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Improvised versus planned music

Improvised versus planned music
November 05, 2006, 10:42:13 AM
It seems as if improvisation or jazz influenced music is the exact opposite of classical music.  A lot of typical rock makes use of improvisation and to a point, so does some metal.  

Pre-written music can be used to put forth a meaning or message, but can improvisational music ever have true meaning?  

Jazz style improvisation - basically, the jam session - isn't conducive to making meaningful music.  It's basically an exercise in muscle memory.

Improvisation built around a concept, on the other hand (as was common in much Baroque composition, for instance) is something else entirely.

Some artists such as Ildjarn (though he despises the term) use improv as a means of expression toward the raw state of nature, of the spirit within the world. Then again, you have dave matthews band and any number of college idiots who think fucking around an hour is "expressive and genuine". It was one of the backfirings of punk. Eventually so many people "just played" that soon there was only noise and no meaning.

there are several classical works that involve improvisation yet those keep in the same feeling (and in essence same theme) as the rest of the piece so i don't see why having an improvised song should have any less meaning towards it

To me it's the degree of intent behind it. Classical musicians do improvise but they do it within the form of the piece. Jazz is just jamming to the harmony, which is why chord shapes are so important to jazz guitar. Some improvisational music could be structured but for the most part to my ears it sounds like jamming is an easier way out than actually writing music that means something.


Some improvisational music could be structured but for the most part to my ears it sounds like jamming is an easier way out than actually writing music that means something.

That's something I, beeing an "rather good" at least Pianist can confirm. Just to sit and play improvised melodies is easy, you only need a couple of chords and some knowledge of how the tonal scales function. To write "real" music
on the other hand is something that demands a lot more of you.

Re: Improvised versus planned music
November 06, 2006, 05:36:04 PM
Well the question is whether you're just making music or whether that music is supposed to communicate some idea or experience. To just stay in tune is a mechanical skill, to write music like poetry a bit harder I think.

Re: Improvised versus planned music
November 07, 2006, 03:36:10 PM
i guess it all comes down to how do you measure the quality of the imagery received to say that improvised music is/isn't as heart felt as planned music  


Re: Improvised versus planned music
November 08, 2006, 05:21:09 PM
improvisation does not work for much of metal, because the genre relies so heavily on precise arrangements and a general feeling of constricting "tightness."  that said, there have been many guitar solos in metal over the years which are both improvised and worthy of camparison to the jazz tradition.

to say that improv "sucks" or that it automatically leads to jam-band bullshit like dave matthews is to paint with way too broad a brush.  what the hippie jam-bands do is to solo over repetitive riffs in the middle of a structured song for ridiculously extended periods of time.   when masterful jazz musicians improvise, they can either alter the parameters of a given piece to create interesting juxtapositions or interplay, or they can just weave the piece from whole cloth.  either way, they're composing on the fly, and that's something.

not that i'm expecting anybody on this board to just start listening to improvised music...

Re: Improvised versus planned music
November 08, 2006, 06:23:32 PM
well many if Bach's organ works he would improvise in front of a live audience and simply write down what he played after the performance, and for anyone to say that these works are not well structured would have there music capabilities put into serious doubt