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Improvisation By Degrees

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Improvisation By Degrees is designed to teach the art of musical improvisation.

For many musicians, professional and amateur, improvisation becomes something difficult, complicated, or even magic. This is because they do not have the adequate knowledge and skills to do a good improvisation. When we speak of improvisation, we refer to the ability to play a melody, with a musical instrument, without following any kind of score or pre-established pattern. For example, a guitarist can be guided by the notes of the bass, the piano chords and rhythm of the drums, to improvise a melody that he never played before, and maybe it will never be played again.

Improvisation By Degrees is a course with various lessons, the objective of that lessons is to teach improvisation, regardless of the instrument that is played, or the style of music that we practice. We may think that improvisation can not be learned, and that should be something that comes out of the inside, without any kind of theory or logic. This software provides a learning-based musical theories and patterns, which once dominated and internalized, may be expressed in a natural way, without having to theorize or think about them. Therefore, we get a natural, smooth and harmonious improvisation, as the notes that we play will be based on the principles taught in this course.

When we start using the software we have to choose the instrument with which we want to play in the course. We can choose between:

  • Piano
  • String instruments: Guitar (classical, electrical, acoustic and 12 string), Bass (4, 5 and 6-string), Mandolin, Banjo, Viola, Violin and Cello.
  • Wind instruments: Sax (baritone, tenor, alto and soprano), Trumpet, Clarinet, Flute, Trombone and Tuba.

When we chose the musical instrument desired, we will see the instrument representation. In the case of the piano, we will see the white and black keys of the piano with a point located in the middle C. If we choose a stringed instrument, we will see the mast represented along with the number of strings that correspond to the instrument. In the case of wind instruments, we will see a representation of a piano, in which the range of notes that this instrument is able to play are highlighted.

At any time we can click on the key or a instrument string to play the corresponding note.String instruments in addition, can select different tunings: baroque, drop D, etc. If the instrument with which we wish to practice doesn't exist, we can add and configure it in the menu of the program.

Once we have selected the musical instrument, we will be able to start the course. We will see on the left side a list of all the lessons that make up the course. It is convenient to go in order, and not to skip any, as the course is designed to acquire certain skills that will be required as we move forward.

The course consists of explanatory text, demonstrations of the theory, and practices that must be done. In first place it's explained what is improvisation, and gradually we will be introduced to the method of learning, which focuses on improvisation taking into account, primarily, the chords that sound in the musical base.

The program supports MIDI instruments connection via cable, and audio recognition of notes through microphone. This will be useful for certain exercises in which we will play our instrument and the program will recognize the notes that we are playing.

As we move forward in the course, we will do different exercises, which we will be able to review, and to see our progress. In any point of the course, we will be able to perform a backup, or if we prefer, you can activate the automatic backups, which will make backups of our progress at the time that we schedule.

The program includes a tuner, which play different notes to help us fine-tune our instrument. It also includes a library with different scales for different instruments, where we will see a graphical representation of the notes that make up the scale. Another tool included is a Tempo tutor. This tutor proposes a number of tests to improve the ability to recognize the Tempo of the songs.

Briefly, this software is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn how to improvise. There is a Jazz saying: “Improvising is easy. Improvising well is difficult”.

Improvisation By Degrees is paid software and offers a demo in which we can take the first lessons of the course, which will be more than enough for us to get an idea of whether the software convinces us or not.