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Tonal Improvisation #1

If we continue to follow the language analogy, then we all improvise all of the time. We don’t walk around with a script that we read from all day. We select words from our vocabulary that fit the situation. In music, we choose patterns that fit the tonal or rhythmic context of the musical situation. 


When you are first learning to create and improvise, it’s helpful to have a few tools you can use to spark your creativity. An Imprompt is a musical scenario that is set up in order to give you the opportunity to try out the skill of improvisation. 

Unfinished Songs

This first imprompt is called “Unfinished Song” and is designed to see what is lurking underneath the audiational waters of your mind. Here are the procedures:


Step 1 - Listen 

Listen to the unfinished song, and see if an ending emerges in your audiation. (Don’t sing, just audiate!)


Step 2 - Listen again 

Listen again, and quietly sing the ending that emerges. Use a neutral syllable (like “La” or “Bum”). It’s OK if it’s different than the first ending you audiated! As you’re improvising, try to audiate the underlying harmony that you’re hearing. A good way to end a song is with a dominant chord followed by a tonic chord. 


Step 3 - Sing your ending 

Listen again, and then try to sing the same ending with more confidence. 


Step 3 - Sing a different ending 

Listen again, and then try to sing a different ending. 

Here are five unfinished songs for you to try:

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