Chick Corea

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“I’m just trying to share my own way I look at music, with others.

“Musicians, non-musicians, whoever is interested. And try to show a few basic things that I think are kind of true for everybody.

“One of which is that an individual’s taste and his own judgment, what he likes, and what he doesn’t like, is his own God-given right, you could say.

“Everyone has the right to like what they like, not like what they don’t like, listen to the kind of music they want to, not listen to the kind of music they don’t like. Say what you like, say what you don’t like.

“There’s a kind of a code about that. A human right, a spiritual right. “And I want to encourage that in people. I want people, and musicians, to realize their own judgment and have them think for themselves about how they see art, especially. And trying to portray that and say that in various ways. “Share things I do, or just my opinion. “So improvisation is a big interest, with a lot of musicians. So I have my own ideas about what it is, and I know there are an infinite number of other ideas, so I’m just throwing my own idea into the pot here. About ‘What is improvisation?’ “We did 5 shorts on that, so have a look.” – Chick TRANSCRIPT: Chick Corea: So this is the beginning. First one. Here we go. So we’re going to cover improvisation and Bill’s going to – we’re going to talk a little bit. We want to define it first. Bill Rooney: Start at the beginning. CC: I though that was a good idea, because when people ask me – musicians ask me, they say, “Well, how about improvising? How do you improvise? What’s it all about? What do you do? What do you think about?” All these various questions. I think to myself, well you know, I’ve never seen a satisfactory definition of improvisation. So, I want to try to give you what my – what I think of when I think of improvisation, which is something natural. Something natural you do. Improvising is living. Like, what I’m doing now is improvising. I have a thought in my head and I’m trying to get it out using the cumbersome medium of the english language. It’s really difficult. I mean I could go like this – [ plays a phrase ]. See that? I don’t have to then try to say in words what that was because that was improvisation. But to try and define it in words, it’s the natural thing you do that you already decided that you’re going to do something and you’re going to make a movement. So with improvisation, the decision that – there are decisions that have to be made. What kind of freedoms and what kind of rules. There’s freedoms, then there’s rules that you make. And that’s how you come about deciding how much improvisation there’s going to be. Like, you determine a pattern. Let’s use the term “pattern.” So let’s take, for an example, a pattern. I thought it would be good to start demonstrating right away, rather than trying to put a verbal definition. So, you take a pattern, how much freedom or how much rules and decisions you want in it. Let’s take an example. I thought we’d use “Armando’s Rhumba.” Some people know “Armando’s Rhumba”. This tune here – [ plays “Armando’s Rhumba”] Okay here’s the first phrase of “Armando’s Rhumba.” It’s written right here. If you can read music it’s starting right at “A.” So, thats the first phrase. If I’m going to play it exactly I’m going to play that exactly. [ Plays “Armando’s Rhumba” ] Not much improvisation cause I already decided. So let me play the same phrase and keep everything pretty much the same but let me change the melody a little bit. I could do something like – [ plays “Armando’s Rhumba” ] That was a lot of change, I mean comparatively. Or I could do – [ plays “Armando’s Rhumba”] Or I could do even closer. I could change the tempo. [ Plays “Armando’s Rhumba” ] It’s endless. So with that kind of thing you have the pattern and you decide how closely you want to stick to the pattern and the improvisation part comes as what freedom you give. For instance, what if I say to myself, I decide – it’s all decisions. What if I decide I’m going to play something before I start the melody? I’m going to improvise something and then play the melody. So I’m going to go add it, it’s free, I can play what I want. [ Plays tune and “Armando’s Rhumba” ] There you go. Like, play something even stranger: [ Plays tune and “Armando’s Rhumba” ] See there. There would be an infinite number of ways to take a theme. So thats one basic way to describe improvisation. It’s what you decide will be there as a pattern and what you decide you’ll be free about interpretive. Improvisation.

Published on May 18, 2014

he Philosophy of Improvisation

Improvisation is one of the highest and most demanding forms of music composition. Many people try to learn how to improvise by studying scales, modes, licks and other “cheats”. In my opinion, these mechanical cheats are not only intellectually and musically dishonest, but will also end up frustrating those of you who are truly talented, because they will not teach you how to improvise. They will merely turn you into monkeys who regurgitate licks, play scales super-fast other such non-musical garbage.

In this video I present a different philosophy to learning to improvise. In my view, mastering improvisation is comprised of three steps:

1.) First, learn how to compose. Be able to say something “offline” before saying it “online”! If you can’t come up with musical ideas without any pressure, how on earth are you going to do it on the fly? By training your composition skills you are building up a true musical vocabulary of ideas.

(2.) Once you can compose on the fly in your head, you must be able to recognize the notes your hear in your mind. If you hear a musical phrase in your imagination, you must be able to say which notes precisely it corresponds to. This involves training your ear.

(3.) Finally, train your hands and master the technique necessary to play those notes you hear in your head in real time.

In my book, this is the ONLY honest way to improvise. I highly encourage all competent and curious musicians out there to steer clear of “licks” and “scales” and to embark on a much more satisfying – albeit probably much harder – journey.

More About Improvisation and Jazz from Wikipedia:

Musical improvisation (also known as musical extemporization) is the creative activity of immediate (“in the moment”) musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians. Thus, musical ideas in improvisation are spontaneous, but may be based on chord changes in classical music, and indeed many other kinds of music. One definition is a “performance given extempore without planning or preparation.” Another definition is to “play or sing (music) extemporaneously, especially by inventing variations on a melody or creating new melodies in accordance with a set progression of chords.”

Improvisation is one of the basic elements that sets jazz apart from other types of music. The unifying moments in improvisation that take place in live performance are understood to encompass the performer, the listener, and the physical space that the performance takes place in. Even if improvisation is also found outside of jazz, it may be that no other music relies so much on the art of “composing in the moment”, demanding that every musician rise to a certain level of creativity that may put the performer in touch with his or her unconscious as well as conscious states. The educational use of improvised jazz recordings is widely acknowledged. They offer a clear value as documentation of performances despite their perceived limitations. With these available, generations of jazz musicians are able to implicate styles and influences in their performed new improvisations. Many varied scales and their modes can be used in improvisation. They are often not written down in the process, but they help musicians practice the jazz idiom.

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