Chapter

Composition and Improvisation

Andreas C. Lehmann, John A. Sloboda and Robert H. Woody

in Psychology for Musicians

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780195146103
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199851164 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195146103.003.0007
Composition and Improvisation

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This chapter discusses the activities of composition and improvisation as they relate musical performance, and focuses on everyday musical creativity rather than the rare incidences of genius. The generative acts of composing and improvising serve to increase the depth of a musician's understanding of musical structure, which in turn positively benefits his musical performance and learning by enhancing the skills of sight-reading, memorization, and creativity. The chapter explains several related points. First, the contemporary division between creating and recreating music rooted in history is found to refute the prevalence of generative musical behavior. This leads to the almost indistinguishable boundaries between the related activities of composition and improvisation. Second, creativity is found to involve trial-and-error, but with some regularities in the method. Lastly, children are determined to first engage in creative processes but are required to obtain an idea of what is aesthetically pleasing through formal training.

Keywords: composition; improvisation; musical performance; creativity; generative; sight-reading; memorization

Chapter.  7378 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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