Roger Aldridge
Roger Aldridge
Roger Aldridge
@roger-aldridge

Beyond Notation


By Roger Aldridge, 2015-03-04
Beyond Notation

Whenever people ask me to describe my music I often include the words fun and adventure. These qualities are expressed in how I encourage performers of my music to think of what I have written as being a point of departure, to discover  their  vision of the music, to experiment with it, and find ways for the music to be a fresh, fun, and adventurous experience each time it is performed. 

For that to happen, I usually do not compose music that is completely notated. The amount of music that I notate is on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale are extended pieces like  Donut Music  and  Buzzards In Love  which incorporate improvisation within a highly-notated work. At the opposite end of the scale are minimalist pieces like  New Tango No. 1  and  Smaller Ups And Downs  which have a small amount of notated music and use a particular concept for an improvisational framework. These improv-based pieces are dependent upon the performers to bring the music to life. By having a sliding scale of notation, ensembles interested in performing my compositions can choose the pieces that are a match for how much improvisational freedom they want to have in the music. 


I understand how music can have different expressive interpretations given to it by directors and performers. However, I want to go beyond that to embrace a spirit of "Let's see where we can go with this". That is, 
for performances of my music to be a journey of discovery -- a collective creative process between the composer, performers, director (if one is used), and the audience -- in which the music is alive, spontaneous, and it continues to evolve with each performance. I think of this creative process as being like a jazz solo. 

I enjoy being surprised when performers take my music in directions that I had not thought of.  There is an element of risk with this approach; however, that is part of the fun and adventure.  

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