TEXTS ON MUSIC
Decisions in improvisation
If the musical course of a musical conception is not sketched out by compositional instructions or by the rules of aesthetics, the resulting open-endedness of the performance situation poses options for individual improvisational decisions by the musicians performing the composition. The following is a presentation of some of these options for decisions. These options give rise to formative and creative activity: ‘instant composing’.
- To play
- Not to play
- Support what already exists
- Introduce elements that modify what already exists
Rhythmic support for what exists:
- Joining in with the playing of an existing rhythmic figure, thereby strengthening the weight of this figure and enriching the tone colour
- Adding a complementary rhythm, thereby enlarging the complexity of the rhythm already in progress
Harmonic support for what exists:
- Broadening the harmonic situation by adding tones, sounds or movements of one’s own that fit in with the character of what already exists:
- Joining in performance of melody lines performed by fellow musicians, in the process harmonising the original movement through selection of other tones or additional voices
- Enriching and enlarging chords by adding tones not yet found in the sound
Mental support for what exists:
- Introducing oneself into the flow of a musical event.
Productively and creatively taking part in the music already in progress, absent any intention to fundamentally modify what exists.
Introducing a new idea:
- To open up an additional, new level as a way of enriching the musical event
- To offer an optional shift in the direction or character of the overall event
- Being open for ‘magical moments’ of surprising, spur-of-the-moment collective changes of direction (swarm behaviour)
Decision for one’s own performance position within the musical event in progress:
- Playing one's part as a basis, environment or background
- For the support of another player in a solo position
- As part of a collective event without any solo position whatsoever
- Assuming a solo position
- Shaping the beginning, development and end of a soloist’s statement
- To continue playing as before
- To continue playing while varying the flavour of one's own performance
- To stop playing. Tacet.
Texts on music © Norbert Stein