Welcome to the Daily Improvisation, now into its third year.
My name is Eric Barnhill, and I am a pianist and instructor of the Dalcroze Method living in New York. Dalcroze is a specialized method of teaching musical skills and concepts through movement, voice and improvisation, and more information can be found here.
Dalcroze sits at the crossroads of my two central musical interests. Throughout my musical training I knew that I wanted to find a style of music making that was improvisational and generative, but that spoke the language of the great composers who were the reason I became a musician in the first place. Dalcroze was a successful path to speaking my own words in that language. Second, I believe that the classical music tradition can revitalize itself through re-embracing its historic relationship with the sciences. The techniques of the Dalcroze method connect with recent research on rhythms of the brain and motor theories of attention and perception. I have developed an application of Dalcroze Eurhythmics to children and adults with special needs, called Cognitive Eurhythmics, which integrates techniques from the Feldenkrais Method. More information on that is here.
My improvisations tend to begin with melodic motives and fragments. When improvising I feel more like an onlooker, as these components I’ve introduced coalesce into themes and melodies, then break down into new fragments that came out of the previous activity. Harmonic structures open and close like an accordion. Accompaniments shift from background to complement, and sometimes take center stage. There’s a lot of balance and symmetry, but that’s not my choice; the music is asking for it. Or perhaps it’s my mind that asks for it. I’m not sure there’s a difference, and I think the direction forward for classical music lies in this fertile verge of mind, body and melody.
I record these improvisations on a Roland digital piano in my living room and load them into my Mac and onto the web. I edit them using Fission and post them using Transmit. If you have other questions just ask! My homepage, which contains my email, can be found at http://cognitive-eurhythmics.com.