The Tarot of Shop
Improvisation winging it, conscious response

When a musician improvises, yes, they make it up as they go along -- but there are a few things that must be in place in order that they do it well. First, they must have Chops -- the ability to get around on their instrument. Second, they must have some kind of Theory, some knowledge or sense of what’s going on around them. Third, they must have Listening: whether soloing or accompanying, the success of one’s improvisation depends greatly on one’s ability to hear -- and thus respond -- to the other players on the stand. Successful improvisation requires the attention to be divided several ways. One must remain relaxed in body and attentive and open in mind, while fluidly maintaining a balance that reflects both one’s personal feelings and the overall feeling and intent of the music at hand.

The Improvisation Card refers to winging it. It points to a time when things are not going as planned, or to a time when there are no plans; we are required to simply take it as it comes and do our best. Successfully navigating such a time involves more than just single-mindedly plowing through it, focusing only on what we want; we must stay attuned to subtle changes tipping the balance all around us. We can remain intent on a desirable end while allowing that end to manifest in unexpected ways; relaxation and focus together are key.

Life as a whole can certainly be seen as one long improvisation. There are times, though, when improvisation is inappropriate, when ends are best served by closely following directions. Sometimes what looks like improvisation is really a knee-jerk reaction to authority, masquerading as empowerment; improvising can also function as a cover for laziness or lack of discipline.

To divine the meaning of this card in a casting, consider the Solfege Die it was drawn above or under.

Click here to learn more about the Compositional Cards as a whole.