Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings   --- SAYS WIKIPEDIA.

That seems about right. The most poignant pieces being "in the moment" and "immediate environment and inner feelings". Inner feelings isnt the most desirable of terms, but ya know. As we grow as musicians, and gain more tools, often the "in the moment" piece can get lost. We find more tricks, licks, scale choices, things we think people should hear and know about us, things they shouldnt. That all gets in the way of finding a more honest way to improvise. If we are indeed reacting to our surroundings in the moment, the emotions of the day, night, week, whatever is inside that needs to come out, I think thats when the heaviest of musical moments happen. When the whole room comes alive and we all know we've just been part of something human. Thats what I want every night I have the fortune of playing. The tricks, scales, licks, voicings, piece is all wonderful when looked at as acquiring tools to more honestly express, not necessarily to impose upon the music thats already happening. This is all of course assuming we want to improvise, sometimes we don't.

Its really not an entirely novel concept, we improvise in most all that we do. What makes improvisation in music a special experience, more notable than that of a conversation we have with a friend? I think its first that playing music, and improvising, comes of a language that is universal, and only requires the impulse to use it. It is a language we all speak, all we need to do is look at children and the way the gravitate towards a rhythm innately, or a melody. My first impulse on guitar was to make stuff up. I still do that every time I practice, then I forget it. Its fun, and keeps music fun for me even if Ive just spent hours on a Parker head or working out a tune, whatever it may be, then to just play is freeing and often more potent.

The cliche is that improvisation is spontaneous composition. I guess, really to me its telling a story when we're more deliberate, whether its one we want to tell or not, though reaching further, if we free ourselves to take part in "reacting, making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings" (thanks Wikipedia), whats left is be a diary for all to read. There's also the case where there is a real lack of tools or vocabulary and people are making stuff up, which is sometimes quite beautiful, usually when the improviser is either aware of the situation of limited tools or entirely unaware of it, but anyhow, thats a whole 'nother post. Often the most transcendent moments Ive had improvising come when not playing the guitar, if we all switch instruments or I sit alone with an instrument I'm no good at, have little awareness of how it "should" be played, beacuse I dont have the self expectations, which turn into limitations, of being good at what Im doing.

Some people more eloquent and intelligent than I and their thoughts on improvisation





CB June 01, 2011 @07:49 am

Yeah man! Excellent.

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