For question about spontaneous composing in real time, typically during performance.

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55
votes
23answers
3k views

Ways to get out of a scalar rut?

I'm a well versed and experienced guitarist. I have a decent sense for rhythm and melody, but I have a VERY hard time with soloing. I know you've heard it all before I'm one of those guys that got ...
32
votes
9answers
2k views

How to start playing by ear/improvising?

Up till now I've been playing music from the sheet, and eventually I've grown frustrated how after 3 years of playing I can't even play Jingle Bells if I'm asked to without figuring it out from a ...
30
votes
10answers
60k views

How to know what notes/chords go together while improvising?

This is 3 questions in one, so it might take a slightly involved answer, or some good links. I'm a very good classical pianist, but I skipped theory entirely in my early days and learned to play well ...
19
votes
4answers
738 views

Where can I get started with my improvisation?

I have been playing the alto saxophone for a while now. I have also improvised from time to time and have some theoretical and practical background on the instrument, harmony, scales, etc. I have ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

Mental approach to improvisation

Improvisation for guitar is a fairly well-covered topic, with good resources to be found within multiple contexts (Web, traditional literature, etc). However, most of what I've read is basically ...
17
votes
7answers
3k views

How to escape the C Major trap when improvising on the piano

I play/practice the piano for some decades and when improvising (Jazz, Romantic, and sometimes even Baroque), I observe a certain magnetism of the C Major key. I'm able to play scales, arpeggios, ...
17
votes
10answers
2k views

How do you avoid falling into the same patterns every time you improvise?

I think every player that tries to improvise gets to a point where he starts playing things out of memory without focusing too much on the ideas in his head. It happens to me all the time. I just hate ...
15
votes
6answers
12k views

How to improvise a walking bass line

When improvising or writing a walking bass line the bass note (usually the root of the chord) is played on the chord change, but how do you choose the other notes for a walking bass line? Is there a ...
15
votes
6answers
606 views

My ear is not very well trained - what can I look for as easy hints when trying to identify a ii-V-I progression in blues music?

I'm looking to learn how to better analyze music I am listening to, and I'm having problems identifying ii-V-I progressions, especially when they're the basis for improvisation. What are some hints or ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I produce any melody on my guitar as effortlessly as I do with my voice?

When I improvise on the guitar, I rely too much in theory and muscle memory. However, I can do creative vocal improvisations. I want to be able to let my inner ear command my guitar playing as well. ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

Breaking out of pentatonic scales for guitar riffs

I've been playing guitar for about 9 years now. From a young age, my teachers focused a lot on pentatonic scales. So that's what I'm defaulting to when improvising, soloing, writing stuff, etc. ...
11
votes
5answers
10k views

Melody improvisation over chords

My question deals with what scale to play over a given chord progression. For example, consider a progression containing I,II,IV,V in C. I.e., the rhythm guitar is playing C, Dmin, F, and G... My ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do jamming musicians “trade fours” (rather than any other number)?

I've run across the idea of "trading fours" when playing in (and listening to) jazz groups; i.e. where two or more musicians take it in turns to play four bar licks or solos. I understand that it can ...
11
votes
4answers
566 views

What to play instead of chords with an informal group?

I typically play guitar with an informal group and we mostly play traditional and old-timey songs. When I am not soloing I usually just play the chord progression of the song. Recently however I ...
11
votes
7answers
10k views

What is a good solo to learn in the Dorian mode?

I understand that Dorian is a commonly used mode in rock. I am starting to play / improvise in the mode and would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how ...
10
votes
3answers
739 views

How to develop soloing vocabulary

Background: My first guitar teacher used to show me small licks or note patterns that had that special quality of arousing interest during a solo improvisation. They were essentially "tools" in my ...
10
votes
4answers
792 views

Does improvisation in the classical idiom differ significantly from jazz and folk improvisation?

How do musicians who actually improvise in classical music, such as Robert Levine, JS Bach, Edgar Meyer, church organists and classical ballet pianists, compose in the moment? Are there any ...
10
votes
4answers
703 views

Theory of improvisation

I am looking for improvisation theory ressources. I mainly focus on free jazz and improvised music but I am also interested in dance, drama and pictural improvisation. I want to know if a ...
10
votes
6answers
308 views

How to close the gap between ideas and capabilities when improvising?

