Illinois State University professor and double bassist Bill Koehler just released a new book called A Guide to the Developmental Processes of Improvisation and Composition. Here is a description of this book from Bill’s website. Visit that site to learn more about this new project. You can order a copy of the book here.
A Guide to the Developmental Processes of Improvisation and Composition presents a unique and unifying approach to the development of compositional and improvisational craft. Chapters in this guide are sequentially organized by musical elements in the following order: (1) Melody, the horizontal component of music (monophony), (2) Melodic Development, Embellishment, and Expansion, (3) Texture, the combination of two or more independent melodies (polyphony), (4) Harmony, addressing the vertical component in music (homophony), (5) Rhythm and Metric Organization, and, (6) Form, the architecture of music. In addition, Chapter 7 presents a number of Complete Works by the author, which are offered for study and performance. Techniques for motivic development, variation, and organizational concepts described in this guide are illustrated with original compositions, excerpts, or improvisations. Each of the original compositions and transcribed improvisations has a description, analysis, and often a conceptual plan in which the evolution of its organization is recalled. In today’s “serious music” (I include Contemporary Classical, Contemporary Jazz, and Classical music of World cultures in this category), the conceptual boundaries of texture, chordal/polychordal harmony, and tonality/polytonality are often obscured. For the purpose of organizing these individual concepts, each is presented in various ways to enable the reader to gain understanding from a variety of perspectives.
Each technique and concept in the book is organized by units and indexed. Therefore, the ideas presented in this book can be explored in any order. Suggestions for the reader’s personal exploration of each concept, called “Activities”, follow each unit, and, if advised, a CD of all musical examples could be included. In addition, a number of compositions used and discussed in the text are included on the authors CD’s entitled Glimpse and journey2gether. It is hoped that this compendium of techniques and concepts will serve improvisers and composers regardless of style or genre, since the myriad of techniques can be employed universally.