Improvisation

Merel loves to improvise. Her style can mostly be described as “free classical”, with a classical sound and from a classical context (opposed to a typical Jazz sound or approach). Until 100 years ago classical composers and performers used to improvise a lot. Apart from the organ scene this skill has almost completely disappeared from the classical music scene. Merel wants to give this a new impulse, as she believes in the power of creating music on the spot. The result is a unique performance, that was never there before and will never be repeated, that grasps the atmosphere of time and place in sound.

Improvised music has been backed by science to contribute a lot to audience engagement and stimulate several areas in the brain both for musicians and audience members (more info see below).

Merel has improvised in concerts and CD recordings with a.o. Eric Vloeimans, Robin Euwbanks, Herman van Haaren, Oene van Geel, Marc van Vugt, Ties Mellema, Remy van Kesteren, Martin Fondse, and Jaap Zwart.

Here is a recent improvisation Merel did with famous organ player Jaap Zwart:

And here is  a short clip from a more jazzy improvisation, a spontaneous collaboration with the Gideon Tazelaar Trio:

News article about the Guildhall/Imperial College Improvisation Study:

Researchers have found that listeners engage with classical music more when musicians improvise.

A collaboration of researchers from Imperial College London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama examined the electrical signals in the brains of musicians and listeners.
Although improvisation is not commonly associated with classical music, the new study suggests that introducing elements of improvisation into classical concerts could increase audience engagement.

The team created a live concert, with a chamber music trio playing the same piece of music twice, once in an improvised fashion and once without improvising.
The three musicians, along with two audience members were wired up to a machine known as an electroencephalograph. This machine measures and records the tiny electrical signals sent between brain cells.
By comparing the brain signals produced during both the improvised and non-improvised versions of the performance the researches were able to show a clear difference in brain activity during each piece.

An area of the brain known to be involved in sustained attention, working memory and the inhibition of responses, known as the Brodmann 9 area was much more active in both musicians and listeners during the improvised performances. This indicates that the audience were much more engaged when listening to classical music containing improvised elements.”

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