Musical Improvisation Basics - 8 Vital Things To Remember
This article discusses 8 vital things to remember as improvisers - whether advanced or just getting started:
1. Your technique is probably miles ahead of your ability to think.
This isn't just true for classical players. I've known lots and lots (and lots) of jazz players who have let their technique run the show as opposed to their brains. Happens all the time.
With players who are just beginning to improvise, this is vital to keep in mind. Slow down! Even at furious tempi, you can "long meter" melodic phrases that dance and skip over the fast tempo - thinking them in real time. And you can have great precision and musicality in doing so.
FYI, most players who play so fast you are asking yourself how can they think that stuff in real time - probably aren't really thinking that stuff in real time. Most are performing a memorized, yet impressive move. Sort of a human software, "sub-routine call." To me, not the real thing.
Personally, I'd rather listen to simple ideas that are inspired than impressive, over-thought, over-prepared ideas any day. Particularly when they are masquerading as "improvisation."
2. You will be playing unexpected notes (mistakes) in the best of situations.
Yes, I know, we're supposed to KNOW what we are doing. But to get good at anything, we have to stretch, and stretching means taking risks, and taking risks means making mistakes.
Over time, you really will be able to hear a melody and execute it flawlessly. But by then, you'll be stretching into new realms of harmony or rhythm and hearing more possibilities in melody - and making more mistakes. It really never stops, if you're doing it right.
3. Keep a music manuscript journal.
Write down any ideas that you have - chords, bits of melody, melodic shapes, anything. Use the notation system devised over hundreds of years. If you can't be precise, don't be. If all you can think of is a rhythm with undefined notes, write the rhythm with X's as the notes - defining them as non-specific. Non-specific is good.
4. Here's a big one - sing with your playing.
Start now. Start with your current repertoire. By doing so, we are unconsciously hooking up our brain with our voice with our instrument.
What we're reaching for is the ability to "sing" our lines as we create them, simultaneously playing the right notes on our instrument. That's a non-linear jump, but we can build the muscles for that now.
If you've ever heard a Keith Jarrett record, you've probably heard all the weird noises he makes with his phrases. Sounds like he's squeezing one out (and that's probably not far from the truth...). I think I can safely say that he is letting his phrases force the issue, physically and mentally. He doesn't sing perfect notes, but almost the intention of his lines - as I have said in the past, "riding the forward momentum of the moment's creation." You'll note that the intensity of his vocalizations seem phrase related, as opposed to note defined. He sure ain't singing melody.
So, if you can't sing your phrases, growl them. Get yourself to the next level by allowing the force of the music to drive the notes and phrases out of you. In time, they begin to align.
5. Here's a related one - Think in terms of phrases, as opposed to notes.
Be non-specific. Any way we can keep the big picture in mind is a very good thing. I have found that painting the big picture, tends to forgive the micro mistakes.
Another approach is to think in terms of texture as opposed to notes. This frees us from note definition and allows for us to discover the music that transcends note specific thinking.
6. Create some time every day for you to experiment and not sound good.
This process really does take a daily commitment to achieve. Spend a good 20 minutes playing stuff you are willing to sound outright "wrong." If you have to wear headphones with an electronic instrument in order keep the ego unmolested - so be it. But spend this time.
7. Mistakes often are the best means for discovering something that is unique to you.
This is a really big one. We are all shaped by a compilation of experiences, positive and negative, over the course of our life.
Why would music be any different?
When you make a mistake, you may find a new melodic idea, a new harmony, a new voicing. Write these down in your music manuscript journal (see above). They will become the basis for your own library of musical ideas that are unique to you.
A caveat. Your mistake generated idea may not be totally original. Your F minor 9 voicing may be the same one 40,000 other pianists may use. But it is your process that delivered the idea, and that process is entirely unique. It may make you write material that is particularly F minor 9 centric. Maybe that way, you'll write music that hasn't been thought of before coming from that point of view.
Music improvisation is a non-linear explosion of creative thought.
What makes us unique in life, works the same way in the music that we create. Even if you were an identical clone of someone, there is no one who has all of your experiences and made the mistakes you've made.
