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Improvisation and the pentatonic scale

Learning saxophone (although I’ve recently lost access to one to practice with) included learning more about improvisation.

Beginner improv videos recommend using the pentatonic scale, or five notes per octave. If you were to count it out, it’s the 1-2-3-5-6 notes in a major scale (ex. C D E G A in C-major).

Some of the idea seems to be that limiting the options also provides more room for creativity, and the likelihood of making something that sounds nice. There’s no need for tons of notes to make something interesting, especially when improvizing “on top of” (what I was trying with sax) something else.

I recorded a TidalCycles song last night (listen here), using an A-major pentatonic scale:

-- Title: upstate
-- Recorded: 5/25/2022

setcps 0.8
d1 $ s "~ bd" # lpf 500 # n 3
xfade 2 $ s "arp/2" # lpf 200
d3 $ s "lt*2" # lpf 200
d4 $ slow 2 $ n "<a e fs>" # s "superhex" # room 0.2 # legato 2
d4 $ n "<<e b> <a cs> <cs a> e fs>" # s "superhex" # room 0.2 # legato 2
d4 $ jux (rev) $ fast 2 $ n "<<e b> <a cs> <cs a> e fs>(2,5)" # s "superhex" # room 0.2 # legato 2
d4 $ jux (rev) $ n "<<e b> <a cs> <cs a> e fs>*2" # s "superhex" # room 0.2 # legato 2
xfade 4 $ s "~"
hush

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