Found A New Tool – Impro-Visor!

Hi All,

As you’ll note by the main page on my web site, in addition to my own stuff, I also maintain a LinkedIn profile. It’s kind of like a public billboard for professionals that facilitates networking, job searching, etc. Well, LinkedIn also has groups that you can join. On Sunday night, I got a wild hair stuck in my (rather clean shaven) head to search for groups related to jazz — not just the typical professional stuff I usually join. I found a group called Jazz Friends (nice name) and decided to join. I took some time to wander around the forums yesterday and one of the folks that I came  across is a guy by the name of Bob Keller.

Bob is a Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA and has built a program called Impro-Visor. There’s lots of cool things that this program can do. It can:

  • Play backing tracks and styles like Band In A Box
  • Generate solos appropriate for the song and gives you the ability to create your own
  • Notates (visually using color on the staff) whether notes are dissonant or not, given the changes
  • Run on multiple platforms (if you’re waiting for BIAB on Linux, expect it to be a LONG wait)

So, let’s run through a scenario. Let’s say we’re working on a Real Book tune “Song For My Father” and we want to  get some ideas for what might make a good solo over it.

We’ll start by either creating the lead sheet from scratch or loading up the song into Impro-Visor (which I’ve done). It’s important to note that my screen capture only shows a portion of the lead sheet… the rest IS there, you just can’t scroll down the image and see it!.

Impro-Visor with "Song For My Father" loaded

Impro-Visor with "Song For My Father" loaded

Now, given that we want to see what a solo might look like, our next step is to create one! To do that, all we have to do is to go to the upper part of the window and mash (yes, that’s a technical term) the orange button that says “Generate”. BOOM!

"Song For My Father" with generated solo

"Song For My Father" with generated solo

Just that quickly, we now have a solo! Impro-Visor starts to play the it and you can follow it along on the lead sheet visually as it plays. The fact that it can generate it isn’t the most impressive part. No. The most impressive part is that you can customize the rules engine that is used to generate the solo, so you can have it come out as you like it!

I think that there are a number of applications and ways in which this tool can be used. For example:

  • Tune Analysis
  • Ear Training
  • Improvisation
  • Sight Reading

There’s lots of goodness here that I’m interested in and planning on exploring. If you’re into building your chops/skills and using innovative technology to help facilitate this, you would be well served to consider Impro-Visor as part of your toolkit.

Best of all is the price — ZERO, nada, nothing! You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Give a try and let me know what you think. Can you think of other uses or applications?

August 20, 2009 · kengon · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Music

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