On improvisation

Improvisation (sometimes referred to as "playing by ear") is most closely associated with the jazz idiom. However, it is utilized extensively in all forms of popular music. One would be hard-pressed to find any contemporary music that doesn’t trace its origin to some form of improvisation. It has also been employed in the world of classical music — indeed, the great J. S. Bach himself made extensive use of improvisation, both in extemporaneous performance and in written form. There are some who believe he invented free form jazz! Certainly, the use of improvisation within the music of the Church reached its pinnacle in the works of Bach. For too long a time, the pipe organ has been the primary instrument employed for improvisations of sacred music. Since the 1960's, other instruments, such as the guitar, have been used for improvisation in contemporary worship services of various denominations. My wish is that more church musicians, using a wider range of instrumentation, might explore the gift of improvisation. It is the form of musical expression that brings me great and endless joy.


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