DO YOU KNOW HOW TO IMPROVISE?
Do you know how to improvise?
Learn all about it with our new guide on piano improvisation with WKMT.
Several piano students approached the instrument through improvisation, especially if they started at a young age when improvising comes naturally. However, once they start their "serious" studies in piano, most piano tutors discourage the improvisation as the training in classical music is all about following the music sheet meticulously.
What is to improvise?
Basically, it is the ability to make music on the spot; this is a skill that is usually connected to jazz music, commonly called "Jam sessions", but what people don't know is that this skill started in Medieval times and has been widespread among musicians of all eras, including world-known composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. All of them knew how to improvise music on the keyboard that was a sign of being a professional musician.
Nowadays, this tradition of improvising is not something that classically-trained musicians do anymore. It is just done among musicians in other styles, such as jazz, rock, blues and rap.
As Laura comments in her article "Within classical music, some forms such as the cadenza in solo concertos contained sections for improvisation. This would normally be an extended ornament around one chord (generally the dominant). Keyboard suite preludes, especially those by Bach and Handel, consisted of elaborations of a progression of chords, where performers use it as a basis for their improvisation."
We can define improvisation as the action of composing music without a previous "template". Many people find this art form as organic and freer than the so-called fixed forms. Even during the 20th-century, composers started to use this device to mix it in their own compositions, even for music for orchestra!