8. Finally, build a safe space for this development so you aren't dissuaded from your path.
This process is a very personal one. Sharing your results may not impress anyone except yourself for now. That's fine. Keep it private as needed. The last thing you need to do is show your journal to someone who says, "Oh yeah, I've seen that before. So and so did it this way, and so and so did it that way." Deflation does not breed continuity.
It's almost as though you are building your "Chi." In martial arts, "Chi" is the life force that is released upon a move (maybe that's what Jarrett is up to...).
You are interested in building your musical "Chi," because that will permit things to happen that won't happen any other way. Deflating it by sharing with the wrong people is counter-productive and makes little sense.
I hope that this article has been helpful to you. If you like it, gift it to someone. I only ask that you credit me as below:
©2005 Ben Dowling, the author of "The Metaphysics of Improvisation" - is a pianist, composer and an authority on music improvisation who publishes Music-Improv.com, a web site that provides useful paradigms and practices for musicians interested in expanding their ability to improvise.
Learn more about the conceptual and metaphysical underpinnings of musical improvisation by visiting http://www.music-improv.com
Celebrating William Kraft, Los Angeles New Music Legend - The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music - UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Celebrating William Kraft, Los Angeles New Music Legend - The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
A Warm Welcome Back to The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Spooky music planned for North County Winds' Oct. 8 concert in 4S Ranch - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Spooky music planned for North County Winds' Oct. 8 concert in 4S Ranch The San Diego Union-Tribune
Songwriter gigi finds a place for comfort with music, being on stage Albuquerque Journal
Willamette Country Music Concerts President Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Money Laundering - Department of Justice
Willamette Country Music Concerts President Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Department of Justice
Carrboro Music Festival returns with over 100 bands after past COVID-19 cancellations - The Daily Tar Heel
Carrboro Music Festival returns with over 100 bands after past COVID-19 cancellations The Daily Tar Heel
âThereâs endless choice, but youâre not listeningâ: fans quitting Spotify to save their love of music - The Guardian
âThereâs endless choice, but youâre not listeningâ: fans quitting Spotify to save their love of music The Guardian
Has streaming made it harder to discover new music? The Guardian
âMonarchâ Music Supervisor on How the Country Series Uses Classic Covers and Indie Artists - Variety
âMonarchâ Music Supervisor on How the Country Series Uses Classic Covers and Indie Artists Variety
Tell us about your best new music discovery in 2022 The Guardian
ASU's WVAS 'Radio Partner' for Inaugural Jazz Music Awards Alabama State University
Inaugural Lafayette Music Festival, âan idea long overdue,â puts dozens of bands on area stages - Boulder Daily Camera
Inaugural Lafayette Music Festival, âan idea long overdue,â puts dozens of bands on area stages Boulder Daily Camera
The Seductive Music of James Joyce's Ulysses Hyperallergic
Music on Main w/ Carolyn Wonderland City of Round Rock
Wet Leg, Stormzy & Rina Sawayama Win at 2022 AIM Independent Music Awards: Full Winners List - Billboard
Wet Leg, Stormzy & Rina Sawayama Win at 2022 AIM Independent Music Awards: Full Winners List Billboard
Singer-songwriter Jimmy Climbs is bringing 'neon pop' to Albuquerque's music scene - Albuquerque Journal
Singer-songwriter Jimmy Climbs is bringing 'neon pop' to Albuquerque's music scene Albuquerque Journal
Make-A-Wish child uses wish to develop music therapy program at Springfieldâs Mercy childrenâs hospital - KY3
Make-A-Wish child uses wish to develop music therapy program at Springfieldâs Mercy childrenâs hospital KY3
RosalĂa sounds like the future of pop music The Washington Post
Ragamala, An All-Night Show Of Indian Classical Music, Comes Downtown This Weekend - Block Club Chicago
Ragamala, An All-Night Show Of Indian Classical Music, Comes Downtown This Weekend Block Club Chicago
P-R Music Review: New Blackpink album fails to break pop music mold Plattsburgh Press Republican
Six Books That Music Lovers Should Read The Atlantic
