Some composers have regarded improvisation as an indispensable warm-up for their creative task.
Prior to the instrumental era in the West, improvisation within the systematized musical context was largely limited to ornamental variants of vocal parts in polyphonic compositions and to instrumental adaptations of vocal compositions, especially by lute and keyboard virtuosos.
Here, too, the process is usually inspired by, and structured (however loosely) in accordance with, salient characteristics of the model in question, be it a well-known show tune or a ground bass.
Many an idea so generated eventually appeared in a written composition.
It is generally assumed that early European music from Roman Catholic chant to medieval polyphony was rooted in such improvisational practices as the exploration of motivic possibilities in the church modes ( elaborations, and Indian raga performances.
In the West, cantus firmus improvisation inspired a great deal of instrumental music as well, beginning with late Renaissance improvisations over ostinato basses (relatively short repeated bass patterns) and maintained through the centuries especially by organists who embraced such popular ostinato genres as the passacaglia and chaconne.
Over the years it has become burnished like a well-worn table at which countless meals have taken place.
And there, among the dishes and scratched spoons are those same rhythms of life, having left their hieroglyphics behind for deciphering.
Trusting in the way of the waves, as he says in the title track…” Accompanying these sentiments—in truth, embodying them—is Williamson’s trusty harp.