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Being Generic Is a Choice

POSTED ON April 23, 2016   |   One Comment

I had the privilege of leading hands-on improvisation workshops for music majors at Seattle Pacific University and Central Washington University earlier this month. This article is based my presentation.

Courtesy of Flickr/lemonjenny

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Soundpainting: The Art of Live Composition

POSTED ON March 24, 2016   |   Post A Comment
One of the best vehicles for teaching group improvisation is Soundpainting, a sign language for live composition.

Steve Soundpainting, see video below

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The Uber Game and Sneaky Snake

POSTED ON March 04, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Viola Spolin, the creator of improvised theater games, describes a spontaneous scene as “a timeless moment when all are mutually engaged in experience. You don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s where they joy is, the everlasting spiral.”


Courtesy of Flickr/Andrew Currie

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4 Myths About Improvisation

POSTED ON January 08, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Improvisation, the most widely practiced of all musical activities, is probably the least recognized or understood. Vague descriptions like, “making it up as you go along” or “playing off the top of your head” give no idea to the pervasiveness and power of improvisation in music. Perhaps the air of mystery that surrounds it is inevitable.

Derek Bailey, On the Edge: Improvisation in Music

Photo by Steve Korn

Common myths about improvisation contribute to the “air of mystery.” I’d like to address four of them.

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Improvisation IS the Classical Tradition

POSTED ON December 31, 2015   |   Post A Comment

Something spontaneous sounds different from something that is not, and that the audience benefits from that in a performance. . .Whenever I’ve played improvised cadenzas, the audience gets very quiet. For the first time in most of their lives, they’re at a classical concert where, and despite their familiarity with the piece, they don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Robert Levin, Inside Early Music: Conversations with Performers

For centuries, classical musicians were improvisers. Not just geniuses like Bach and Beethoven—improvisation was part of basic musical training until the late 19th century. Professional and amateur musicians improvised embellishments, cadenzas, accompaniments, and spontaneous compositions.

Courtesy of Flickr/CelloPics

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