I start this video off with an improvisation before playing my arrangement of a theme from Chopin’s second piano sonata. This particular arrangement comes from my second volume of easy arrangements available at my website.
So what do I think about while I improvise? Short answer is…not much. That’s the ideal–just let the music flow. The arrangement is in A minor so I figured I would improvise in A minor before going into the theme. Every now and then I’ll hit an unexpected note and the challenge is to make it fit. For example, around the 2:24ish mark I hit a C-sharp which I wasn’t planning on. The C-sharp would give the feeling of A major which is something I wasn’t looking to do. After I hit the C-sharp I decided to hit it again and then move down chromatically to the E. That’s the decision I made in the second or two after I hit that C-sharp. Little things like this are what I think about while I am improvising.
This piece is a half composed/half improv piece. The chord progression for the repeating section was composed ahead of time (Am, Em, Gm, Em, E) but the in between sections are improvised–sort of. I wanted to make use of tapping, so, in the score, I wrote, “tapping.” The specific notes weren’t worked out ahead of time. Here is the score I wrote…
What I love about this type of improv is that I am giving it some direction. It’s very easy to improv and kind of meander around without making much sense (which I actually like as well) but in this case I kind of put a frame around the improvisation.