for classical musicians

Alternating hands improvisation

This is a very simple idea for a virtuosic-sounding improvisation! Extra layers can be improvised over the top using a multitrack recorder, or just the record/playback function of a digital piano.

1. Place the hands close together on the keyboard and play rapid notes, alternating between L.H. and R.H.

2. I find it works really well to play black notes in the L.H. and white notes in the R.H., (with my left hand over the top)

3. Once you feel comfortable playing fast notes in this way you'll notice that certain little figures can be repeated, making a patterned musical texture. For example:

4. I like to establish these patterns in my hands, then change them making new patterns. This can happen rapidly or over a long stretch of time.

5. Finally, you can use a multitrack recorder or the record/playback function of a digital piano to improvise new layers over the top. In my version (below) I added first new patterns creating a complex texture, then short, sharp chords on the white notes. This makes it sound a bit like an old-fashioned mechanical piano!

Alternating hands improvisation