Jam on the great classics

This week I’m hunting for Great Classical Riffs.

What are the pieces of classical music you’ve always wanted to jam along with? What are the riffs, melodies, rhythms and chord progressions that you’ve always wanted to pull out of an orchestral piece to turn into loops for improvising over?

I’m creating a Jam on three great classics for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on the 19th April. I’m still choosing the ‘moments’ of music to use. One definite is the Romance from Lietenant Kije, by Prokofiev. You probably know the tune – Sting borrowed it for the song ‘Russians’. It’s a lovely, solemn Russian melody in Aeloian mode.

Other ‘moments’ I’m thinking of including is the driving, rhythmic opening of the Dances of the Young Girls from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring… but I’ve done a whole jam on The Rite of Spring before, so it’s not a new idea. There are some funky syncopated rhythms from The Soldier’s Tale (also by Stravinsky) that could work well…

A friend suggested the 6-8/3-4 rhythm of ‘America’ from West Side Story. I like the idea of this very much. A quote that is purely rhythmic could be teamed with a harmonic or melodic idea from another piece.

Music for jamming needs to be in a key that can be played on open strings by beginner string players… and also be in a key signature that doesn’t transpose into a tricky multiple-sharps key signature for the Bb instruments! It needs to be simple enough to be memorised quickly, and have sufficient interest to be looped so that people can solo and riff over the top of it.

What favourite musical ‘moments’ do other people have, from the classical music world?



3 comments so far

  1. Linda on

    Love your ideas! Why not post an mp3 of the performance or jam session? 🙂

  2. Linda on

    PS. “America” is a great idea–now you’ve got me singing it- thanks a lot! 😉
    You’re tunes are much loftier than mine. My third graders will improv to any folk tune with your basic I,IV,V changes.

    • musicwork on

      We do it all aurally, and participants choose the notes that they know, that work for them. So we don’t end up doing a lot of explanation – chord progressions could make things slower in our context, I suspect – so it’s not loftier at all!

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