9 Elements Of Improvisation



Life is a continual challenge. What can we rely on when nothing works that is familiar, conventional, already known?

We all have to improvise if a serious problem comes up and we neither have any tools nor a method that we can rely on. If we are forced to do something, if we can't escape or hide, we improvise. Why not more often? It actually feels more like a requirement of life than any plan.

Jazz musicians have no time to spare.

In the arts, particularly in music, improvisation always played a big role. In the 20th century, especially in Jazz music improvisation became a prominent part of the art, actually the main subject. There is no jazz without improvisation.

Jazz musicians have no time to spare. Some come after an arranged introduction to the meat which is : improvisation, interaction, groove. Some leave even the framework out. It feels that jazzers love to throw themselves into situations where the power of the moment is the governing element.

Maybe we could learn something from the endangered species that is artists who keep up the premise of human diversity, self-organisation and  real life situations where planning and control have no room.

In The Long History Of Humankind (And Animal Kind,Too) Those Who Learned To Collaborate And Improvise Most Effectively Have Prevailed.

Charles Darwin

As humans in the western world we are used to a highly structered life leaving us basically in the role of adjusting/reacting  marionettes. This kind of pseudo security - reaffirmed by control hungry politicians - is always in jeopardy through a variety of unforseen situations and catastrophies, so much so that many live in constant fear and in their minds spend lots of energy on anticipating all kinds of threatening scenarios. A potential nightmare that could become reality any time.

Becoming more alert and confident are some of the rich rewards of improvising.

What we can learn from artists, the protagonists of creativity:

  1. surrender, accept what comes up and do something with it
  2. trust your intuition
  3. explore new territory: begin with the chaos of nothing or start with something familiar
  4. be spontaneous
  5. integrate: trust the self-organization of the process
  6. keep your mind open: every minute is a fresh start, let go of prejudices, preconceived notions, definitions
  7. appreciate the flow of new ideas
  8. question everything
  9. begin to love the unexpected



You must be logged in to post comments in the magazine.

All comments


Love the list. #9 is great, it helps with all the previous ones. :)

login - sign up

End of page. Back to page navigation.