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Jazz/improvisation in a jazz performance


How and when is improvisation and composition used in a (typical ) jazz performance? I looked online and couldn't find the answer to this. My instructor didn't really know too much about this, and did try looking online but couldn't find this. Thank you.

Hello Rohith and thank you for contacting me through

Jazz is more of a "how" than a "what." Almost any piece of music can be played as Jazz if the musician is skilled. However, there is no set answer to when improvisation is used during the performance. Each player expresses themselves as they choose. This is one of the very reasons why each Jazz musician is unique, having their own style.

Some compositions are written as Jazz, employing musical phrases and styles associated with the genre, while other pieces are taken from sources outside that of Jazz, such as Popular Song, Broadway Show Tunes or even World Music, and then played with an improvising Jazz approach.

Here is a helpful article:

Thanks for the interest,

D C DowDell
Professor of Music
A Passion for Jazz!


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D C DowDell


D C DowDell will answer questions about Jazz improvisation, composition, chord voicing, scales and modes, practice techniques and ear training. Professor DowDell also enjoys discussions on Jazz musicology and the evolution of style.

D C DowDell is a professional Jazz pianist/composer who currently teaches online Jazz studies at A Passion for Jazz!. Professor DowDell has been teaching music for over 30 years at 2 major universities, several community colleges as well as accepting students for private study.


American Federation of Musicians
National Music Teachers Association
International Association of Jazz Educators

Bachelors of Music Education from UCLA
Masters of Music Composition from UNT

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