Monday, February 9, 2015

Create52: #6 -- Impromptu

I like improvisation -- that sense of juggling ideas on the fly, creating impromptu things off the cuff, in the moment with little preconception, and hoping that something good comes out of it.

Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by what I end up creating; sometimes I fall off the tightrope and crash to the ground amid a pile of poorly-executed results. But either way, the fun of creating in the moment is still worth it.

Or at least I hope it is.

But before I go any farther, let me offer a reminder of what I'm doing here in this Create52 post: This is the sixth of what I hope is a year-long series of 52 posts under my 2105 blogging initiative -- to create something new and offer it here on my blog each and every Monday.  You can get a little more background about my Create52 goal HERE, in my first Create52 post of 2015, if you'd like.

Impromptu I -- Improvised 'Wistful Reggae' recently added another track to wikiloops -- this is the fabulous online jam site where you can create and interact with hundreds of other musicians around the globe via uploaded and shared jams.  I found an overlooked reggae track by the user "pingala" which I thought was kind of cool.  I liked the keyboard-driven, slightly-weird, reggae mix and thought it would be fun to add some guitar.

So I added three guitar tracks, all kind of spacy and ambient, and all recorded quickly in a spur-of-the-moment series of improvised tracks.

As always, it was fun to do, but here's the thing -- listening back to the final version, I'm not sure I really like it.  Take a listen and see what you think.  You can click on the picture to the right, my 'StratoRapor' icon to the left, or on the link HERE.
This is one of the things about Impromptu creativity -- it can be kind of hit or miss. It can have a certain kind of unique energy that is often missing in tightly-woven, heavily-structured pieces which have been recorded and re-recorded until each part is 'perfect'. And when it works, it's magical.  This is why Deadheads love certain live recordings and often shrug their shoulders at the records the Grateful Dead made in the studio.

But it can also end up being as disappointing and unsatisfying as watching a juggler drop balls all over the place. It can be frustrating because it gives hints as to what "might have been," and yet still fall sort.

I don't know -- maybe I'm too hard on myself.  If nothing else, it's something 'new' that I created which didn't exist before.

And that's the whole point of Create52.

Impromptu II -- In Prompts, Too!

But sometimes the muses come through and the impromptu efforts pay off, too.

I didn't want this edition of my Create52 to have only a piece of music I find lacking. So I thought I'd try some off-the-cuff piece of writing since I haven't got anything else new and finished to share. I visited the old Creative Copy Challenge website to see what their latest ten-word prompt was, and spent a half-hour or so to come up with this, which I call "A Fluke of Nature."

I'm not going to suggest that it's stellar writing, but for a rough-draft, spur-of-the-moment, thrown-together impromptu piece that used all ten prompt words in order, I think it turned out fairly well.

You can check it out HERE or below (the ten prompt words are in bold):


Fluke of Nature

Doctor Nathanial Hawkins paused, uncertain how to respond to his newest client. As a highly-sought and very successful plastic surgeon to the rich and powerful, he’d almost become jaded to the odd requests he’d had in his career, but he still found himself flustered at what Brooke Swanson was asking.

“I’m not sure it would be… in your best interest,” he finally said.

“You don’t have to be subtle with me,” she said. “I want your blunt assessment, not your sugar-coated opinions. Is it possible?”

Hawkins sighed and regarded her — mid-thirties, beautiful, excellent health, and obscenely wealthy. In essence, she was the perfect patient for much of his work. But she wanted much more than a tummy tuck or a new nose.

“Yes, I actually think it could be possible. But I question the ethics of doing it.”

She laughed. “I don’t care about the ethics. It’s my decision and it’s between you and me. I’ll sign whatever release forms you want to make sure your ass is covered. I only demand absolute secrecy. But I would hope you have had enough experience with the subterfuge needed to hide your work from the prying public.”

In his mind, he ran through the procedures required. Each would be extensive and challenging. But they would also be ground-breaking.

“You won’t be able to hide it forever,” he said. “Something of this magnitude will eventually leak out.”

“I only need long enough to heal. Then my pilot and my staff will fly me out the US. I already have the island set up, thousands of miles away from the news media and the lawyers. All I’ll have around me will be the froth from the rolling waves and blue water in every direction.”

Hawkins let his thoughts wander again. If what she was asking for worked, it would be amazing, unlike anything ever attempted. The results would be simply marvelous to behold. He would become even more famous — not just to the aging elite desperately searching to maintain the illusion of youth. He would become a household name.

And he had to admit to himself he was excited about it.

# # #

Hawkins removed his hat and wiped his brow. The tropical sun was relentless, but the view across the sparkling lagoon was spectacular. Brooke Swanson had chosen well on this isolated island. He followed the ripples as she swam up to the dock.

“So what do you think, Doctor Hawkins?” she said after breaching the water. “You still like your work?”

