- Kushal Sahabir
The Beauty of Improvisation in Music
Cover Art: Alex Chen
We often get used to the monotony of the music we consume every day. The same chords, the same lyrics, the same beats. We somehow never become bored by these different variations, takes, and styles of these artists. There are cases where it becomes extremely noticeable, in the case of DaBaby being trolled on the Internet for using the same flow in his rap songs, but we otherwise never seem to notice it. But when that monotony wears us down, we look for something fresh, something exciting that catches our interest. But we really just turn to the same chords and same beats, just in different styles. You can’t really blame the artists, they work with what they get; you can’t really create something new when music and its patterns have existed for millennia. But maybe it doesn’t have to be like this. Maybe, the solution can be something beautiful. Human ingenuity has contributed a lot to the world, good and bad, but the idea of improvising music pieces on the spot has somehow made the same notes that had previously been monotonous, fresh, and exciting.
Beauty is a subjective word in many senses, and many people find improvisation to be unpleasing for whatever reason. Its most well-known introduction to the Western world came in the form of jazz music, an art form well-cultivated from the days of spiritual music that has evolved into something ripe with improvisation and almost synonymous with the word. For all things called beautiful, it can be argued that they are not, and that’s true for improvisation too; after all, music is subjective, and people are entitled to their opinions about it. Jazz music, in particular, is stereotyped as being elevator music, turning possible listeners off from it. But there has to be something said for the most prominent jazz musicians, and how their most niche works can find an audience amongst the people and their most popular pieces can be celebrated everywhere. The elements of jazz that make it so unique and palatable are all attributable to improvisation. There’s just something about the spontaneous chord switches, drum beats, and the whole band lost in the music that engulfs the listener in its beauty that’s created almost out of nowhere. The beauty of it is subjective, for sure, but the genius to produce such chord switches and the cohesiveness of the band to match each other's tone and rhythm create something undeniably beautiful for the listener. Using the same notes and beats of traditional music, it simultaneously breaks the rules of music as we know it while introducing us to a whole new beautiful world of possibilities brought through improvisation.