Improvisers (improvisation ensemble)

This course is addressed at performers who want to attain a broader view of rhythmical and structural fields. The rhythmical concepts of polyrhythm, polypulse and irregular groupings used in South India provide a very flexible method with which the student can experiment, without trying to copy Karnatic music. All the topics are re-structured to enable the student to work only with the concepts and techniques.

The expansion of rhythmical possibilities has been one of the cornerstones of improvised music from 1960s until now. Most improvisers nowadays face music influenced by, among others, Dave Holland, Weather Report, Steve Coleman, Aka Moon, Vijay Iyer, Miles Okazaki, Steve Lehman, Avisai Cohen, or elements from the Balkans, India, Africa or Cuba.

Today’s jazz, or recreation of standards following the rhythmical developments of these last decades, demand a new approach to rhythmical training, a training that will provide musicians with the necessary tools to face with accuracy more varied and complex rhythmical concepts, while keeping the emotional content. The programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ addresses ways in which the Karnatic rhythmical system can enhance, improve or even radically change the creation (be it written or improvised) and interpretation of rhythmically intricate jazz music.

The incredible wealth of rhythmical techniques, devices and concepts, the different types of Tala construction, the use of rhythm as a structural and developmental element and, last but not least, the use of mathematics to sometimes very sophisticated levels in South India, enable the western musician to improve and enhance their accuracy and/or their creative process and make the study of Karnatic rhythm a fascinating adventure of far-reaching consequences.

Therefore, this 4-year programme is directed at improvisers who want to attain a broader view of rhythmical and structural fields. The rhythmical concepts of polyrhythm, polypulse and irregular groupings used in South India provide a very flexible method with which the student can experiment without trying to copy Karnatic music. All the topics are re-structured to enable the student to work only with the concepts and techniques. Each year the student decides whether to continue onto the following year or not.

Improvisers tend to be performers and creators simultaneously. Therefore, the emphasis of the course lies on a combination of rhythmical techniques to improve their accuracy, along with creative concepts that can be used to compose pieces or improvise solos.

During the last two months of the year students will organize a group, or participate in one (trio - quintet), with which will they prepare a guided improvisation that will be performed at the end-of-year concert.

Course Structure

Classes take place once a week and are of two hours' duration. The maximum number of classes that can be missed is six out of the 28 theory/exercises lessons (excluding the last 8 weeks, in which the preparation of the final piece does not work as regular lessons and meetings to work on pieces are arranged whenever possible for the students and teachers). The student is required to work no less than 45 minutes a day on the material given in the lessons. 

The final grade is based on:

  • Proficiency of material in  the performance at the end of each year.
  • Theory exam at the end of the  year.
  • Attendance, homework and attitude.

The four-year programme has a 12-week introductory course. The student should have completed or should follow it at the same time as the first year of the programme.


Credits

The four-year programme ‘Contemporary improvisation through non-western techniques’, due to its characteristics, enables the student to choose from where credits can be taken.
Bachelors: 10 credits per year; the student can take these credits from any kind of ensemble direction, all of the free electives and AHK electives, and the exemption of an elective course of theory of the third year.
Masters: 10 credits per year (this can be taken as masters subject, ensembles or individual credits).