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Composition & Improvisation: Why Study Composition & Improvisation?

The study of Composition and Improvisation teaches us so much more than how to compose and improvise. Doing so will make you a expert reader-interpreter of written music and a competent listener-feeler when playing by ear.

If you study Composition and Improvisation the right way, you will…

  • learn how to interpret written music and lead sheets like a pro, realizing that there are many musical dimensions (form, melody, rhythm, harmony, and so on) that go well beyond mere dots of a page.
  • discover that composing or improvising music is a very learn-able process that is energized by three things:
    • practical knowledge of musical patterns (form, scales, chords, chord progressions, rhythm, etc)
    • insight into the connections between craft and emotional impact, and
    • curiosity and willingness to experiment with sounds.
  • learn that composition is like written language and improvisation is like spoken language.
  • learn that music has a wordless vocabulary and grammar like no other language and no other art form.
  • discover that an enormous amount of music can be made by using just a small number of very simple patterns.
  • learn that the process of composition and improvisation spans all styles of music: classical, jazz, boogie woogie, blues, rock, country, gospel, whatever.
  • develop an intuition about what makes melody and harmony really tick.
  • see why the mastery of sound patterns (scales, chords, chord progressions) is essential to understanding how music works.
  • appreciate the critical importance of form, the large-scale temporal organization of music that provides unifying structure.
  • see the power of rhythm as a organizing force.
  • appreciate harmonic tension and release as shapers and drivers of musical energy.
  • discover that composing and improvising “one-note-at-a-time” is not the way that musicians compose and improvise.
  • see that successful and joyful creation of music is more about committing to big ideas and patterns and less about fussing over every little detail.

learn more… The True Nature of Composition & Improvisation

2 comments

  1. I wrote this in my very first journal entry, but it was actually the similarities between music theory and language which made me decide to learn to read and write music.

    I’d wanted to learn music theory for a long time, but I put it off, since I found all the numbers and symbols in sheet music intimidating. But then I read a book which said that learning to read music was no different from learning a new language. I’m comfortable with languages, so I decided to give it a go. It’s slow work, but so far I’m glad that I did!

    1. I am so happy to hear that you resonate with the language analogy, Haerin. For me, doing so opened the door to improvising like a musician, not a mathemetician. And I am so glad that we both decided to study music!

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