes; stop getting any faster." The entire piece, by the way, seems extremely free in tempo, in a spirit indebted to the French Impressionists (and sports a Monet painting, and a movement titled "Water Lilies on the Seine").

"High D played at random anytime in measure w/ l.h." is pretty self-explanatory. The notehead with no stem is a high d. Play the other notes in the measure as normal with your right hand. At some random point, as you please, use your left hand to play a high D.

For the cluster of low pitches, marked "Use palm": I could be wrong, but it sounds possible to me that the performer has reached over the music desk of a grand piano and touched the strings directly. Presumably this would mean to strike or brush a cluster of neighboring low-range strings with your palm, and would take some experimentation with technique. If I'm wrong, then it's playing the keys as usual, but mashing a cluster of neighboring keys with the palm of your hand rather than individual fingers.

By the way, there is a lot of French in the expressive markings of this piece. I would recommend looking up anything you're not familiar with, like chantant (singing) or avec energie (with energy).

Finally: The composer himself has posted the piece, provides his email address, and welcomes contact. If you are interested in performing the piece or need continuing clarification, probably the best thing is to contact him directly.

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  • thank you so much!!
    – Tg Vy
    Aug 15 at 16:01
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This isn't jazz, and the result is meant to sound 'random' rather than 'good'. We're not looking for anything you could put chord symbols to! With that in mind, just follow the instructions. There're pretty clear.

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  • What is the meaning of words random and good put in quotation marks? Aug 15 at 17:23
  • Not jazz but I'm not sure what it is. Debussy without the bones? The notation's out of synch with the sensibility. Not my cup of tea. Aug 16 at 1:43

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