Welcome!
Just a few a ground rules first...

Promotion, advertising and link building is not permitted.

If you are keen to learn, get to grips with something with the willing help of one of the net's original musician forums
or possess a genuine willingness to contribute knowledge - you've come to the right place!

Register >

- Close -
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 18

Thread: Improvisation

  1. #1
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Jackson MS
    Posts
    2,223

    Improvisation

    Some Ideas About Playing, and the various aspects of it.
    I am curious what others think about this (Big Picture) outline.
    I am also curious what people believe the steps to improve or attain these basic goals are.

    I believe these are the big three aspects of improvisation.

    (Theory)
    Deciding what will work

    (Creativity)
    Hearing lines in your head

    (Technique)
    Executing the lines you heard in your head
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    6,039
    Right... the "deciding what will work" part also could relate to applying licks that you know... and the creativity part might relate to "accidents"... when, by mere accident, you come up with, say, two or three consecutive notes which actually sound nice together, and decide to take that and use it... variate it etc.
    I believe that in improvisation, there often is a certain "accident-factor" involved
    Warm regards
    Eric

  3. #3
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Jackson MS
    Posts
    2,223
    Doesn't the accident usually happen in the Execution part?
    It does for Me!
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Experimentalist Koala's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Behind you...
    Posts
    3,083
    Good question Szulc, I believe the first part of the process is theory, sorta like a safe zone, but theory is then absolutely taken over by creativity many times in long jams ill be playing outta anything that fits into my theorical comprehension(im no encyclopedia), but it works and i play it. Execution seems to be where i have more problems, i am so used to certian scales that i can just hear these great lines in my head, but i wont get em right the first time, ill be off by a note or just wot be fast enough to play it.

  6. #6
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Jackson MS
    Posts
    2,223
    (Theory)
    Deciding what will work

    Ear training is part of this.
    Learning what theoretical Ideas sound like, is a big part.
    Naming and categorizing the ideas so you can easily look them up on the fly and communicate them to other musicians.
    Set theory (what scale can be used to improvise over these chords, Is chord 'A' a subset of scale 'X'?)

    (Creativity)
    Hearing lines in your head

    Applied Ear training. Like transcribing songs this uses the ear training skill extensively.
    I believe this is the part where most of the work is and the part that separates you from everybody else. Training yourself to, first hear lines in your head and second listen to them, is the hard part.
    You don't want YOUR lines to sound like eveybody else's lines.
    You use the theory and your ears to tell what should work.


    (Technique)
    Executing the lines you heard in your head

    This part is the mechanics of how you do it.
    Practicing techniques and scale patterns will help this.
    Using a metronome, playing in tune.
    Vibratto,Bending etc.....
    If your ideas are faster than you can execute them you need to practice with a metronome to get your technique up to the challange of equalling your ideas.

    The intangible part is the 'FEEL' factor.
    Play everything as though you are convinced you cannot play a wrong note or passage.
    Try to 'feel' the music.
    Express your emotion and feelings through the use of note choice, timing, dynamics, vibrattto, bending, rubato, pick attack, tone etc...
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Central Scrutinizer
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Ill
    Posts
    493
    Good points.

    I'd like to toss in what to me is the most important thing:

    Having something to say.

    It seems to me the biggest hangup some have improvising is they have nothing to say.

    Maybe u could sum that up with feeling, emotion, creativity, inspiration etc.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  8. #8
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Jackson MS
    Posts
    2,223
    That is the point I was trying to make about the Middle Part being the Problem Area. Anyone can learn the mechanics of playing.
    Having original cool ideas to play is another story.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  9. #9
    Central Scrutinizer
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Ill
    Posts
    493
    Agreed
    Course all you said could apply to song writing as well, which to me is what improv is: Writing a little song.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    8

    Improv

    A few things to add:

    1) There are no bad notes, just bad choices - Miles
    Music is subjective. If it is beautiful to you, it is.

    2) Improvisation is instant composition - Vai (I think from Zappa)
    Many people forget about everything when they want to improvize. To me improvisation is mental as well as emotional. There are a lot of theory things going on that can take your improv in exciting new areas without too much fuss. For example, do you know the difference between a passing tone, a neighbor group, and an escape tone? ALL of these Non-Chord tone devices I knew nothing about until I started studying theory and composition.

