From Chapter I. PRELIMINARY
Improvisation, or extemporization, is the art of creating and performing music at one and the same time.
As music is the combination of well-balanced rhythmical phrases, welded together by the symmetry of form, so the mere rambling from chord to chord, without aim or design is not extemporization, since it is not music.
It is frequently said that the power of "creating and performing music at the same time" is a gift, but this is only true to a "very limited" extent. "Fancy," or the " power of imagination," is undoubtedly a gift, and to this power the student must turn for the invention of his original themes, and of the phrases or figures that he will need in the development of his movements. To this extent, therefore, the beautiful German word for improvisation - "phantasiren" to "fancy" - is appropriate.
But beyond this power of imagination, which will only assist the musician in the origination of his themes, there is the great power of "development," on which he will depend, to work out "from" this created theme the completely-balanced movement. And while the creation of melody is a gift, the power of development is to be readily attained by properly directed study.
Nor must the student approaching the art of extemporization fear that the absence of the gift of creating melody may frustrate the attainment of his object. Let him remember that the creation of "original" melody is a great rarity in the present day, but that the power of "imitation" is possessed in a greater or less degree by all.
If, therefore, unable to create an absolutely original theme, let him base his movement on a theme shaped like "someone else's original theme," his working out of it is certain to be different, and by degrees only the "style" of the theme will be not his own.
Finally, let him who would extemporize "without due form," and without any attempt at development of his theme, remember - that rambling incoherence, without form or design, is meaningless, valueless, and is not music, which alone attains its power and effect over mankind by the directness and force it contains in the perfection of its rhythm, the even balance of its parts, and the complete connection of its varied sections.
It is pre-supposed that the student, in taking up the study of extemporization, is already thoroughly acquainted with harmony, and with the resolutions of the various discords of modern theory. Without this previous knowledge, it would of course be impossible to adequately study this branch of the musical art.
As extemporization lies chiefly within the province of the organist, this work is designed more especially for his use. Yet all that applies to the extempore playing of the organist, who needs it so frequently in the exercise of his duties, applies equally to the pianist desiring to acquire the same power.
The present work treats the subject in two sections, firstly, the extemporization of "the theme," and secondly, the development of "the movement" from such theme.show more