Improvising Alongside the Gods of Chaos

Learn the Rules Like a Pro So You Can Break them Like an Artist __ Guess Who

We are sent to school to learn the rules so that we can succeed. So why are so many well-educated people driving taxis or pushing brooms, while a considerable number of high school and college dropouts are flying around in private jets?

Clearly the billionaire dropouts learned some important rules — but not necessarily from their teachers. And clearly they learned how to ignore some old rules, learned to improvise new rules, and learned how to turn their failures around again and again until they succeeded.

Improvisation is a state of being and creating action without pre-planning. This can be when an individual or group is acting, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, talking, creating artworks, problem solving, or reacting in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act. __ Wikipedia Improvisation

I have a friend who is a skilled classical violinist. He confessed to me that for the life of him, he could not understand jazz. I tried to explain the relationship between extended chords and corresponding scales, and how jazz musicians used these powerful musical tools to improvise one-of-a-kind musical flights of fancy in the middle of a group performance. He just shrugged. I couldn’t blame him. Most kinds of complex and effective improvisation can’t be well described using words. You have to feel it.

And really, improvisation is not for everyone, particularly those who take the rules too seriously. The best improvisers spend a lot of time building the skills they use to make improvisation seem effortless.

One of the most breathtakingly spontaneous forms of improvisation in the middle of absolute chaos is surviving serious hand-to-hand combat.

… all fights devolve into utter chaos and resemble nothing you’ve ever planned for. Any other representation of violence is sheer delusion and fantasy. __ Adapt or Die

You cannot plan for all possible situations or types of attack. But you can train yourself so that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to react quickly and effectively with an improvised defence.

A spontaneous life or death attack usually moves too quickly for someone to rely on formal fight training. Sure, you need to know how to make effective moves with speed, accuracy, focus, and power. But if you can’t react “in the moment” to what is happening — without regard to any formal fighting technique — you will probably be in big trouble.

Improvisation is not just for “acting, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, talking, creating artworks, problem solving”, fighting, . . . It is in fact the most satisfying way that we can live our lives.

We quite properly learn rules and traditions as children, thus helping us to avoid a wide range of destructive actions and behaviours in childhood and adolescence. As we grow older we learn the principles that underlie these rules and traditions. And then we begin to improvise, based on a more profound rational substrate.

A lot of people feel threatened by improvisational behaviour in particular settings. Airline pilots and neurosurgeons, for example, are not expected to diverge too widely from accepted procedures. But most parts of our lives are not so tightly constrained.

Learning Simple Jazz Improvisation

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