Milton Nascimento says goodbye to the stage, but 'never to the music' The Washington Post
Music Professor to Begin Artist-in-Residency in Germany University of Arkansas Newswire
Grace Music Dept. Founder Accused Of Sexual Abuse Times-Union Newspaper
Morris: Indiana, the home of good, eclectic music Greenfield Daily Reporter
Arts Briefs: 'One Act Play' continues, Holiday Concert rehearsals, Live music in the valley â Methow Valley News - Methow Valley News
Arts Briefs: 'One Act Play' continues, Holiday Concert rehearsals, Live music in the valley â Methow Valley News Methow Valley News
Walker Hayes Talks âY'All Lifeâ Music Video And Talks Possible Collaboration With Nelly - CMT.com
The day the music died Coeur d'Alene Press
UVM Duo Retells Classic Fairy Tales with New Visuals and Music The University of Vermont
Jake Blount on his Afrofuturist folk climate eulogy: âWhat would music sound like when weâre dead?â - The Guardian
Jake Blount on his Afrofuturist folk climate eulogy: âWhat would music sound like when weâre dead?â The Guardian
Music at Noon returns at Troy Music Hall NEWS10 ABC
Morehead State's traditional music returns to IBMA | News | thetrailblazeronline.net - The Trail Blazer
Morehead State's traditional music returns to IBMA | News | thetrailblazeronline.net The Trail Blazer
Review | Lots of shenanigans, foot-tappinâ music in âThe Robber Bridegroomâ - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Review | Lots of shenanigans, foot-tappinâ music in âThe Robber Bridegroomâ Santa Cruz Sentinel
Coolio, âGangstaâs Paradiseâ Rapper, Dies at 59 The New York Times
Licking Heights Middle School Wind Ensemble to perform at state music conference - The Newark Advocate
Licking Heights Middle School Wind Ensemble to perform at state music conference The Newark Advocate
New music for the equinox Point Reyes Light
Art, Music, Food, Fun in McLean Virginia Connection Newspapers
Charli and Dixie DâAmelio on Season 2 of Their Hulu Reality Series, Transitioning From TikTok to Hollywood and Charliâs Potential Music Career - Variety
Charli and Dixie DâAmelio on Season 2 of Their Hulu Reality Series, Transitioning From TikTok to Hollywood and Charliâs Potential Music Career Variety
Greek Festival, Alasdair Fraser, and Masters of Hawaiian Music: 8 things to do this week - OregonLive
Kirk Franklin and Sony Music Entertainment Launch Second Season of Good Words With Kirk Franklin Today - Sony Music
Kirk Franklin and Sony Music Entertainment Launch Second Season of Good Words With Kirk Franklin Today Sony Music
Sept. 29-Oct. 2: Lively arts, music, shows and entertainment in and around Manchester - Manchester Ink Link
Sept. 29-Oct. 2: Lively arts, music, shows and entertainment in and around Manchester Manchester Ink Link
John Adams Captures the Music of Shakespeare The New Yorker
Avidâs Newest Pro Tools Software Release Propels Music Creativity and Productivity to New Heights for All Users - Yahoo Finance
Avidâs Newest Pro Tools Software Release Propels Music Creativity and Productivity to New Heights for All Users Yahoo Finance
Country Artist, Cowboy, & Troubadour Luke Bell Has Died at 32 Saving Country Music
The music lives on Apple
A Proclamation on Black Music Appreciation Month, 2022 The White House
A Guide to the Dance Music on BeyoncĂ©âs âRenaissanceâ The New York Times
Shazam turns 20 Apple
Is Old Music Killing New Music? The Atlantic
Pop Music's Nostalgia Obsession The Atlantic
The Best Music of 2021 The New Yorker
MoFi has been using digital all along, a scandal in the audio community The Washington Post
Apple Music Apple
Capitol Records just signed a virtual artist, FN Meka. He has over 10 million followers on TikTok. - Music Business Worldwide
Capitol Records just signed a virtual artist, FN Meka. He has over 10 million followers on TikTok. Music Business Worldwide
The 100 Greatest Music Videos â Rolling Stone Rolling Stone
If Seals Can Sing, Why Cant You?
It sounds like a side show, doesn't it? It does to me. But it's true; researchers have discovered that some varieties of seals really do sing.
Micing a Kick Drum
This months tip deals with micing kick drums.You wouldn't believe how many people ask me about micing their kick drums.
History of the Clarinet From the 19th Century
While composers had already begun to write music for the clarinet, such as Mozart with the Clarinet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet, it was the 19th century that saw an explosion of use of the clarinet in the music of most composers of the day. This was mainly due to two factors.
