How Jazz Musicians Improvise: The Central Role of Auditory and Motor Patterns

  title={How Jazz Musicians Improvise: The Central Role of Auditory and Motor Patterns},
  author={Martin Norgaard},
  journal={Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal},
  • Martin Norgaard
  • Published 1 February 2014
  • Psychology
  • Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal
It is well known that jazz improvisations include repeated rhythmic and melodic patterns. What is less understood is how those patterns come to be. One theory posits that entire motor patterns are stored in procedural memory and inserted into an ongoing improvisation. An alternative view is that improvisers use procedures based on the rules of tonal jazz to create an improvised output. This output may contain patterns but these patterns are accidental and not stored in procedural memory for… 

Linked auditory and motor patterns in the improvisation vocabulary of an artist-level jazz pianist

Improvising musicians possess a stored library of musical patterns forming the basis for their improvisations. According to a prominent theoretical framework by Pressing (1988), this library includes

Patterns in Music: How Linguistic Corpus Analysis Tools Can Be Used to Illuminate Central Aspects of Jazz Improvisation

Abstract:It is well-known that improvisations by artist-level jazz improvisers contain repeated melodic and rhythmic patterns. In previous research, we argued that these patterns reflect an ongoing

Duration of playing bursts and redundancy of melodic jazz improvisation in John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”

Studying musical improvisation is methodologically difficult because improvisations are hardly reproducible, and no established theory exists regarding their formation. In particular it is unclear

Unlocking Your Potential as an Improviser

You and your students already have all the tools needed to improvise successfully. You have melodic figures that are stored both as movements and auditory patterns. You also have a rich understanding

How Learned Patterns Allow Artist-Level Improvisers to Focus on Planning and Interaction During Improvisation

It is argued that stored auditory and motor patterns are inserted into ongoing musical improvisations and that it may be the partially automatic process of inserting learned patterns into ongoing improvisations that allows the artist-level improviser to focus on planning and interaction.

Chords not required: Incorporating horizontal and vertical aspects independently in a computer improvisation algorithm

This work describes an example in which a corpus of 48 solos by jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was used by a computer algorithm to create an improvisation of the same length, and showed that a chord-based computer algorithm generated an output with a pattern structure very different from that of the human improviser even though the same chord structure was used as input.

Creating Under Pressure: Effects of Divided Attention on the Improvised Output of Skilled Jazz Pianists

A growing body of research suggests that jazz musicians concatenate stored auditory and motor patterns during improvisation. We hypothesized that this mechanism allows musicians to focus attention

The dynamics of the improvising brain: a study of musical creativity using jazz improvisation

The neuroscience of jazz improvisation has shown promising results for understanding domain-specific and domain-general processes of creativity. Here, we used fMRI to measure for the first time the

Spontaneous Melodic Productions of Expert Musicians Contain Sequencing Biases Seen in Language Production

The findings indicate that even expert jazz musicians, known for spontaneous creative performance, reliably retrieve easily-accessed melodic sequences before creating more complex sequences—consistent with an incremental planning strategy employed in language production—suggesting that similar biases constrain the spontaneous production of music and language.



Descriptions of Improvisational Thinking by Artist-Level Jazz Musicians

Thought processes of seven artist-level jazz musicians, each of whom recorded an improvised solo, were investigated. Immediately after completing their improvisations, participants listened to

Testing cognitive theories by creating a pattern-based probabilistic algorithm for melody and rhythm in jazz improvisation.

It is shown that the algorithm implemented here is capable of generating improvisations in fiddle and classical styles, and that the pattern-based algorithm is style independent, and it is shown That the algorithm is able to generate melodic output in other styles given a corpus in that style.

What Does One Know When One Knows How to Improvise ?

Cognitive models of improvisation align with pedagogical methods in suggesting improvisers‟ need for both procedural and declarative knowledge. However, behavioral experiments do not directly address

How Jazz Musicians Improvise

This article defends the view that theories of creativity should be computable and that only three sorts of algorithm can be creative. It proposes a central principle of algorithmic demands for jazz

Toward a cognitive analysis of creativity: Improvisation in jazz

Background in music theory. In a groundbreaking study of the improvisations of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, Thomas Owens transcribed and analyzed many of Parker’s recorded solos, searching for –

Bebop: The Music and Its Players

"When bebop was new," writes Thomas Owens, "many jazz musicians and most of the jazz audience heard it as radical, chaotic, bewildering music." For a nation swinging to the smoothly orchestrated

When hearing turns into playing: Movement induction by auditory stimuli in pianists

The results show that in expert pianists potential action effects are able to induce corresponding actions, which demonstrates the existence of acquired action–effect associations in pianists.

A corpus analysis of rock harmony

A corpus analysis of rock harmony using Rolling Stone magazine's list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ took the 20 top-ranked songs from each decade, creating a set of 100 songs, and showed that IV is the most common chord after I and is especially common preceding the tonic.

Action Planning in Sequential Skills: Relations to Music Performance

The results suggest that action planning was faster with compatible than with incompatible mappings (and faster than with no tones) and the size of this compatibility effect grew with increasing musical experience, which suggests that improvements in auditory imagery ability that typically accompany musical training may augment the role of anticipatory auditory-effect representations during planning.