Technique of Improvising in Music Therapy -3

by - Dr. T V Sairam

Some of the Variations in improvisation methods which are commonly used are explained in the table:

Improvisation Methods
Instrumental referentialIt refers to creating tunes, melodies or rhythms with the help of selected musical instrument(s) in accordance with a reference such as an event, feeling, image or relationship in the client’s life. The musical piece, so created, is soaked with such feelings that could induce catharsis.
Instrumental non-referentialIt refers to creating music with the help of selected musical instrument(s) without any reference (For example, a person is handed over a drum or xylophone and is asked to pay it freely without any restriction whatsoever.)
Song improvisationIt refers to creating lyrics for a melody or singing a song along with the singer with a different/deviated melody. The method is known to give more creative opportunities.
Vocal non-referentialIt refers to creating a vocal piece mindlessly without words or images or meanings.
Body improvisation It refers to creating various kinds of body sounds with different rhythms, decibels and frequencies.
Mixed mediaIt refers to creating a musical piece with any possible combination of instrumental, vocal, or body sounds
Conducted improvisationIt refers to creating a musical stanza or a musical piece by giving directive cues to one or more improvisers

Bruscia (1998) has identified the following clinical goals, which can be achieved through the various improvisation methods:

  • To establish a nonverbal channel of communication, and a bridge to verbal communication
  • To provide a fulfilling means of self-expression and identity formation
  • To explore various aspects of self in relation to others
  • To develop the capacity for interpersonal intimacy
  • To develop group skills

  • To develop creativity, expressive freedom, and playfulness with various degrees of structure
  • To stimulate and develop the senses
  • To play, on the spot, with a decisiveness that invites clarity of intention.
  • To develop perceptual and cognitive skills.

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Dr T V Sairam, A serving bureaucrat and a writer, is from F/48B, Hari Nagar New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam @ gmail. com