Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ideas on improvisation

The best tip you can ever get when improvising is that you can only ever be one note out. If the whole phrase is out - do it twice like you meant to do it.

Good improvisation is about belief and melodic construction not playing "hot licks" learned from magazines or records. The best lead playing is instant composition, not noodles. The problem is that real improvisation is that its inconsistent and requires inspiration depending on various factors:

The players mental state
The audience(a good audience can inspire or allow complacency to slip in, a bad audience can inspire anger and a great performance as players push for a reaction)
The sound
The player's ability
The equipment used
The chemistry between the players(often say the guitarist's hatred of the drummer will inspire a great solo)
And other weirdness

Miles Davis used to ask players not to practice and save their improvisation for the stage. Often I have found too much practice can lead to stale playing, while not playing for a few days can lead to fresh ideas.

What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Guitar Mal said...

Not sure about the anger and hatred stuff. I guess it depends what you're looking for in the improvisation though. I think the best improvisation comes from that almost telepathic feeling you get sometimes between musicians who are working together, getting swept along by the music, getting thrilled by the way the music is carrying everyone along and taking them to places they didn't imagine it going. Personally I've never experienced anything like that when there's anger or hatred around, though I guess it could result in a different type of improvisational creativity.

Apart from that, yes, good words on the subject. I'd just add (for the moment at least) that any new factor in the equation (new instrument, new key, new tempo, new players, new mood, new location, new acoustics, new weather, new audience, new ambience) can inspire and refresh the creative processes particularly regards improvisation.

Guitar Mal said...

[and this comment is just because I forgot to check the Email follow-up box!]

Matt Stevens said...

I just mean sometimes when bands up their game when they are trying to break thru to a audience that isn't listening, not in terms of anger and hatred. When I used to play in metal we did face some hostile audiences but doing my own stuff I must say the audiences have been lovely. Thanks foy comment, excellent points made.


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