The music heard here heavily reflects the regular supervision I received from Rudolf Lutz (Professor Emeritus at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland) from 2013 to 2017. This chapter as a whole should be considered as a codification of Lutz's methods for teaching musical improvisation as seen from my perspective and applied to my project and the musical language of my choosing (Schumann and his milieu).
I experienced Lutz's teaching method to reinforce similar values to Indian classical music improvisation pedagogy the way it is described by improvising guitarist Derek Bailey in his book Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music from 1992:
Most [Indian classical, BM] musicians learn to improvise by accident; or by a series of observed accidents; by trial and error. And there is of course an appropriateness about this method, a natural correspondence between improvisation and empiricism. Learning improvisation is a practical matter: there is no exclusively theoretical side to improvisation. Appreciating and understanding how improvisation works is achieved through the failures and successes involved in attempting to do it. Indian music with its long complex relationship between teacher and pupil has the only methodology or system which acknowledges these basic characteristics of improvisation. (Bailey 1992, 8)
While Bailey may still be correct in stating that Indian classical music is the only musical tradition where such an improvisation pedagogy is widespread, working with Lutz was similar in the sense that he rarely told me exactly what to play and allowed me to make my own musical discoveries through trial and error. Indian classical musician Viram Jasani explains to Bailey that "your teacher, when he's in the mood to teach you a particular raga, won't say to you, 'this is the scalic structure of the raga and these are the notes used in that raga' – what he will do is to play to you and tell you to listen and perhaps ask you to imitate certain phrases that he is playing" (Bailey 1992, 8). Lutz and I spent time engaging in a musical discourse that was similar to what Jasani describes – Lutz might play a phrase and ask me to continue it, for example, or we would occasionally have sessions where one person would play a phrase, the other would continue the thought, and this would continue back and forth between us for some time. These interactions helped me to find my own way of realizing a musical moment without Lutz ever necessarily telling me exactly what to do.
The terms Phase A, B, C, and D presented above are attributed to him and guided his teaching strategy as applied to my work and this project.
Overview of the following chapters
In the chapter On Sonic Signature, the roles that Schumann and I play in this project will be discussed in more detail by presenting the concept of sonic signature as a way of describing how music bears certain audible qualities that reflect the individual approach of a specific musical practitioner. The viewpoints of two prominent pianist-improviser-composers, Frederic Rzewski and Robert Levin, as to what is happening during improvisation will be analyzed in the chapter Between Listening, Forgetting, and Conceptualizing, to present a continuum that exists between these activities while improvising. In the Conclusion, the knowledge gained from this project will be described as lying within the realm of improvisation as practice, a category of improvisational behavior that circumvents the need for practice to be presented as art and that it can rather be intended for the development of one’s own music-making.