I was messing arrounnd with my friends and a question arose: what type / genre of music and why is the most complex to interpete / improvize. We take in account the complexity of the compositions, rather contemporary music than classical. Personnaly to me it is Jazz. What do you think?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Todd Wilcox, guidot, Richard, Dom Mar 14 '18 at 18:07

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    This question is likely to be closed as the answers will be primarily opinion-based. That said, I'm not sure how fruitful it is to ask such questions comparing different genres (though most of us have probably been there). It is difficult to improvise well in any genre, regardless of the measure of complexity (assuming that you can even apply a single measure of complexity across genres). – David Bowling Mar 14 '18 at 13:49
  • If you're also talking about 'difficulty', I think that's something very different to complexity - sometimes something very simple and repetitive can be the hardest thing to play well! – topo morto Mar 14 '18 at 14:26
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    Movie soundtracks. They are often a pastiche of so many styles, instruments, theoretical basis, and production techniques that you never know what's going to happen. – Todd Wilcox Mar 14 '18 at 14:32
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    Ask a first-year college student and they'll say Bach is easy, and Babbitt is complex. Ask that question to a college professor, and they'll swear that Babbitt is the easy stuff, and Bach is what's really complex. – Richard Mar 14 '18 at 18:03

Maybe the 'New Complexity' school. Look up Brian Ferneyhough's work. Not sure you're going to be doing a lot of improvising in this style though. Except, possibly, by mistake :-)


Of course, this question entirely depends on how you define 'complexity'. Even taking that into account, I think it's fair to say that humans tend to like a certain level of complexity in art (to keep things interesting), but not too much (otherwise it makes things overwhelming).

What you therefore tend to find (and I'm sure there are many exceptions) is that most genres are complex in some aspects, but simple in others. Classical might be considered one of the most adventurous genres in terms of harmony, for example, and is also somewhat adventurous timbrally, tending to make use of a wide range of instruments and types of ensemble. On the other hand, rock and pop music is arguably even more adventurous timbrally, and also ventures into complex rhythmic feels that Classical music doesn't - but also tends to have much less harmonic variation. Jazz music is also rhythmically complex, and is harmonically complex too - but timbrally, it's one of the least exploratory genres out there (at least in terms of instrument choice - of course there is an emphasis on producing different timbres with playing technique) and of course many jazz works are for small ensembles.

From the point of view of the individual performer, I think there probably is a case for jazz being one of the more complex genres to play - there's a lot of work to do with harmony, rhythm, timbre, and often all this needs to be done at speed. But that logic doesn't necessarily extend to making jazz the most complex genre of music.


Black MIDI must be a strong contender.

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