This weeks Guitar Lesson: Composition Meets Improvisation

Q: When it comes to improvising, I find that most all of the lines I play are pre-composed prior to any improvising. Does this make sense? I always thought that improvising was supposed to be 100% spontaneous stuff. I feel super-limited with this kind of creativity in my own playing. Can you make a lesson on Composing Vs. Improvising? Thanks! Alan G. -- Buffalo, NY. USA

A: I think what you're feeling is quite normal. I know of one teacher that I had when I was attending the Musicians Institute used to always pound it into us that Improvisation is essentially, "Spontaneous Composition." So, the better we could get at Composing in general, the better we all would eventually become at the art of Improvisation. I also can't leave out the fact that the more well-rounded we can become with our knowledge and application of music theory, the more versatile we can become with how we both Compose and Improvise. If we, as a practicing musicians, are clueless with ideas from say, "Harmonic Minor," "Modal Interchange," or "Phrygian Dominant," then it goes without saying that our playing will be limited. More so, than those who are far more knowledgeable. In this lesson, I will not place a focus on a whole bunch of complex music theory, but rather, (for the benefits of working strickly on improvisation), I want build upon a solid group of simple concepts. These concepts can apply to several different musical scenarios and style. Eventually you will start to blur the line in your playing between the world where Composing meets Improvisation.


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