Improvisational Playing Explained: “Upon What Subject Shall I Play?”

Feb 7, 2020 | News, Off the Hook Arts

Ever heard the great Beethoven’s brilliant improvisational techniques explained in a 110-year-old house? Off the Hook Arts artistic director Bruce Adolphe eloquently explained improvisational techniques at the beautiful home of Betsy Markey and Jim Kelly on Feb. 6, 2020. 

Adolphe kept the audience engaged with humor, letters written about Beethoven and his “eccentric” personality, and demonstrations. Even someone with absolutely no musical training could follow along and enjoy what Adolphe discussed during the event. 

For improvisation, there are several simple techniques that players use to keep their audience engaged. Adolphe mentioned the diminished seventh and repetition, among other skills that make improvisation easier for artists. 

Whenever Adolphe took to the piano, he dazzled the audience with Beethoven-esque improvisation, lulling the crowd into a dream state before jolting them from it with a series of strong chords. 

The improvisation always sounded complex, but Adolphe would break down his technique, proving that a few simple techniques was what it took to make the piece and stating, “The basic techniques are not mysterious. They can be used in any way which makes it sound mysterious.”

Following the demonstration was another beautiful reception catered by Sayanni Catering. 

Off the Hook Arts would like to thank Betsy Markey and Jim Kelly for volunteering their beautiful home for this brilliant talk.