Improvising melodies on a chord progression
This exercise step by step develops improvising a melody on a repetitive tonal chord progression: the pendulum I – II 6/5 in major.
The exercise consists of 5 sub-exercises that are shown successively in the video: 1. Chord pendulum – the players internalize the chords of the pendulum by arpeggiating them in real time with the piano accompaniment; 2. Free melody – the players are invited to improvise a free melody on the ongoing accompaniment; 3. Imitation – each player improvises a short melody on the pendulum that will be repeated by the next player; 4. Imitation with counterpoint – like 3., but this time each imitation is provided with an improvised second voice by the previous player; 5. Group improvisation – like 4., but this time each musician continues playing, resulting in a gradual increase of the number of voices, until all musicians are playing together.
This exercise not only trains the internalization of harmony and the skill of imagining (and at the same time performing) a melody that matches these chords, but also the awareness of lines that are played by others, and the ability to remember this information while playing.