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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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January 29, 2011 | Improvisation in an ensemble

There are plenty of resources here on that offer you the basics of the craft of improvisation. FFcP movability, tonal centers, form, harmonic progressions, these are tools to invest time into making your personal music making more satisfying, but we also need to devote some attention to how this all fits in the context of ensemble interaction.

What better place to understand this than in the context of a comedy improvisation troop? The players here completely depend on their abilities to react, reinvent, and develop theme and dramatic tension/release within a group. Each member is not only responsible for their own contribution, but to how they make the team look better.

tips.gifJazz can be very self-indulgent when all the focus is on the individual's skills. A long-winded solo can be quite dull when it does little to propel the group. Accompaniment that noodles and distracts has the same dimming effect. We stumbled across a terrific Michelle James TED video that outlines how successful improvisation ensembles make a sum greater than its parts. The video is about 15 minutes, and well worth your time to inspire some thought on how you might fit and interact with the members of your group.

Check out this week's Tips and Tricks entry, "Improvisation: Ensemble Hatching."

Late night jam, John Eubanks' knee, Don Stiernberg, Scott Tichenor.

Posted by Ted at January 29, 2011 5:48 AM

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