My Three Improvisations for piano solo are not really improvisations at all, except that in the sense that I wrote them at the piano, trying out ideas as I went along. They are a completely notated set of three character-pieces, entitled Caprice, Elegy, and Dance, and although they are nearly 40 years old, I often play them and enjoy returning to them. Today, though, I might have given them a different title, to avoid confusion with ‘real’ improvisations…
Looking at them again today, I can see how the shape of the fingers on the keys inspired the musical ideas. In the first movement, Caprice, the interplay between the two hands seems to naturally expand from a five-finger position, and, as the hands are often close together, there is a tendency for the left hand to be on white notes and the right hand on black ones, the melodic shapes often arising from the conversation between them.
The second movement, Elegy, is a slow and expressive alternation between a melody in octaves and rich chords often based on superimposed triads. As the piece develops that melody in octaves is treated canonically between the hands, and the intervening chords are slightly elaborated, but they are always there as a restraining presence.
The last movement is a lively Dance – again there are many passages in octaves, interspersed with a melody in a kind of Lydian mode over a drone bass. Later on, as both these ideas are developed, the hands become close together, one on the black notes and one on the white, with the melody growing from both hands in a similar manner to the first movement, but rather more scherzando in feeling. (You can see my hands getting tangled up in the YouTube video!)
There’s a recording on YouTube here, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.
More about the music, and sample pages, here.