Improv & Accompaniment
Improv & Accompaniment

Roll the Dice

Music is a language, and languages have structure, pattern, and expression. 

Creating conversation by chance. Using the dice as a reference point, either as a bass note, a chordal suggestion, a scale or Key framework, or even a skeleton melody line, we can learn to move through the frequencies with ease, expression, and intrigue.

Keys, in Music, hold a list of ingredients and a set of instructions.

The ingredients are the notes, and the instructions are how those notes are put together. Sometimes the same set of ingredients can produce different dishes, depending on how they are combined, cooked, not cooked, or prepared. Music is the same. 

Keys, like recipes, have instructions on how to blend those ingredient notes, in certain orders, with timing and space in between steps.

To understand better how to use the dice to create, explore, challenge and develop your skillsets, and use them to inspire your conversation, please reach out.

Intervals: The Spaces In Between

Understanding intervals is the key to being able to follow, and more or less complete another's melodic thought

Find some stairs and get someone to read this to you while you follow the, er.. steps.
Stand at the stairs, starting on the floor/base (not on a step yet), state (aloud) “A”.
Take a step. State “B”
Take a step. “C”
Take a step. “D”
E, F, G, and arrive at A.
Mark it visibly somehow.
Turn around. 
State “A”
Take a step down, state G
Another step down, state F
E, D, C, B, and A (you’re now on the floor where you started)

Now, repeat, but start on C
Go from C to D.
Feel like you’ve gone very far? Feel like maybe you should either go further or step back down? That SECOND step is useful but not a great place to pause for very long – can you feel your body’s inclination to move beyond from the second step?
Step back to the floor. You’re on C
The floor is your FIRST, and you should already be standing on it.
It’s where you started, and where you will end, one way or another.
It’s where your feet begin-where they are ROOTed. It’s the TONIC.
From the FIRST, the floor, the ROOT, skip the next step (the SECOND step), and land your feet on the THIRD step.
What letter should you state for this step? ………
If you said E, this is making sense. If not, here’s one more chance to sort it…
Go back to the floor, the FIRST, where your feet are ROOTed, and begin again.
  • This time, envision the C as where you stand, see the D up a step, on the SECOND step.
  • See the E up another step, on the THIRD step.
  • See the F and G? Legs long enough to reach that FIFTH step, or is the FOURTH more comfortable? You choose, but if you can stretch (to) the FIFTH, you’ll feel as though you’ve accomplished quite a distance, and a good place to be for a few moments. If you prefer the fourth, you’ll also feel a sense of arrival and being, but see if you have an inclination to keep ascending, or maybe it’s a good step, that FOURTH, to sit down and rest and ponder. Maybe, seated on the FOURTH, your feet can comfortably reach the THIRD and SECOND step. Maybe you can stretch your legs and reach the floor, the FIRST/ROOT, as you lean back, look up at the ceiling a moment, and just let your thoughts wander.
It’s most excellent if you have only 7 stairs because of the sense of completion when you reach the next level, however with a longer set of stairs, just give yourself a good visual to represent arrival on that 8th surface, or completion point.
Go to that EIGHTH, that completion/landing point.
Turn around, it’s time to descend.
Your goal now is to return to where you began, but maybe don’t do it step by step, that’s rather predictable.
  • Take a single step down; you’re on the SEVENTH step from the floor now, and well, you can hang out there for a moment if you want, while you decide whether you’re going to start down a step at a time, two, three, or not symmetrical.

Let’s say you decide you want to take this staircase back down, two steps at a time, skipping a step each time..

Go back to the top, to the EIGHTH, and turn around to begin your descent again. This time, take the stairs down, two steps at a time.

  • State C at the top, what letter do you land on if you step down by two, skipping a step between the top and where you land?  Yep. “A”
  • Step down again, skipping a step. What letter do you land on this time? F
Ok, so now you’re at a pausing point, a fifth step from the top (a FIFTH down from the ROOT – the top root in the case of a single octave of steps). It’s a good place to be, but it has a sense of decision to it, doesn’t it? You could just sit down right there and take a break, call it good until you’re ready to jump the rest of the flight back to the floor (returning to the ROOT)… but eventually, you’re going to have to leave that spot. It might be after everyone goes home, and the song ends, but eventually you’ll have to finish your descent, though enough time could pass before you do, whatever ideas you had in your head as you were originally going down the steps, have faded, have been released or let just be.
SO…. Here you are on that FIFTH step from the top, where that top was C, and now you’re on F. 
Let’s say you really actually need to get on with it and return to the floor where you began so you can get some lunch. Fine. You have some choices: you can step down the rest of the way, one step at a time. You can keep the “skipping a step between” pattern going, but your symmetry will be gone… You won’t end up on the floor where you began, you’ll end up on the SECOND step, which also happens to be the SEVENTH step below, 7th from the top. 

You can land on that last step from the bottom, that SEVENTH from the top, it’s a D, by the way. But you can’t stay there. You’ll have to take a single step down to finish off and return to where you began. It’s up to you. You could also go from the F to the E, the FIFTH below the (top) ROOT, then skip to the C to get back home. Which fits your mood, which seems more like what you want to do? Lot’s of options – all work, but some are more comfortable than others, depending on previous choices. Comfort is harmony. 

Comfort is harmony, but comfort is subjective. Sometimes, stretching is comfortable. Sometimes we have to have a solid plan to be comfortable, but sometimes we can be comfortable with indecision, spontaneity, moments of uncertainty (tension). In fact, existence without tension is incredibly bleh.

  • Be it adventure, learning, love, or play – tension, in the form of what might happen next, challenge, uncertainty, or anticipation, TENSION is absolutely crucial to not dying of boredom (and effectively communicating reality).

Feel the steps, the spaces in between, as you move up/down/around the stairs. Feel your body’s inclinations, hesitations, preferences. 


Get someone to play a recorder, whistle, or something to match the note you are stating as you move. Hear the tone with the letter said aloud, with the body on the step, taking in the entire set of stairs among which you have to move.

Let it sink in.
Here’s a game to solidify your understanding
 Get someone to play a C on an instrument (or hum it). Now ask them to pick another note and NOT tell you what it is. Move yourself to the step that matches the note they played. See if you were correct. 
Play again.
When this gets boring, change the Key. Pick a new scale. 
Start on D
And don’t say F when you land on that THIRD step up from the ROOT – it’s F#. 
Get it?