By Rick McVicar
I enjoy improvising with synthesizers, both digital and analog, made by Arturia, and a violin. The mixing keeps my brain health recovery on track.
I have developed a certain style that I like to call baroque blues because I combine classical with blues musical genres. I use multi-track recording software, MixPad, to blend together the violin and synthesizers. Sometimes I add a percussion track to the mix.
In my mind, I have at library of various phrases I can draw on to place into a string of music to create melodies in a myriad of variations. I can play those phrases in different key signatures and tempos to create different melodies.
My father, who is now past, once accused me of playing just a single melody with variations. He had a well-tuned ear and fully understood my creativity and playing method.
Occasionally, my playing takes me to a state of transcendence. I’ll catch a groove and completely feel beside myself. The air feels lighter and I am full of joy when that happens. My playing becomes advanced and I will reach new levels of difficulty.
That said, I am not much of a musician when I try to play sheet music. Oh, I enjoy writing sheet music. I love to create new music. I enjoy listening to new music. I’m just not very taken with music that has been around a while and seems to be yellowing on sheet music.
When I try to play sheet music, even my own, the muscles in my hands and fingers do not want to cooperate. I can play over a series of fast notes a thousand times and still have a hard time putting them together. When I improvise, I have no trouble with a string of fast notes.
I have previously written a blog about “Schizophrenia Behind the Great Jazz,” written by Hersa Aranti and Elizabeth K. Poerwandari. The article was published by Atlantis Press, August, 2019.
According to these researchers, some people with schizophrenia might have an advantage at playing improvisation while not being able to play off sheet music.
I am left wondering if their article applies to me, as I have a form of schizophrenia, called schizoaffective disorder. I wonder if that is why sheet music leaves me feeling frustrated while improvisation gives me pleasure.