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improvise on (something)

To use an existing creative work, usually a song or other such piece of music, as the basis for creating something new and different. Hey, tell the piano player to improvise on the theme I play in the intro, OK?
See also: improvise, on
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

improvise on something

[for a musician] to create a new piece of music on an existing musical theme. For an encore, the organist improvised on "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She chose to improvise on an old folk theme.
See also: improvise, on
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Specifically, the Kodaly approach helped students build their auditory memory through vocal exercises that in turn was drawn upon to improvise. The Orff approach allowed students to learn musical patterns to imitate, experiment that in turn, allowed the students to utilize these skills in order to improvise.
I think even from the beginning, what I thought of learning to improvise I thought of jazz musicians, and thought that they must be super good at their scales.
More importantly, Hemingway is also an example of how black and white Americans improvise off each other, either consciously or unconsciously, in a common culture.
If you think about it, people you know who improvise well (and who may be intimidating because of it) generally have had a lot of experience doing it.
Some terms and concepts are poorly-defined or unclear, and the consistent incorrect division of the word "improvise" would cause English teachers to use their red pens.
The Easiest Way to Improvise contains 15 chapters, each containing an original song with exercises designed to facilitate eventual ability to play and improvise on the given selection.
At many of these events, advanced students spontaneously improvise solos or duets based on a theme given by audience members.
The role of the person who is learning to improvise is to make up just one simple part, such as an ostinato or a new melody or a variation to the basic rhythm.
"I love to work with Rachel because she loves to improvise and I love to improvise too, Contactmusic quoted the director as telling BANG Showbiz.
I hope to make this a piece--some kind of archaeo-astrological contact must be made between the sunflower garden and what's above it." As Pendleton talks, sitting on the porch of the barn where Momix rehearses, it's easy to believe he is creating the idea for the dance at that moment, verbally improvising a concept the way some choreographers improvise movement.
Hers will be a hard act to follow, requiring the gifts of vision and leadership, as well as flexibility to meet the future with the grace to improvise as needed.
"In my thesis, I look at how 17th century organists in northern Germany learned to improvise, and compare this method with the approach used today by improvisational musicians I've been in contact with," she said.