Improvise or not ?

Last night i had an interesting conversation,
and i have to explain first that if a conversation is interesting
then i might use the subject for this blog.
I won’t say the who and what, but the topic gets back on this blog.
Especially when i think its a good one to discuss.

This person IM’ed to explain a previous statement that was made.
It was about the karaoke guitar and that i took it the wrong way.
We talked about this and offcourse arguements where flying back and forth.
Making it a more interesting topic.

At one point was mentioned that Sound.
writes everything before he records his music, including the lead parts.
I know this is with the recorded versions
but i also knows he doesnt use sheets when he plays on SL.
Offcourse its easy, you know the songs allready and you change little things.
Everytime i hear him play a song it is a bit different then before.

Then the convo changed about improvisations.
And that is what i want to talk about today.

Does improvising excist or is it just some word used for a natural thing in music ?
When a musician plays a song two times, most likely it is a bit different.
The musician has some boundaries within he can work,
the key of the song, the rhythm, the chords, the melody.
They all set the marks for what he can and can’t play.

So i wouldnt call that improvising.

Normally people call improvising the technique
where one person plays a chord structure,
and someone else just plays whatever comes to his or her mind,
this is simply said offcourse.

Again i dont believe in this,
a chord structure sets the frame within you can do your thing.
I dont want to get to technical because non-musicians reads this too
but i shall give you an example

Lets say two buddies agree to do some improvising.
They use the scale of D Harmonic minor : D-E-F-G-A-bB-C#-D
The chords you can use are : Dmin-Faug-Gmin-Amaj-bBmaj-C#aug

The guy starts playing a 4/4 beat playing for instance : Dmin-Gmin-Amaj
the old 1-4-5 ( if it was good enough for Mozart then it sure is for this example )
The reason it is used so mutch is that this chord structure gives you all the notes of the scale.

Dmin = D-F-A
Gmin= G-bB-D
Amaj= A-C#–E

The other person must use these notes, if not then it sounds out of tune
( again simply said and this is nothing more then to show something, you can use other notes but still you are limited )

You can even specify it closer, some chords dont match that nice with other notes.
You have to pay attention to the rythm of the chords that are being played.

The music guides you,
you follow automatically and can not do whatever you want to do,
your instinct follows the music.
Is that improvisation in the true meaning ?
Not for me, for me their is no thing as improvisation.
Somebody plays something and you follow what he or she plays.
You have to, otherwise it sounds like crap.

You can say that with improvising you write real fast, in your head,
a part to the chord structure.
and play it as soon as you think of it, its dangerous,
you can not screw up because you cant change it as soon as you hit that note,
but still you automatically follow what is been played.

Lets make it more diffecult now.
The chord guy, gets wild and start to change scales and chords,
plays different rhythms.
Still the musician who improvises has to follow,
if the chord guy modulates in our example to Amaj.
you still have to follow him or her and adjust yourself to it,
meaning you got new tools to work with, but still it is all framed.

You can add other melodic instruments, that add new melodies,
still they all follow the previous things.
You Harmonise, you play counter melodies, you react.
This can be seen as improvising but its nothing more then playing
things that have to be, set in a frame of chords-rhtyhtm and melody.

The only thing that does change it are the skills of the musician.
His or hers idea on what is important and how they look at it.

All of this is offcourse just talk ( but fun to do )
So, let me hear your thoughts on this

Love, Peace and Melody


~ by homelessmartian on April 6, 2009.

10 Responses to “Improvise or not ?”

  1. try and think out of the box homeless. improvising is more than playing the notes of one scale.

  2. Beg to differ. Chord sequences are, IMHO, mainly a framework and not a tight harness. Every note in a chord opens the door to its own scale, and all the notes in that scale bring their own scales as well. This goes on ad infintum – there’s a whole universe hidden in just one chord! Listening is the key of improvisation.

  3. Its not the question if i think in or out the box.
    The question is, is improvising a real thing or not ?

    If we follow Hexx’s way of thinking, we still have only 12 notes to pick from. You might not like that idea
    ( and this is offcourse for western music )
    but thats all you got.

    My statement is that you dont really improvise, meaning playing just what comes to you, but you play whatever needs to be played at that time. The music decides what you need to play.

    Its strange to see that there is so mutch written about Improvising, John McLaughin has a great DVD where he teaches how to improvise…….
    You can take classes
    ( they learn you all the scales first, and how to play them all over your instrument )

    Sounds very weird,
    learning how to play whatever comes to your mind ?
    After all improvising is what YOU want to do ?

    I understand that a lot of people have a different opinion about this, but thats the cool thing about music.

    Everyone is right, and noone is right.

    So lets keep on talking about this !!!

  4. i give up.

  5. awhh thats to bad.

    I think its interesting to talk about stuff like this.
    Doesnt matter what your opinion is.
    Its just an opinion its not a personal thing…

  6. So I was wondering: for the recently released album of The Born Again Pagans (check our website for details), we recorded a live show. During live shows, we don’t use any backing tapes other than the sounds of waves on the beach, thunderstorms and that sort of stuff. We just feed a groove in the loopmachine and see where it takes us.

    Would you consider that improvisation?

  7. Ack – finally a brilliant chance to spam our website on someone else’s blog and I misspell the URL!


    Here’s the right one!

  8. Personally i dont consider anything improvised.
    After all you play those songs for a long time.
    So you know what works and what doesnt.
    Offcourse you change little things every time,
    but still you know before you play what might work and what not.

    And please keep on Spamming original music

  9. That moves the discussion from one about music to one about philosophy and the true meaning of words. Like I said before: to me, creating music is all about listening. And when jamming, there’s no telling what to expect.

  10. ‘The chord guy, gets wild and start to change scales and chords,
    plays different rhythms.’

    Isn’t that called Jazz Homeless?

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