Quotes About Improvisation in Music
Do not fear mistakes. There are none.
Do not fear mistakes. There are none.
Improvising is the most natural and widespread form of music making. Up until the last century, it was integral even to our literate musical tradition in the West.
Trying to realize the essence of creating music by using dots on a page is no more possible than realizing the essence of painting by using coloring books.
Many western musicians are fabulously skilled at playing black dots on a printed page, but mystified by how the dots got there in the first place and apprehensive of playing without dots. Music theory does not help here; it teaches rules of the grammar, but not what to say. The real story of improvisation is spontaneous expression, and is therefore a spiritual and a psychological story rather than a story about the technique.
Improvisation, it is a mystery. You can write a book about it, but by the end no one still knows what it is. When I improvise and I'm in good form, I'm like somebody half sleeping. I even forget that there are people in front of me. Great improvisers are like priests, they are thinking only of their God.
The fruits of improvising may flower spontaneously, but it arises from soil that we have prepared, fertilized, and tended in the faith that it will ripen in nature's own time.
The primary function of improvisation is to be expressive and emotional; to improvise, one must be in a certain state, and at the same time, improvisation, by inducing surprise and novelty, provides the interpreter with a special emotion that is perceived as the effect of a transcendental inspiration.
Composing is the "ego-trip par excellence". The musical activity most diametrically opposed to composing is improvising. We know that there are some cultures where the composer dominates--above all in Western music and others where the improviser rules, as almost everywhere else in the world. However, both improvisers and composers exist in almost all cultures, and there are borderline cases where it is often not possible to determine whether something has been composed or is being improvised. In most cases it turns out that what was originally improvised has been repeated so often over the course of time that it has taken on the character of something composed even though it is not written down.
The joy in improvising while singing and playing is evident in almost all phases of music history. It is always a powerful force in the creation of new forms and every historical study that confines itself to the practical and theoretical sources that have come down to us in writing or in print, without taking into account the improvisational element in living musical practice, must of necessity present an incomplete, indeed a distorted picture. For there is scarcely a single field in music that has remained unaffected by improvisation, scarcely a single musical technique or form of composition that did not originate in improvisatory practice or was not essentially influenced by it. The whole history of the development of music is accompanied by manifestations of the drive to improvise.
The first challenge of an improvising artist is to unify the diverse response of an audience so that it becomes a part of the creation. This co-creation exists in a timeless area of subconscious communication where the improviser becomes the articulate voice of the group. The compassion of this inspired moment of unity is the reason for improvised music.
Improvisation is the only artform in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. It is the hidden things, the subconscious that lets you know you feel this, you play this.
It is a truism, that many of the recorded improvised masterpieces are of a technical complexity, which would be quite beyond the ability of their creators to play them, where they faced with the notes written out as a composition.
Improvisation is not the expression of accident but rather of the accumulated yearnings, dreams and wisdom of our very soul.
To many, improvisation seems to be the most difficult aspect of music, but in reality, it is the most natural.