At the heart of jazz lies improvisation. Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes of a tune. Musical improvisation is the spontaneous creative process of making music while it is being performed. For example, improvisation is like speaking or having a conversation as opposed to reciting a written text. Most improvisation is structured, with certain predetermined structures shaping the improvisation, such as the form of a song. A jazz improvisation is usually in theme-and variation form. The theme is often a popular song melody in A A B A form made up of 32 bars. The improvisation varies this original melody by adding added extras and changing its pitches and rhythms. Some jazz improvisations are based on harmonic pattern, or series of chords. This harmonic pattern will be repeated over and over while the improviser creates melodies above it. A famous trombone player, Duke Ellington once said, “You’ve got to find some way of saying it without saying”. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised. Composed music and improvised music may seem to be opposites, but in Jazz they merge in a unique mixture. A common misconception about Jazz improvisation is that it’s invented out of the air. This concept may exist because many small Jazz groups do not read music when they perform. There is more to jazz, than improvisation. Composers such as Duke Ellington, and Charles Mingus wrote occasional jazz compositions practically devoid of improvisation.
There are three methods of Jazz improvisation, which are melodic, harmonic, and motivic. Improvised melody occurs when musicians use slurs, alternate notes, and syncopation in order to recreate the melody in new and interesting ways. Improvising harmonically employs chords and tone centers to inspire new soloing. There may be...
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