On improvising and composing, part 2

Add more tools to your creative palette!


If you’re a melodic musician or composer, wishing to improve your tonal creativity:

Try combining things mentioned in “On improvising and composing, part 1”, while testing different performance techniques & musical details. Things like finger positioning, rhythm patterns, progressions etc.

Things that you already learned from practice, and by learning pieces by some of your favorite composers or artists.

Some things you might have learned by ear, some by sight reading. Even if you’re doing seemingly boring technique drills or study Music theory, don’t forget to always try your hardest to really use your ears and mind, to try understanding how you may implement your skills and knowledge in a creative way later on.

And then, try to forget a bit about the exact order of notes & chords in the original compositions that you used to practice.
Practice similar patterns more freely!

An example of this is my “Nocturne no. 1 – The Longing and the Wonders”.
Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – end part

Here, the arpeggio section is a finger technique that I learned by practicing a Rachmaninov prelude, but that was a different key and different context. And it’s not the exact same finger positioning pattern or order of notes either.

In this composition, I wanted to create something unique, specifically the chord progression in combination with the melody in the repeated main motif. Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – main motif

My point is, at least you don’t have to re-invent the wheel from scratch with new techniques all the time.
It would become less accessible, and become tough to appreciate, even if it’s a neo-romanticism piece like this.

You can create highly personal tracks while using similar patterns, rhythms or chord progressions.
Try to avoid copying too many notes from original melodies by others though.

Also, total brainstorming during improvisations could lead to more composing ideas on the other hand. But if you don’t record all of it, chances are higher that you’ll forget it all, I’d say.


Try to be or become more open-minded about other kinds of music and performance styles!

When not practicing or resting your ears, searching for impulses from diverse music traditions, eras & genres will offer new perspectives, inspiration and points of view. There are lots of famous examples of blends of styles in modern eras.
(Earlier on as well)

I’d suggest listening to as many different styles and genres as possible, not only solo pieces for your instrument, but other genres and instruments as well.
Orchestral compositions, Film scores, Classical, World music, Folk, all kinds of Pop, Rock & Alternative genres, Electronic music, Rap/Hip Hop, Hybrids, etc. etc.
And don’t forget about Songs with lyrics,

ANYTHING that’s made with quality and emotions can be inspirational and educative if you allow it.
Anything that could bring a different perspective and new ideas without copying too much of specific songs or tracks deliberately.
The last part there is of course important as well, or you could become more of a copy cat, a chameleon or a cover song artist.

Of course it also depends on what your goal is, and what you’d be happy to become.

For the genuine kinds of composing and improvisation individuality, I feel the above advice might be helpful. All of it…

Link to part 3


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