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Thread: Rating Improvisation

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    Spectral Warrior con passion White Knight's Avatar
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    Question Rating Improvisation

    As one of the prime features/attractions of the jazz idiom, perhaps what most distinguishes it from other musical forms is the art or science(?) of improvisation. However, this has started me wondering as I listen to a lot of different pieces regarding how to judge whether the process is effective all the time (unrealistic to expect, I guess) or some of the time. And further, what should the criteria be: i.e., if one can glean the original theme after listening to the riff for awhile or if it is completely different than what it started out to be. Should different artists and pieces be "judged" differently, or should one criterion apply to all ? I would like to include "free jazz" for purposes of this discussion. I guess a lot of this is very subjective, so if any of my more experienced and learned fellow forum members can share their opinions and views on this, I'd love to hear from them. Peace, White Knight.
    Last edited by White Knight; Nov-18-2010 at 02:49.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Ideally improvisation should remain within the chord sequence of the piece except for free jazz, one of the reasons I don't listen to free jazz.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    white knight I do not understand why you are getting tied up over improvisation you are obviously well versed in the jazz idiom and I suspect you know full well what ad lib means, are you perhaps trying to bait us ?
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  4. #4
    Spectral Warrior con passion White Knight's Avatar
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    Question Improvisation

    Quote Originally Posted by J.H.C. View Post
    white knight I do not understand why you are getting tied up over improvisation you are obviously well versed in the jazz idiom and I suspect you know full well what ad lib means, are you perhaps trying to bait us ?
    J.H.C : First off, let me thank you for referring to me as being "well versed" in this idiom; I frankly have never thought of myself as being at that level. So the answer to your "baiting" question is a resounding NO. Not being a musician or having anything like a "trained ear" I am merely trying to understand (if that's possible) the parameters of this process.Indeed, are there -or should there be- any to begin with. Please accept my musings on this in the spirit of inquiry and not of "baiting". Look forward to hearing from you again. Peace and out. White Knight.
    Last edited by White Knight; Nov-18-2010 at 06:01.

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    OK, in an effort to help can I point you to a google search which will give you a lot more info than could be put on this thread, Improvisation
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    Spectral Warrior con passion White Knight's Avatar
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    Red face

    J.H.C.: The reason I joined this forum was to get feedback and reaction from fellow members and enthusiasts. I was merely trying to create a stimulating discussion topic, with no ulterior motive of "baiting" in mind. Thanx for your Google referral. However, if I only wanted a "clinical" exposition for this idea, I wouldn't have joined this group to begin with. Again, I am seeking out other peoples ideas and opinions, which I believe play a crucial factor in one's learning and evolution.

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    I think you have had quite a bit if feed back on (improvisation) aka ad lib, there really is only so much that can be said because it is very basic, the link I gave is not clinical it gives audio examples and there are some excellent explanations and lessons given, what part of improvisation is causing problems for you?
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  8. #8
    Duckmeister teddy's Avatar
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    I am a great beliver in - If you like it, play it. I think that there is always a danger in being to analytical. Its a bit like looking at a woman and wondering why you find her beautiful. Sometimes you just have to accept that you do, or don/t enjoy a certain style or artist however good they are. and leave it at that. Like Europe, there are no set boundaries to jazz. Deciding exactly where improvisation ends. or swing becomes true jazz is all a matter of personal conjecture.

    teddy with his pennorth worth

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    Spectral Warrior con passion White Knight's Avatar
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    Cool Play it if you like it

    Hi Teddy, Thank you so much for your comment on my thread. I do immensely enjoy listening to jazz, progressive rock groups such as ELP and Yes as well as classical composers like Mahler, Ravel and Beethoven. I guess you're right in the sense that if one enjoys a musical work, in the end that is really all that matters. I just thought that I would try and open up a discourse on improvisation and how it pertains to the jazz idiom as an interesting topic that other members would find somewhat stimulating and weigh in on . Looks like I was wrong on that score .Your point about it being personal conjecture is very well taken and represents some of the feedback I was looking to get from my fellow members when I posted my "improvisation" thread .

  10. #10
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    There is really nothing new in improvisation, and it's not exclusive to jazz, for example many organists do something similar after a church service, improvising on say the melody of the last hymn.

    Then there are many "theme and variations" or "variations on a theme of ..." in the classical world, when you think about it what are the variations but a form of improvisation, you could almost say the same about fugues: fugues, variations, whatever you call them, just a slightly more formal approach to improvisation.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    white knight

    Adding to what mike has said if a band member is given the nod to take a middle 8 then the chord sequence is adhered to, if say a sax player goes of on a ramble then those rules can be thrown out it is entirelyup to the artist they may well drift off into a medley of tunes in different keys and/or meters in other words they improvise but eventually come back to the original melody/tune, it really is not complicated, all this is explained in more detail on the links I provided.
    In classical the cadenza was always improvised until conductors got fed up with artists not wanting to stop, one conductor was quoted as saying “heaven save us from the cadenza” I’m sorry I can’t remember his name
    Also as teddy pointed out all music and art is subjective Chopin,Beethoven Mozart Schubert were fantasticated improvisors. lol
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