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Variation

This week we will discuss how the improviser develops melodic themes in a solo. As mentioned in week 1, there are natural comparisons between speech and improvising that illustrate how this functions. The most common technique for telling a musical story that engages the listener for the duration of your solo is by using a traditional concept called theme and variation. That is, you introduce a theme—a musical phrase—then repeat it, making variations on it to develop an interesting storyline. A good solo is like an explanation, or a good story. The explanation or story is the content of improvisation.

Berklee College of Music
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