“Call me Nate,” he said. “They removed my license following the trial. I’m no longer technically a doctor.”

“I’m sorry about that,” she said.

“I’m not. It was worth it.”

“I’m glad you feel that way. I flew you down because I wanted to make sure. And also to offer to increase your payment as restitution. I didn’t intend to ruin your career.”

He admired the sleekness of the plasticized skin covering the buoyancy chambers along her sides; the intricate way the dorsal fin had been grafted onto her spine; the smooth streamline of curves as her merged legs flowed into the wide fluke of her dolphin-like tail; and the delicate way the embedded tubes ran under her cheekbones from her sinus cavities to the artificial gills implanted along her neck.

She used her arms to tread water in front of him, her webbed fingers sweeping gracefully through the water

He thought her even more beautiful than she had ever been.

“You didn’t ruin my career,” he said. “You made it.”

He laughed. “The operation was a complete success, and because of you, I’ll be forever known as the man who made a mermaid.”

# # #


So what do you think -- did either of these impromptu pieces turned out worthwhile?  And even if not, was the fun of improvised creativity worth enough as it's own reward?

Do you like improvisation and creating impromptu things yourself on the spur of the moment?

Thank you so very much for visiting -- I greatly appreciate it!  See you next Monday!


  1. I didn't find that guitar piece lacking. Had a nice, calming vibe to it.

    1. Thank you, Alex. I admit I'm not the best critic of my own work. I tend to focus on all the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" aspects that I wish I'd done differently, all the things that strike me as 'mistakes', and all the ways it doesn't quite measure up to my expectations.

      And this piece tends to have a few more of those elements in it than I would like. But to be 100% truthful -- I'm not thrilled with it, but if I thought it was completely horrible, I'd never have posted it on my blog (and I've got my fair share of "not good enough to see the light of day" pieces, too). ;)

  2. Impromptu is your forte. Not everyone can pull it off, Chris - but I think you may have a knack for it.

  3. Hey...I can juggle. At least I used to be able to. :) I already downloaded that piece of music this weekend. Another stellar effort!

    I while you excel at writing prompts (another awesome piece)...I suck at it. Oh well.

    1. If "juggle" means "having three balls all in the air at the same time" then, technically, I can juggle too -- for less than five seconds before they fall to the ground. ;)

      Thank you for your support of, DL -- It means a LOT to me!

  4. Firstly you won me over with that great juggling picture. I expected a juggling story to accompany it, but that's okay.

    The musical piece was very nice. It actually took me a while to realize that it was a continuous loop I was enjoying it so much. I'm still listening to it in fact.

    The writing piece was interesting. You did a nice job of incorporating the words and the ending was an unexpected twist.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. No, sorry... No juggling story. Just a tepid analogy to the "in-the-moment" aspects of improvisation.

      I really appreciate your kind words, Arlee! Thank you!

  5. Loved the mermaid piece. Very clever and subtle.

  6. The music piece was nice, easy on the mind. But I really loved the mermaid story. Hooked me up front and reeled me in.

    1. Thank you, LD! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

      I think the story was fun to do (and I got a kick out of your fishing metaphors, loll!. But It's not what I would call great writing -- it was just one of those things that was thrown together in response to prompt words, and sometimes improvising something out of thin air turns out ok. Looking back over it, I see a LOT of need for editing and tightening, but that's OK. I didn't share it because I thought it was polished and perfect.

      The point of improv is not to create something perfect -- it's the fun and joy of creating in the moment. Sometimes it works out ok and you get something entertaining; sometimes it doesn't work out as well.

      But either way -- I still think it's fun. :)

  7. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. I love the musical piece. Just enough reggae to 'feel like home to me', but not too heavy handed. Kind of like a jazzy reggae. This one is better 'n a 'home run'.

    Also, the mermaid piece is great. I didn't see it coming, but tell me who wouldn't want to be a MERMAID? The music and the flash piece seem to go together greatly. You are really on a roll with this 'Create 52' thing.

    1. Thank you FAE! "Jazzy reggae?" Yeah, I guess I can hear that. But I think it's more spacey and trippy than anything, and not nearly as coherent as it coulda, shoulda, woulda...

      And I'm glad you enjoyed the 'Fluke' story. It was fun to throw together, I went off the words "operation" "success" and "sleek" -- what kind of operation would make something sleek? I pictured a dolphin for whatever reason and just decided to run (swim?) with it...

  8. "When it works, it's magical" -- that's the stuff. And when it doesn't, we need to shrug off the frustration and self-doubt and send it back to lurk in the corner where it belongs. I enjoyed your tunes and your tale, Chris!

    1. Hi Milo!

      I agree -- although it sometimes feels like that frustration and self-doubt are covered in superglue. Shaking it off sometimes requires a crowbar. ;)

      Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words!


Don't be shy -- feel free to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts.