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Handel

The

improvisation project

[notes and resources]


Ombra Mai Fù
from Serse HWV 40 (1738)
G. F. Handel
arr. Jonathan Morris
Larghetto


Soprano         

        
                 

3
        
     
Piano
 f
p
          
              

       


           
               
         
         
   
f

        
p
    
         

  
15

     
3

  


 
Om - - bra mai - fù di ve - ge -

         
3
            
         
           
p

             
      
       
2

   
22
  

          


- ta - bi - le ca - ra ed a - ma - bi - le so - a - ve più, om - bra mai - fù

       
        

            

  
       
   
                  

         

29

     
          


di ve - ge - ta - bi - le ca - ra ed a - ma - bi - le so - a - ve più, ca - ra ed a -


       
    
           
  
           
 
                   
      

                        
36


ma -bi - le, om - bra mai - fù di ve - ge - ta - bi - le ca - ra ed a - ma - bi - le

             
               
  
          
              
 
           
      


3

 
           
43 3

 




so - a - ve più, so - a - ve - più.
   3
     
              
   
  
       


       
    

       
 

48

     


        
 
    

 

          

   

 
  
       

       

Breakdown of Handel’s chords:
Below is a measure-by-measure (bar-by-bar) breakdown of the chords for Ombra
Mai Fù. There are so many chords we thought we’d lay the chart out like this for
extra clarity!

Measures 1–7: F | C7/G | F/A | Bb C7/G F | C | C9/Bb | F/A

Measures 8–14: C7/G | F | F C7/G F/A | Bb Am/C | G7/D | C C7 F | Bb Csus4 C7

Measures 15–21: F | F | Am | Dm | F/A Bb | F | Bb C7/G F

Measures 22–28: C | C9/Bb | F/A | Bb Gm C | F | C7/G | F/A

Measures 29–31: Bb/D C7/E F | C7/Bb F/A | Gm6 Dm/F

Measures 32–35: A7/E A7 Bb | Gm Asus4 A | Bb Gm | C7 F

Measures 36–37: C C9/Bb | C9/Bb F/A C7/G

Measures 38–42: F C7/G | F/A | Bb Am/C | G7/D | C C7/Bb F/A

Measures 43–47: Bb Csus4 C | Bbsus2/D (hold!) Bb/D | Bb F/C C7 | F C7/G | F/A

Measures 48–52: Bb Am/C | G7 | C/E C F | Bb Csus4 C7 | F

Note: Rhythm is not notated here. It might be useful to compare with the score to
understand where each chord is placed—each line roughly corresponds to each line
in the score. Of course, when you are improvising, you are free to make up your
own rhythms. This just shows the basic skeleton of the music.
Bill’s simplified ‘pop ballad’ version:

œ ™ œ œ™ œ ™ œ™ œ
œ™ œ ™ œ œ œ w
F C D‹ B¨ C C9/B¨ F/A
4
& b4 w œ™ œ™ œ w
3

&b Œ J œ™ œ œ™ œ ™ œ œ™ œ™ œ œ ™ œj ˙
8 B¨ C F B¨ C F/A B¨ C B¨6 F/A
œ w
w

œ™ œ™ œ #œ œ œ ˙
4 Œ œ œ 4 ˙™ ™™
14 C7/G D‹9 A B¨ G‹ A(“4) B¨ C
2 4
&b J J œ w w
Bill’s OMF jazz progression:

Fmaj7 | C9 | Dm11 | Bbmaj11

C9 | C9/Bb | Am7 | Bbmaj7, C9 |

Fmaj7 | Bbmaj7, C9 | Am7 | Bbmaj7, C9 |

Bb6, Am7 | Gb7, Fmaj7 | A7, Bbmaj7 |

Gm, Asus4 | Bbmaj7 | Gm7/C, Gbmaj7+/C...


Links and further reading

Handel’s Ombra Mai Fù performed by countertenor Andreas Scholl:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7XH-58eB8c

Recordings of classical improvisation:

Happy Birthday in the style of Chopin, performed by Jean-


Jacques Hauser (a.k.a. Tartarov): https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=OnTm-b124Qk

Same performer, using the same theme, in the style of Mozart:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ5FkHVDRt8

Gabriela Montero improvising on God Save the Queen: https://


www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0qVSTZYISU

A channel with many recordings of classical improvisation: https://


www.youtube.com/user/improvelectronic

Hugo van Neck improvises on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy: https://


www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFU00AIkDyo

These are just a few examples, there are many more!

Social media links:

Jonathan:
https://www.facebook.com/popularpianoimprov
https://twitter.com/PopPianoImprov

Bill:
https://www.facebook.com/billhiltonpiano
https://twitter.com/billhilton

Morgana:
https://www.facebook.com/morganawjones
https://twitter.com/morganawjones