concerto for anybody

for any two to five players (possibly more)

a little weird to look at, at first, but actually rather easy to put together.

usually runs 12-15 minutes, but can be longer or shorter.


It is an unfortunate casualty of classical pedagogy that improvisation is not normally a part of one's classical music training. It certainly was not part of mine and I often feel that it takes a great effort to make up for that loss. As much as I love jazz, I am bothered by the fact that it has practically become synonymous with improvisation in America — many musics incorporate improvisation, and Western Classical used to, as well. We classical folk of today owe a lot to the jazz innovators who kept improvisation alive in modern society, for showing the "industrial state" a key ingredient missing in their values-system. Without them, improvisation might have really died in the western world with the early-Romantic tradition (or the last church organist).Yet, what seems to happen is that classical folk feel that they can't learn to improvise unless they enroll in the school of bebop. Nothing wrong with the school of bebop, either, but that's only one of many ways of swinging, as it were. I think it's important to use what you know to get at what you don't; we classical folk have a lot of musical material and skills to bring to the improvisation table, so why not start with that instead of starting all over? This piece is an attempt to get that ball rolling.

I started looking at "variable instrumentation" pieces in post-1950s classical — music that any instrument can play — for inspiration. Many of these pieces by John Cage, Christian Wolff, Frederic Rzewski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, to name but a few, have aspects of the music that are left to chance and often involve improvising in a way unrelated to jazz. Once I had seen what they had done, I set out to write my own variable instrumentation piece that addressed the issues of improvising that I wanted to deal with: that it not be style-specific and that it could be played by absolutely anyone of any level of ability with or without an instrument. I simply set up a framework with some parameters and guidelines to follow. None of the pitches or rhythms you will hear during this piece was written by me; the performers are making that up entirely on their own.


Do consider making a donation (of any amount, but let's say $10), if you choose to perform this piece, make copies of it, use it for educational purposes, if it has improved your life in any way. Otherwise, yes, it's yours for free. It is copyrighted, so give credit as necessary.