This page is a collection of my explorations in improvisational music.  Some of the examples are free while others are structured.  All improvisation has some sort of structure and some degree of freedom, but the proportions vary, as does the performer’s mindset.  For me the big distinctions are: how much preparation did I do in advance, and how much conscious control am I exercising over the music as it emerges?  The examples that I’ve labeled as “structured” are pieces that I worked out and practiced before recording; the examples that I’ve labeled as “free” are pieces that happened entirely in the moment.

Structured Improvisation


Reaching Out

Shadvi Cycle


Free Improvisation

At one extreme, improvisation can be like spontaneous composition, where you make the same kinds of choices a composer would make, but you do it very fast, without the intermediary step of notation. The important part here is that you stay in charge.  You aim for a certain sound with your conscious mind and use your knowledge of music theory and instrumental technique to bring that sound about.  At the other extreme, improvisation can be pure experiment, where you rely on intuition and you give yourself up to chance. Instead of trying to realize a specific sound that you imagine, you proceed by taking a risk or a step into the unknown — trying something on the instrument without knowing how it will turn out. You listen to what happens, and then you do another experiment that somehow responds to the first — either by developing it, contrasting against it, or re-framing it. The performance becomes a flowing sequence of experiments where a certain structure or message can emerge without conscious control.  This video captures the first moment when that experimental approach came together for me:

More musical experiments:

Feb 9, 2011 with Kathir Kuppan on dombak:

Guitar/Tabla jam, Aug 22, with Kathir Kuppan:

First guitar/tabla jam with Kathir (me on steel string) Aug 21, 2010

March 20, 2011

Aug 26, 2010 2:49pm

Aug 2010 evening, time unknown

Aug 2010, recorded sometime before Soundwaves video

Aug 27, 2010, 12:36am

Aug 27, 2010, 11:59am

Aug 28, 2010; Minimalism? heavy metal? music therapy? Need to listen very loud for full effect

Aug 29, 2010: pattern, variations

Oct 8, 2010

Nov 2, 2010

March 13, 2011 8:30am


One thought on “Improvisation

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