Improvising music is normally either overwhelming – or boring. As a result many musicians avoid it, thinking they lack the “gift” to improvise freely. That’s just because they’ve been approaching it wrong and falling into one of two traps.

Improvisation feels overwhelming because at any moment, any note you can play is possible next! That leads to a paradox of choice where we feel paralysed and don’t know what to play.

The alternative is “beginner methods” of improvisation which typically prescribe specific formulas or patterns that you should follow to make sure your solo sounds “good”. It’s fun at first because you get a taste of improvisation but it quickly becomes boring as we blindly follow rules and patterns to stay “safe”.

The trick to getting the best of both worlds? Avoid overwhelm and escape the strict patterns by improvising based on “constraints”.

This is a summary post.