    3) You could think of improvisation in different modes (modes included, see c below)

    a) Melodically - You can think of the melody to the song and improvise off of that, altering it here or there, but letting it guide you to the next idea
    b) Chordally - You can think of just the chord tones themselves of the passage and improvize off of that. Charlie Christian did this all the time.
    c) Scalar - You can use various scales over the chords you are improvizing over, not really focusing on the chord tones but the scales appropriate over those chords. (Good for faster passages).
    b) Rhythmic - You can let a rhythmic figure inspire you to improvize over, oblivious to all harmonic and melodic content.
    d) Freely - whatever and whenever, noises and all.

    Hope I added to instead of detracted from.
    Marq-Paul
    www.marq-paul.com

  11. #11
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Colorado Springs CO
    Posts
    2,163
    You guys forgot about speed as the most essential component of improvisation.






    ...okay, I'm sorry.
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  12. #12
    I love Guitar. UltimaRage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    214
    You can improvise without scales too.
    ~UltimaRage~

  13. #13
    Registered User loveguitar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    177

    Cool

    I think I would say the technical ability of a guitarist
    is very important to improvise. Many have touched on
    emotions, hearing lines in your head, hearing different
    modes etc.

    Absolutely agreed. But if you cannot play them, where's
    the music? I am a beginner, but have experienced it myself that
    I do hear lines of music when I listen to rhythms. But I took
    so long to play these lines, that eventually frustration and
    tiredness took over and I hear nothing when I listen to
    the rhythms.

    But of course I see this as a practice that eventually I will
    be able to improvise better.

  14. #14
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Jackson MS
    Posts
    2,223
    a) Melodically - You can think of the melody to the song and improvise off of that, altering it here or there, but letting it guide you to the next idea
    b) Chordally - You can think of just the chord tones themselves of the passage and improvize off of that. Charlie Christian did this all the time.
    c) Scalar - You can use various scales over the chords you are improvizing over, not really focusing on the chord tones but the scales appropriate over those chords. (Good for faster passages).
    I see all oof these as so closely related that it is difficult to separate them, especially a and c.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    8

    Improv

    Quote:
    I see all oof these as so closely related that it is difficult to separate them, especially a and c.


    __________________
    Question Everything

    Szulc


    Indeed. All music should be somewhat related. The difference between thinking "melodically" and thinking "scalar" in the preceding context is this:

    Melodical improvisation is when you take just the notes of the melody (not necassarily of any particular scale) and alter it slightly. Normally you adjust it just a bit so, though it is still recognizable, it is obviously tampered with. You can add a note or two, mostly passing tones and chromatic neighbors, but you stick to the framework of the the melody and try to keep it intact with a modification here and there. Listen to Louis Armstrong do this on his trumpet with melodies. The melody is basically the same with a little artistic license taken...that's improvising on the melody.

    Scalar improvisation more or less departs completely from the melody and utilizes various scales over various chords. There is no reference to the melody, but passages of whatever fancies the improviser based on these scales. Certainly someone can "melodically" use scales by applying a little form to it, but mostly it consists of running scales and sequences.

    Scalar improv is the most talked about because in most method books, that's all that is mentioned: "You take this chord and find a scale that goes with it, then just make up something." However this limits the improviser by providing too much information at one time, especially if there is more than one scale that will fit over a certain chord. Plus, it fails to mention the other techniques for improvisation.

    All improv techniques overlap, and the experienced improviser will utilize whatever works best or is most appropriate at the time. Silence is music too. Licks, quoting...all are parts of music and thus part of improvising.

    I also agree that technical proficiency is necessary for good improvisation. Certainly anyone can run a scale over a chord on command, but to make it sound 'sweet' is only accomplished by well applied technique, and therefore MUCH practice. Speed...in my opinion...is not as necessary. The techniques of playing the guitar well all come into play in their time. Some times you need to play fast, some times slow, sometimes not at all. Imagine a solo where for 4-8 bars there is nothing but silence? In our day of excess, less is not only more, it is original too!.

    Happy hunting.
    mzeroq.
    Marq-Paul
    www.marq-paul.com

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •