iwasdoingallright - audio clip - freeform jazz improvisation clip.
The idea behind freeform improvisation is simple: improvise freely, without a set chord progression, structure, or melody. Lately I've been spending about 5-10 minutes a day with freeform improvisation.
While there really aren't any *rules* for what or how you should play, the following is a process that I use to help me develop my ideas.
I can't force myself to be creative. So, rather than try to force myself to create an entire tune out of thin air, I like to start with a few notes and rhythms. I'll typically noodle around with these smaller pieces for a while, playing several variations, until I find something that sticks out to me; something I can use as a foundation for the rest of the tune.
I then build upon this foundation, through continued development and repetitions. Each time I reach an idea that I like, I try to take it further. Sometimes I might go through 20+ development repetitions, and sometimes maybe just 1 or 2.
In this recording, I started playing with a few notes from a C pentatonic scale. I went through several development repetitions, adding more notes and varying the rhythms, before reaching a point where I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to play (the final part of the recording). This does NOT happen to me all the time. Most of the time I don't reach a clear ending. That's okay, though. After all, this is a freeform exercise. There isn't a right or wrong way to play. It all depends upon what you want to do.
Don't be critical of your playing. Don't worry about what others might think of your ideas. Don't compare your playing to the playing of others. Just concern yourself with whether or not YOU like what you're doing. And if you don't like what you're doing, don't let it get you down, just play something else!
This exercise has the following benefits:
By removing the rules (chord changes, tempos, etc.) of typical tune-based jazz improvisation, you are free to focus solely on the creation of improvised music. Also, since you don't have an accompaniment to hide behind, you'll find it easier to hear whether you are playing new ideas or whether you are simply recycling a bunch of learned licks.
EMPHASIS ON PLAYING BY EAR
To be a good jazz improviser, you must be able to play by ear. If you're unable to play the ideas in your head, this exercise will make this fact painfully obvious. If you're having trouble playing your ideas, slow down the tempo. If you're still having trouble at slow tempos, you should probably spend more time on ear training and simple song playing.
FOCUS ON RHYTHM AND PHRASING
Since this exercise is played without accompaniment, you don't have a rhythm section to keep time for you. If you want to play something that sounds upbeat and/or driving rhythmically, it's all up to you.