Sunday, February 7, 2021

Musical Composition -Improvisation

There are many ways to create music.  I primarily use improvisation. Normally reserved for jazz solos, I use it to create entire tracks/songs (melody, chord structure, style and rhythm).   This is all done on the fly, in real time.  This is very fast.   Of course, there is a need for arrangement later for some tracks.   After using this method to create over 200 recorded tracks, even repeated music form (i.e.; chorus repeated twice) can be improvised if you can remember the themes used for the verse or chorus in real time.

Recently, I’ve been using my voice as an improvising instrument. Sometimes, I use guitar lead and voice together (in unison) to create melody lines for improvised chords.   Sometimes I improvise chords first and then try to improvise a melody line that fits those chosen chords.   It’s best to improvise chords and melody at the exact same time for a more cohesive track.  

Keyboard is the one of the best initial instruments for this method.  You can merge the melody line with the chord structure in one pass.   You can also use voice to sing the melody line while improvising chord/style/rhythm form.  Guitar chording can also work but normally the voice needs “leading” to find pitches/starting points.  A piano can provide that on the fly.   Piano is recorded in midi so post-creation editing is easier that straight audio files (i.e.; guitar/voice).   This method is so familiar to me I don’t really know another way.  

Selecting drum patterns, setup in standard phrases, provides both inspiration and structure for the improvised track/song.   Metronome is also very effective in keeping compositions organized and meaningful.  Free form rhythm compositions can be dramatic but adding additional instruments during arrangement/production is difficult (but possible!).

Primary problems with this method are:
  • chord patterns tend to repeat leading to songs that “all sound alike”
  • melody lines created “after” chord patterns have been written tend to be boring and not memorable
  • Improvises are normally at a tempo slower that the final production
Follow-up research:

  •  Who else uses improvisation as primary method for song creation?

  •  Name other composition methods




New Album Coming Soon!