Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act. This invention cycle occurs most effectively when the practitioner has a thorough intuitive and technical understanding of the necessary skills and concerns within the improvised domain. Improvisation can be thought of as an "on the spot" or "off the cuff" spontaneous activity.
The skills of improvisation can apply to many different abilities or forms of communication and expression across all artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic, and non-academic disciplines. For example, improvisation can make a significant contribution in music, dance, cooking, presenting a speech, sales, personal or romantic relationships, sports, flower arranging, martial arts, psychotherapy, and much more. Techniques of improvisation are widely trained in the entertainment arts; for example, music, theatre and dance.To "extemporize" or "ad lib" is basically the same as improvising. Colloquial terms such as "let's play it by ear," "take it as it comes," and "make it up as we go along" are all used to describe "improvisation."
The simple act of speaking requires a good deal of improvisation because the mind is addressing its own thought and creating its unrehearsed delivery in words, sounds and gestures, forming unpredictable statements that feed back into the thought process (the performer as listener), creating an enriched process that is not unlike instantaneous composition [with a given set or repertoire of elements].
Where the improvisation is intended to solve a problem on a temporary basis, the 'proper' solution being unavailable at the time, it may be known as a stop-gap. This particularly applies to engineering improvisations.
Improvisation is usually defined as composing music while singing or playing an instrument at the same time. In other words, the art of improvisation can be understood as composing music "on the fly". This requires great skill and knowledge, and is a very important aspect of music in general. Musical improvisers often understand the idiom of one or more musical styles — such as blues, rock, folk, jazz — and work within the idiom and music-theory of the certain style to express ideas with creativity and originality. Improvisation can take place as a solo performance, or interdependently in ensemble with other players. When done well, it often elicits gratifying emotional responses from the audience. Very few musicians have ever dared to offer fully improvised concerts such as the famous improvised piano recitals by classical composers/pianists like Franz Liszt. The origins of Liszt's improvisation in an earlier tradition of playing variations on a theme were mastered and epitomized by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. However, some have managed some attempts similar to these precedents, one of the most successful of these is Keith Jarrett, a jazz pianist and multi-instrumentalist who has performed many completely improvised concerts all over the world. In the same creative aesthetic as such named masters, including the late innovator and guitar master Derek Bailey, comes a new breed of improvising musician. Pioneers like cellist Eugene Friesen have brought improvisation to traditionally classical instruments. A few pianists have given modern recitals of improvisation in the baroque style, which may be less intimidating because of its stricter development and range of modulation and yet, on the other hand, more daunting because of its polyphony. One of the masters in the style of baroque improvisation was Glenn Gould. There have also been a few other exceptional improvised solo piano concerts in Stuttgart, Southern Germany in the 1990s. There are also full bands who play 100% live improvisation music at their concerts, making up the standards, patterns, rhythms, melodies, harmonies, lyrics, solos, etc. at the top of their heads. Examples are bands like Xlovers 'Beyond Jazz' 2003 Concerts  , and the band 42winA2, Holland 2010. In the realm of silent film music, there are also a small number of musicians whose work has been recognized as exceptional by critics, scholars and audiences alike: Neil Brand, Guenter A. Buchwald, Philip Carli, Stephen Horne, Donald Sosin, John Sweeney, and Gabriel Thibaudeau, all performers at the annual conference on silent film in Pordenone, Italy, "Le Giornate del Cinema Muto." Their performances have to match the style and pacing of the films they accompany, often at first sight, and demand a knowledge of a wide range of musical styles, as well as the stamina to play for films which occasionally run over three hours in length without a pause. It is used in drama to act out characters.
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