In it, he talks about something I heard him discuss in a master class he gave a number of years ago while I was at Berklee-- the idea of playing "through" changes. At the time he was talking about his song "Cubism" that he had written using all 12 keys in order to force himself to improvise through them. The idea intrigued me and I ended up writing the song "Absolute Convolute" using the same idea.
Though any great improviser plays through chord changes, perhaps even coming to this naturally after years of practice and performance, it's rare you hear a professional musician talk about a method or practice technique in order to get there. Kurt clearly thinks about what it is he wants to be able to do and then devises ways to accomplish it. That's a good habit to get into.
Here's the seminar. Below it I have a transcription I made of the first minor Pentatonic example he gives at about 39 seconds into the video:
The transcription of the line at about 39 seconds in:
Notice how he's not jumping around to different positions on the neck each time he announces what Pentatonic he's playing. He just grabs the next available note from the scale and continues from there-- that is playing through changes.
This is not easy to do. It's challenging for any instrument but especially on stringed instruments that deal with positions. The challenge on guitar especially is to not start each key change on the root or move to comfortable positions but to stay relatively close to where you are on the neck and just shift to the next scale. Kurt does this beautifully. You're looking at the result of hours of practice here.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it doable? Definitely.
I think I might be most impressed with his ability to speak while playing this line. Improvising while talking takes practice. Maybe that's my new regimen...
Mads has a nice blog about Kurt's music that addresses this seminar as well. Check it out: themusicofkurtrosenwinkel.
How do you practice this? Unless you're already prodigious at quickly switching between Pentatonic scales, I would suggest breaking things down.
Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo for you to play the scale, then:
1. For guitar, start with one key and every measure move to a different position in order to make sure you're comfortable playing in all of them. On other instruments, make sure you're proficient in playing the Pentatonic scale through the full range of your instrument.
2. Add another key. Every bar, switch to the other key. Example-- Bar 1: C Minor Pentatonic. Bar 2: A Minor Pentatonic. Bar 3: C Minor Pentatonic and so on.
3. Add a third key and continue the method.
4. Try it over a pattern like Kurt has done-- chords going up in Major Seconds -- or chords going up in Major Thirds, Cycle of 4ths etc.
5. The real world challenge! Try it over a song like a blues, "Cherokee", "All the Things You Are" or "Giant Steps".
You can see the possibilities for this are virtually limitless, the idea is to get comfortable wherever you are on your instrument so you can play what you want, when you want. This is always the goal, everything else is just a way to get there.
Here's my song "Absolute Convolute" mentioned above with a chart. There are 12 bars and every bar is in a new key. It starts in the key of B and goes through the cycle of 5ths (B, E, A, D, G, etc.). I've put the key of every bar below each staff and the analysis (at least the way I like to think of it) above the staff in red.
Though you could probably get this together relatively quickly, it's difficult with this much static tonality (just the Major key) to play musically, at least I find it to be. When my group plays this live, I always have a mixture of excitement and dread.
Easy to play, difficult to master. Enjoy.