Impromptu

Composer: Duuren, Alex van
Instrumentation: Solo and Piano Instruments: Piano, Trombone
Genre: Contemporary

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with Piano

Impromptu for Trombone and Piano was written, as the title suggests, rather spontaneously. Classical improvisation has always been a favorite technique of mine; I very much enjoy simply sitting down at the piano and “composing” freely through improvisation, sometimes for up to forty-five minutes or more without a pause. These sessions for me are both personal and musical, but in a seemingly incompatible way, and with different affects. As a personal endeavor, I have always found improvisation to be essentially a meditative exercise for me; after a substantial bout of spontaneous music-making, playing the final note feels like emerging from a blurry and dream-like state. I’ve always enjoyed the markedly improved clarity and focus that I am granted in all my non-musical activities immediately following such an event. However in hindsight of my musical mind, these long sessions of improvisation have always been extremely unsatisfying…I’m not really able to retain any of the musical information which I created. The music that I made, with some choice moments of dictation-worthy value, is not only through-composed but essentially un-replicable. It has, of course, been suggested to me that I record these moments so that I might transcribe them later, however as with most creative things in this world, a true impromptu work requires complete spontaneity; I simply can’t improvise anything of real value on my own command. This is the reasons that I feel lucky to have wrote this piece.

I suppose it was luck of the draw to have a brief stint of enough patience to combine composition with short bursts of improvisation. As both a trombonist and a pianist, I am thankful to have the luxury of improvisational facility on both instruments. The result is that the work is truly a duet, in that both the trombone and piano parts contain “original motives”. It is not the case that the piano part serves to accompany a melody in the trombone, because some music which you hear from the piano came as improvisational ideas before a trombone part was superimposed on top of it. And, of course, the opposite is true as well. Essentially, Impromptu was written like a jigsaw puzzle made of oddly shaped pieces; two jagged and asymmetrical chunks become balanced only when they find each other. I hope you enjoy pulling the pieces apart as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

–Alex van Duuren

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