Music Improv Basics: Eight Vital Things

This article discusses 8 important things to remember as improvising musicians – 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 are actual melodic phrases that dance and skip over the fast tempo – and rolling¬†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 “subroutine call” (in the parlance software engineering).

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.” Read more