500+ Non-jazz games for performers, educators and everyone else written by Jeffrey Agrell
Spiral Bound, 354 pages
Why don’t classical musicians improvise? Why do jazz players get to have all the fun? And how do they develop such fabulous technique and aural skills?
With these words, Jeffrey Agrell opens the door to improvisation for all non-jazz musicians who thought it was beyond their ability to play extemporaneously. Gently, step-by-step, Agrell leads through a series of games, rather than exercises. The game format takes the pressure off of classically trained musicians, steering them away from their fixation on mistake-free performance and introducing the basic concepts of playing with music itself instead of obsessing over a perfect rendition of a written score.
Agrell draws a startling analogy with sports that illustrates the absurdity of the traditional approach to classically-oriented music performance:
Imagine if basketball were played the way we perform music today.
The greatest games would be recorded and aspiring players would be required to learn a pro’s every move by reading a description of each move from a written chart.
Nothing unplanned or unknown would be allowed to happen. No invention in the moment. No individual expression of ideas. No risking a series of less-than-perfect moves for the sake of imaginative play.
Starting with simple scale fragments, Agrell shows the way to break this artificial way of thinking about music making with an innovative approach to the business of creating melody, harmony, and rhythm, while working in tandem with others. This extensive collection of 566 games is for anyone and everyone who wants to learn to improvise, but has been afraid to try.
Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians can be used by solo individuals, groups from two to sixteen or more, and in classroom settings.
Jeffrey Agrell teaches horn, directs the Horn Choir, coaches chamber music, and performs in the Iowa Brass Quintet at the University of Iowa.
Part I: Introduction: The Who, Why, and How of Improvisation
1. Introduction: Why Improvise
2. Who Should Use This Book
3. Suggestions for Use and Sample Lists of Games
4. Musical Training for Improvisation
5. Technical Training for Improvisation
6. The Art of Accompaniment in Improvisation
Part II: Improvisation Games
7. Introduction to the Games
8. Improvisation Game Techniques
9. Motivic Development Techniques
10. Quick-Start Improvisation Game Favorites
11. Warm-Up Games
12. Rhythm Games
13. Accent Games
14. Dynamics Games
15. Melody Games
16. Form Games
17. Harmony Games
18. Bass Line Games
19. Aural Games
20. Nontraditional Score Games
21. Conducting Games
22. Energy/Mood Games
23. Texture Games
24. Timbre Games
25. Composition Games
26. Depiction Games
27. Technique Games
28. Accompaniment Games
29. Style Games
30. Text Games
31. Storytelling Games
32. Miscellaneous Games
33. Improv Set-Ups
34. Extended Combination Games
Part III: Resources
35. Improvisation Pirnciples
36. Improvisation Books, Articles, and Links
37. Constructing Improvisation Compositions
38. Comprehensive Musicianship Chart
39. Sound-Painting Gestures: The Basics
40. Chord Symbols Reference List
41. Scale Types: Study Groups
42. Scale and Chord Chart
44. Patterns and Scales
46. Familiar Tunes
47. Musical Styles and Forms
48. Improv Starter Generator
49. Creative Percussion Instruments
Part IV: Game Indices
Index A: Games in Alphabetical Order
Index B: Games by Chapter
Index C: Games by Number of Players
Index D: All Games by Chapter and Number of Players