Thursday, January 23, 2014
There comes a time when you, for the very first time, mess with the keys. You just sit there making combinations of technique you're familiar with and discover beautiful phrases emerging. It is the time when you first discovered the art of improvisation.
For myself, improvising has been a main part of my practice routine ever since I played. I wouldn't mind skipping a day or two of practicing technique (scales, arpeggios, etc..) if substituted with an adequate amount of improvising that incorporates these techniques. It is more musically satisfying than learning technique alone and unquestionably more efficient for your musical learning.
Now to the basic question that all beginning improvisers are faced with: How do I improvise??
Well to be blunt I'm not so sure there is an actual walk-through to improvising.. If there were it wouldn't be improvising after all! But it is important to note that it's all in the ears. If you have an overall good sense of music (dynamics, articulation, phrasing, etc..) you should only be faced with the problem of technique, which is sure to develop after each improvising session. There are things that certainly help with improvising if not improve it a great deal. First and foremost, learn music theory. You can start off simple by learning popular chord progressions and basic harmony. Then you can see more advanced topics such as chord substitution, alternate progressions, and so on. This knowledge will only improve the way you think musically. Instead of having a crystal clear mind (not so good when improvising!), you will be having a string of musical thoughts that just keep hitting one after another. As for the technical part, go insane. Yes I'm about to quote a famous workout proverb: "Train insane or remain the same". You will need to explore on your own what your hands are capable of doing. Consequently it will help assess your strengths and weaknesses, and you will be able to focus more on the -say- lousy technique of broken octaves and get it to top notch!
So that's how I do it. I develop my technique through the not so abstract act of improvising, as well as discover a bunch of fresh musical ideas ready to be roasted. What more can I ask for?