Jump to content
scorpius

Improvisation vs. Ad lib

Recommended Posts

Hi there,

How are these 2 musical terms related to each other? Are they the same? Or completely different from one another, or just complimenting each other? Can a song have one without the other (most songs have ad libs anyway)?

I have been playing songs mostly on chords, and I'm just wondering whether which is better: to play the original ad lib of a song or to make an improvisation.

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me these are both the same,if you look up the definition of Adlib it will say to improvise.

In both cases you are doing something that is not programmed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting question, I suppose if you play the original Ad lib of a song that you have heard someone else do, then you'ld already know the song in that form so in theory you'ld neither be ad-libbing or improvising as you wouldn't be making it up, if you wanted to put your own stamp on the song, you could make some extra words or do it in a different style, then you'd be improvising, actually found another word for these Extemporize which is cool. Hope this makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies, knight46 and starsailor.

Yeah, normally, I would just play the chords while humming the tune when the adlib part comes and be contented with it. So, in that case no improvisation. Am I right to think that to improvise also needs some songwriting skills (which I don't have I think)? Because I might add something to a song that I am playing and yet I may not be satisfied with the result. Or something like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Am I right to think that to improvise also needs some songwriting skills (which I don't have I think)? Because I might add something to a song that I am playing and yet I may not be satisfied with the result.

I wouldn't say song writing skills are needed, but I would say a certain level of music theory is needed to be able to know what key you're playing in and what the possibilities are. I think with improvisation, occasionally you may not be happy with the results, but other times you will be extremly happy. You can't be sure because its unplanned by nature. With experience, your improvisation skills will improve. That's the way i see it.

I spend most of my "guitar time" improvising and i don't have any songwriting skills whatsoever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wouldn't say song writing skills are needed, ..... I think with improvisation, occaisionally you may not be happy with the results,..... because its unplanned by nature.

I spend most of my "guitar time" improvising and i don't have any songwriting skills whatsoever.

At least I am relieved.:yes:

But please don't get me wrong 'cause I have nothing against improvisation (I want to improve my guitar-playing actually). If I do an improvisation today, for instance, what will be the chance that I will be playing the same notes again, for the same song the next time around? I am comparing this to the adlib / riff of a song which is already "fixed" by the original players.

My final point will be, shall I just learn the adlib / riff for that song or shall I do the improv?

Or thinking back again, I might have to do them one at a time?

I hope I am making sense here.:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that ad. lib in a piece of music is saying "feel free to improvise at this point" (but only if you feel like it). It it encouraging (not forcing) you to put your personal musical stamp on it. So the ad. lib part is only really "fixed" by the artist if you want it to stay as the original. What you do and how much you wish to change it from the orginal music is completely up to you (but may also depend on the skills and experience you have as a guitarist and what you feel comfortable with).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok thanks a lot, chorizo.

Actually, this week I have started jamming (note picking / playing) while listening to a song. And really, some notes are compatible or jiving with the tune being played at the moment, while others are not. I think I'll give a try on improvising. And see how far I can go. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At least I am relieved.:yes:

But please don't get me wrong 'cause I have nothing against improvisation (I want to improve my guitar-playing actually). If I do an improvisation today, for instance, what will be the chance that I will be playing the same notes again, for the same song the next time around? I am comparing this to the adlib / riff of a song which is already "fixed" by the original players.

My final point will be, shall I just learn the adlib / riff for that song or shall I do the improv?

Or thinking back again, I might have to do them one at a time?

I hope I am making sense here.:)

I think if you feel that you can add something to the song by improvising it's good to do it, it won't always work but it will be good fun trying, if you think what you've done sounds good and you want to keep it, just note down the chords/notes you used, if you're playing with other guitarists etc. you may want to use your modified version of the song so they'll need to know where the changes are, if you're solo no such worries unless you're worried about audience reaction. I Think music is all about free expression as is any Art, doing things by rote all the time would make the world a very boring place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think if you feel that you can add something to the song by improvising it's good to do it, it won't always work but it will be good fun trying, if you think what you've done sounds good and you want to keep it, just note down the chords/notes you used, if you're playing with other guitarists etc. you may want to use your modified version of the song so they'll need to know where the changes are, if you're solo no such worries unless you're worried about audience reaction. I Think music is all about free expression as is any Art, doing things by rote all the time would make the world a very boring place.

Thanks for the tips, starsailor.:winkthumb:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...My final point will be, shall I just learn the adlib / riff for that song or shall I do the improv?...

I'd say it depends. Some songs are very dependent upon a certain "signature riff", and wouldn't sound the same without it.....others can be played differently every time and nobody would notice it much. Even the original artists often play their solos differently when performing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd say it depends. Some songs are very dependent upon a certain "signature riff", and wouldn't sound the same without it.....others can be played differently every time and nobody would notice it much. Even the original artists often play their solos differently when performing.

You're right, Stratrat. Thanks for that. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am glad to be a member here and appear forward to talking to you all and sharing some of my hobbies which include things like woodworking and designing plans for woodworking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×