Improvising with MIDIgrid
Although it has many editing and recording features, MIDIgrid is essentially a real-time performance tool. It allows the user to create a virtual instrument that plays only the notes or chords required in a particular improvisation session. These can then be played with a mouse or triggered from an external MIDI device.
Resources can be laid out on screen in the way a user finds most intuitive. For busy teachers and others who prefer not to do this themselves, The Full Pitcher Music Resources has created grids to facilitate many different kinds of improvisation.
Even experienced instrumentalists find it useful to focus on the musical raw materials, free to follow their ideas without the need to coordinate fingering, tonguing, etc., at the same time.
With MIDIgrid, even a a non-instrumentalist, or someone with a disability, can explore the musical materials. Freed from the limitations of instrumental technique, players of all ages and abilities are encouraged to think in purely musical terms.
Those just beginning to improvise melodically must absorb the principles of balance, repetition and variation essential to a fluent and convincing improvised performance. There are many grids that support the acquisition of these important skills, with music and activities at all levels from pre-school to adult.
Backing tracks often contribute much to rhythmic and harmonic security, particularly for jazz players and they provide a fuller and more enjoyable experience for the player.
Tracks using up to 16 separate instruments or MIDI channels can be imported into MIDIgrid as standard MIDI files or recorded, track by track, in the program. Playback can, additionally, be triggered from an external switch or, when playing with the mouse, synchronised to start when another cell is played.
In MIDIgrid, we can widen our pool of resources to play music that would be physically impossible on an acoustic instrument.
For example, one student created ‘piano’ chords in which the notes are too numerous and widely spaced to be played by two hands. In addition to sparking fresh ideas in composers, this also opens up avenues of exploration for improvisers.
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