View Full Version : Improvising using Triads

09-01-2003, 02:56 AM
When improvising over E Minor (Aeolian or Dorian) I frequently find my self playing ideas based on Em and D triads. I usually don't spell them out so rigorously as this example but, I thought the idea and the example of open forms was worth posting. I usually do this with close voice forms as well. The actual improvising part is more random, less structured. So this example is open voice Em and D alternating ascending up the neck.

09-01-2003, 03:28 AM
Here is a permutation of the above.
Even though both of these lines are ascending, you could just as easily descend or vary between ascending and descending. The main thing is to have some structure to 'hang' your improv on.

09-01-2003, 12:46 PM
Nice examples szulc.

I was just listening to 'Blackbird' (Beatles). Open chords / triads just have an incredible open/spacey feel to them. Ok, they are not used for improvisation in this song but it's a great example of how open triads can be used for composition ....


09-01-2003, 02:24 PM
This is really about chord substitution/imposition.
I am imposing the structure of certain chords on the line.

My intent was to illustrate some of the structured ideas I use when improvising over a Em vamp. The first idea is to use Em arpeggios, but this very quickly becomes boring. The second idea is to interlace D arpeggio ideas. Usually this will be done as close voice triads, so I showed the open voice versions. The next idea I might use would be to proceed each Em and D triad with the diatonic chord a fourth below (fifth above, The secondary Dominant approach, sort of). So now we have come from Em to Em D to Am D Bm Em (for E Aeolian) or A D Bm Em (for dorian).
The Secondary dominant approach can be taken in a different direction by using actual Dom7 chords or by using Dim7 1/2 below the root of resolution.

Once again this is just used as a guide to give your lines structure. When improvising I can change the rules in a moments notice (Remind you of our missing rib?), but to germinate cool ideas, I believe this approach is useful.

09-01-2003, 02:27 PM
Here is an example.

09-01-2003, 02:39 PM
When I refer to making up little musical games this is one of the things I am talking about. You are making up some ruleset and then trying to be creative within the confines of that ruleset.
I usually break out of the ruleset or change the rules often but this is a method I use to spur inspiration. I have been only talking about the harmonic and melodic aspects, but the rhythmic aspects are fair game for rulesets also.

If you look at the lines above you will see there are some rigid
rules present.
The general line is ascending, this is a rule I change frequently, but I thought it was a good example.
I am limiting my self to Em and D in the first two example.
The examples are all eighth notes (this is definitely not the way I would actually play this! I was trying to illustrate the harmonic and melodic aspects.)
The triads are spelled out completely before changing to a new one, also subject to change.
The other rule present in the first two examples is only open chord voicings are used.
If you are hard and fast about using only Diatonic triads the secondary dominant concept opens up some new harmonic territory.

09-01-2003, 03:51 PM
I find it interesting that you use these ideas for improv work. It's a completely different approach from mine.

Very cool!:cool:

09-01-2003, 04:05 PM
I am using this as an example of 'how' I do it.
The 'how' part is the hardest part to explain.
I am trying to explain the parts that I can intellectualize or are tractable.
I want to be able to share with other the parts that are tractable.
I also want to stress the fact that I am never rigid about these things in the heat of improvosation, they are just germinal ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
I hope that it can inspire others to try methods like this to kickstart their own creativity.

It is the structure in music that makes it interesting, otherwise it would just be sounds or noise. Organized sounds or noise is music. I am just coming up with some other ways of organizing the sounds to make them (hopefully) more interesting.

I am hoping others can share their tractable methods.

Bongo Boy
09-03-2003, 12:34 AM
I'm trying to play your first example, but playing it at all is not possible for me yet--let alone playing it with some feel.

I'd like very much to hear it--but not MIDI-generated. Would one or more folks be willing to play and record either of the first 2 examples, just so yer ol' pal Bongo can hear what he's shooting for? As always, all levels of artistic interpretation are welcomed.

09-04-2003, 04:53 AM
I am presently away from my computer so I can't send you something until next week I'll try to play some examples of this and post them.

Bongo Boy
09-04-2003, 04:55 AM
I love you. How can you be 'presently away from your computer' and be posting a message?

Just kidding. I understand completely what you mean.

09-04-2003, 12:06 PM
Ok, I am in Nashville where I have a computer but it has no soundcard. I realize that my home is in nashville, but my toys are in Jackson MS where I will be living until next year.
So next week when I get back to jackson (and my toys), I'll post something.