Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Lee Konitz on improvisation

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Konitz: Of course we have to function with a vocabulary in order to speak musically. But because I’ve had so much experience playing, and had my confidence reinforced and encouraged through doing it, I realized that it’s possible to really improvise. And that means going into it with a so-called clean slate. That appeals to me very much. Not to deny the importance of a speaking vocabulary, but having one that’s flexible enough so it can be used to reinvent constantly…

Interviewer: Do you feel when you’re playing a solo, you want to try and avoid the idea of “This is thirty-two bars being repeated”—you want to disguise the chorus structure as well, to avoid the impression of a repeating set of chords?

Konitz: That’s the name of the game, I think. To use this very obvious structure, and make it less obvious in some way—just in terms of an ongoing composition that is more or less seamless, so that you’re not pointing out the A section and the B section so specifically. I think that would be one ideal. Yet someone who listens to the music should be aware of the structure.

Lee Konitz, quoted by Andy Hamilton in Conversations on the Improviser’s Art

Written by nevalalee

October 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

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