The Life and Music of Beatle George Harrison
Propelled into fame as one of the Beatles, along with Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr, George Harrison was known as the "quiet one" of the group, and also as the "spiritual one." He was the lead guitarist.
Celtic Music: The Japanese Connection
My friend, guitarist Brian Hughes, toured with the Chieftain's in Japan as an opening act with Loreena McKennitt. He then went on to perform with the Chieftains in North America and Europe when they were promoting their album Santiago.
The King of the Delta Blues Singers - Robert Johnson Still Stands at the Crossroads
Probably the most enigmatic Singer and Guitarist of the twentieth Century is now one of the most revered and respected of all Musicians who make up the Genre of the 'Blues'. I speak of course about the wonderful Robert Leroy Johnson.
Is Rhapsody Music Downloads Service Getting A Good Rhap?
Rhapsody music, from RealNetworks is one of several reputable legal digital services for legal music downloads. In order to download online music or hear songs from them you have to pay for them first.
Problems with humidity can lead to heartbreak for the classical (or other) guitarist. Excessive humidity or dryness can ruin an instrument probably quicker than you think.
Repetition is the Key to Learning Something Deeply
Repetition is the key to learning something deeply. It works most effectively when you are isolating a small amount of material, because the object of your focus will be more specific.
Ibanez SR400 Bass Guitar
The Ibanez SR400 bass guitar is very comfortableto play. The neck is thin up at the headstock, youcan move your hand along it well because of thenecks finish.
New M3 with Competition Package
The new competition package available for the BMW M3 is almost sad as it is wonderful. With everyone knowing of the strong rumors of the M3's power plant changing to a V8, it's almost heart breaking to think about the legendary straight 6 cylinder being laid to rest.
Flaming Guitars! Minarik Fuels The Excitement Of A New Generation Of Musicians
Celebrating an endorsement between G-Man Music and the fiery axe-makers known as Minarik Guitars, Scott G (The G-Man) reviews the Minarik Inferno X-treme.From the Telecaster to the Flying V to the Iceman to the Warlock, some guitar designs are forever branded on our consciousness, and now there's a new one: the Minarik Inferno X-treme.
CD Review: Amber - My Kind of World
Pop/Rock Recording Artist Amber, who has scored seven #1 Billboard Hits (and 3 more Top Tens) in her Career, including "If You Could Read My Mind", "This is Your Night" and "Sexual (Li Da Di)", is back! And she does not disappoint! "My Kind of World" marks the beginning of a new stage in Amber's career. Like Janet Jackson before her, Amber has taken complete creative "control" on this new project and the result is an artistic triumph with huge commercial appeal!The first Single "You Move Me" hit #1 on Satellite Radio Stateside and went Top Ten on the Billboard Dance Club Play Chart.
Hip Hop History
Rap music originated as a cross-cultural product. Most of its important early practitioners-including Kool Herc, D.
Killer Piano Playing Secrets of a Chord Addict!
I wish you could have seen me play the piano when I was just learning. I was the nearest thing to "hopeless" that you could imagine.
Defining The True Artist - Do You Have What It Takes?
"The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They are not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes, they are searching constantly, developing and refining their own unique voice.
Beginning Clarinet: The Very Start
Like starting with any instrument, beginning clarinet is a process of learning that involves both great achievement and the occasional setback. However, if the beginning clarinetist follows a few tips relating to clarinet care and clarinet playing, the success is sure to outweigh the setbacks.
"Who Else Wants to Get Screwed When Signing a Recording or Songwriting Deal?!?!"
You've got your recording (or songwriting) contract in hand and everything's coming up roses, right? You get your check, finally, but it's not quite what you expected. If you sign not knowing what's owed you then you might be shorted some well-deserved income.
Are iPods Changing the Way We Listen to Music
They're everywhere, and not only are they everywhere, they look cool too. Since its launch in 2001, 10 million have sold and 8 million of those were in 2004.
How Any DJ Can Increase Their Gigs and Profits By This Simple Strategy
The DJ industry is very competitive. There are many DJ's who are making huge amounts of money and then there are other DJ's who are struggling to find any gigs at all.
|home | site map|