Hopefully you have been well in the last few months. We were so busy, we didn't even have time for a newsletter! :-D

We have quite some videos for you to 'unpack' in the next few weeks, like a Tartini Challenge, a video about ornamentation according to Tartini and some ideas how to limit yourself in improvisations from different time periods.

We also share some photos from the wonderful things we have been doing in the last few months, like the Bach-inspired improvisation concert with a live-painter in Leipzig, our Bal Masque, Game of Themes and our presentation at the Sweelinck Festival. Finally, we also said goodbye to the old building of the Conservatory, where we managed to teach on the last day of its use as a building for music. This building is where The Scroll Ensemble started and did many student concerts, exams and lunch concert performances. 

In our last newsletter of the year we of course want to wish you a wonderful holiday and all the best for the New Year.

The Scroll Ensemble - 
Robert & James
Congratulations to our regular guest performer Bert Mooiman, who just finished his PhD, researching 19th-century improvisation! His concert presentation was amazing, improvising on a given theme on the organ, harmonium and piano! His dissertation will be available in the Leiden University online repository.


This month we are looking at Tartini's Ornamentation Treatise. We are describing his musings on basic ornaments like the trill and the appoggiatura first. In improvisation it's not only about creating hoards of new notes, but also about the elegance of smaller ornaments: both in written music AND in the music we improvise we tend to forget about the basic ingredients of ornamentation.

At the end of Tartini's treatise we find information about so-called modes, or longer ornaments. He differentiates between natural and artificial modes. This first category is very interesting, because he says these are ornaments that people apply naturally, even when they never studied music, perhaps singing a street song.
What do these natural ornaments sound like? We are teaching you several, every day one (you can of course take your own tempo) and we have even written a special air where all the basic building blocks for this air come together, so you can practice optimally. Click on the image above or this link.

Before getting into Tartini we focused on limitations. In other words, how can you focus your materials so that you only have a few options to choose from and don't get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities. Or perhaps, vice versa, be inspired by a certain limitation, which might challenge you to craft your skills in a specific way.
We did these videos and improvisations as a duo, because that was what we had available at the time. But this could also be done with more people or on your own!

Above you see our video on limitations inspired by the medieval/renaissance concept of a hexachord. Focusing on only 6 notes with specific characters each was an age-long adage for inspiring improvisations.

Below you find two videos and two performances of improvisations inspired by Bartók's Lullaby from his 40 duets for violins and an idea from the YouTuber David Bruce. We hope you will enjoy them!
Use 1, 2 or 3 notes in the melody as a restriction: how can you improvise your accompaniment?
Improvisation done during the previous lockdown on Zoom. The 1-2-3 challenge provides an excellent framework to not care too much about latency issues (delay in the internet).
Bartók's Lullaby has a very small amount of different notes in each part. BUT, each part has a different set of notes, which makes for interesting combinations and possibilities as a duo!
Bartók inspired improvisation on Oboe da Caccia and Violin. The audience decided which notes each of us could play.


Robert de Bree, James Hewitt und Iason Marmaras improvisierten fantasievoll und meisterhaft in immer wechselnden Besetzungen: Cembalo, Gesang, Violine, Bratsche, verschiedene Blockflöten und Barockoboe, was für eine musikalische Farbenpracht! 
(Robert, James and Iason improvised imaginatively and masterly in always changing instrumentations: harpsichord, voice, violin, viola, different recorders and baroque oboe, a musical blaze of colours!)

In Leipzig (September) we got to be part of the improvisation festival where we improvised inspired by Bach and a live painter, and taught several classes. Leipzig also saw the happy reunion with long-time friend and Scrolly Iason Marmaras. This was a performance to remember!
Last August we did two 'tours' at the same time! In Game of Themes the audience told us what to improvise in playful ways borrowed from Theatre Sports. Bert Mooiman joined us in concert where especially the Shostakovich sonata for Violin and Piano on a theme from the audience still reverberates in the halls of memory. 

We also put together a Bal Masque, inspired by historical bals, the stories we wanted to tell about isolation and whatever else came to our fanciful minds. We ended up with a beautiful performance, where the audience also danced, interspersed with our stories from bals in the past. 

We are looking forward to performing these programmes again in the future!
Last October also included the Sweelinck Festival, where we presented our research on learning to improvise from Sweelinck's variations and Echo Fantasias. A fascinating day with many surprising viewpoints on Sweelinck and improvisation and a beautiful concert at the end.
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