Jeffrey Agrell

Blues for D.D. by Jeffrey Agrell – Oboe & Piano (with Diana Doherty!)

Blues for D.D. for Solo Oboe by Jeffrey Agrell

Blues for D.D for solo oboe by Jeffrey Agrell, performed by D.D. (the incomparable Diana Doherty).

Eccentric Dances for Solo Tuba by Jeffrey Agrell. Soloist: Andrew Dolgon

Gospel Time by Jeffrey Agrell (video)

I like to think of the notated versions of my compositions as beginnings, not ends. I am always happy when performers inject their own visions and imaginations into my music. Composers don’t know everything. If we make performers partners, we will have a lot more varied and interesting performances. Why should a composition be frozen forever in one single version (recordings tend to make us think that there is only one valid version of a piece). The performance below of my Gospel Time for trombone quartet is good evidence of great imagination. There is no singing in my version – it was delightful to see that they dared to transform the first section into a sort of wordless sung hymn. There were more liberties in the middle – with a spontaneous oom pan section – what fun! They also had fun with the ending – more singing; plus a late coda encore. Good for them. I really enjoyed their performance, and clearly, so did the audience

Composition Tip #17: Improvise!

Improv Games Book CoverImprovisation is where music is born, and it behooves us as composers to do a lot of it.

Learn to improvise on both a melodic and a percussion instrument. Piano is an ideal place to start for any composer, since you can do melody, bass, harmony, and rhythm. But any instrument is good, and the more, the merrier.

Jazz is great, but remember, improv doesn’t have to be jazz; you can improvise music in all kinds of styles (march, dirge, lullabye, fanfare, children’s song, etc.).

Improvise with other people! You will harvest great inspiration (and get to steal a lot of ideas) if you improvise with others.

(Blatant plug alert). If you don’t improvise much but would like to, you might check out 1) my improv web site (Improv Insights) and 2) one or more of my classical improv books:

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians (354 p.)

Improvised Chamber Music

Improv Duets

Improv Games for One Player

(all published by GIA)