I'm a drumset player. I just finished a B.A. in Percussion Performance, marched 4 years of DCI drum & bugle corps, and am now working on a degree in jazz studies. As I've begun to play more and ...
9
votes
9answers
826 views

Caffeine / Alcohol Before or During Rehearsal

I have been rehearsing an average of once a week most recently. We have a decent stock of songs, but are continually adding new candidates. I find that on the days where I have been drinking coffee, ...
9
votes
3answers
367 views

Should I learn the notes of all the scales

I'm playing guitar and therefore have learnt all the major,minor and harmonic minor patterns. But while improvising I usually forget the right notes of a scale(the problem comes when switching the ...
9
votes
5answers
9k views

What is a good guitar solo to learn in the minor scale?

I am starting to play and improvise in the minor scale, and I would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how other people use it. What are some famous ...
9
votes
2answers
868 views

Finding the “Starting point” when creating a composition or score

This is a fairly simple one, and hopefully not too wide-open to be permitted here: what approaches are available when sitting at a fresh screen or sheet of paper, or at your instrument, to create the ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Guitar solo techniques

I have been playing guitar for a while now and I've decided (after playing with a guy I know and seeing how expressive his solos are) that I need to improve my improvisation. My improvisations are ...
8
votes
5answers
536 views

Comfortable notes in a key

I've been playing guitar for some time, and often when i do improvisation exercises, I hit notes which sound too tense to finish a run/lick/riff on. Kind of like having a sentence which no full stop. ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Incorporating modes in solos

I have been playing and improvising quite happily for many years on a few different instruments but can't seem to get my head around incorporating modes into my day-to-day playing. I am from a blues /...
8
votes
2answers
171 views

What is a good way to train one's mental resources for improvising?

I find improvising to be the most challenging and rewarding part about music. When I first started to improvise I found that the ideas I had were limited to the dexterity of my fingers, but now I am ...
8
votes
2answers
260 views

How much of classical Arabic maqam music is improvised?

I am listening to a piece of music sung in maqam bayat (or bayati). It's Psalm 126, which is 7 verses long, but the piece takes about 10 minutes and sounds very improvisatory. This is similar to ...
7
votes
5answers
169 views

How to give classes on improvisation

I'm giving a 6 times 3 hours workshop on musical improvisation. The participants are 5 to 10 mostly classical musicians, skilled with their instruments, slightly interested in jazz, and all keen on ...
7
votes
4answers
817 views

How to conduct rehearsals in a small band?

We have small band of four people(vocals+guitar, bass, drums and trumpet). It is our hobby, if it matters. I am trumpeter and the most recent(half a year) member of a band. We rehearse every week and ...
7
votes
6answers
10k views

How to learn piano improvisation

I am a self-taught piano player, played for about five years with shorter and longer breaks. I've never had any formal education, don't know chords or music theory. What should I do to learn piano ...
7
votes
3answers
478 views

My Jazz Piano Improv Phrasing Sounds Horrible

I've been working at this for a while. I've listened to a lot of records and I have done some transposing, but my phrasing sounds very amateurish. Are there any overarching rules/principals to how ...
7
votes
2answers
158 views

Do people who don't study modes improvise the same as those who do?

Reading/watching interviews with some noted jazz/rock musicians (e.g., Jimmy Bruno), when asked about modes they will disavow themselves of bothering to study modes because doing so is, to their way ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
6
votes
5answers
5k views

What is a good solo to learn in the major scale?

I am starting to play / improvise in the major scale and would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how other people use it. What are some famous solos in ...
6
votes
2answers
730 views

Basic bass patterns for improvisation on piano

I'm playing the piano a little bit and totally just for fun without any big ambitions. I often improvise, playing some pattern for the left hand which will stay the same (well, the chords obviously ...
6
votes
7answers
304 views

Is it best to think of the notes or Scale degrees related to a tonic?

When playing guitar,especially improvising,is it best to think of the notes a actual lettered notes or Scale degrees related to a tonic ? Since the keys are easily movable , I'm thinking that its ...
5
votes
7answers
3k views

Improvisation on Piano

I've been playing the piano for around 7 years now. I took some lessons when I first started, but other than that I haven't had any lessons. In other words I'm pretty much self-taught. I have a good ...
5
votes
4answers
445 views

Associating chords with scales

In the following video, at 34:30, Joe Pass suggests practicing scales by choosing a high note, playing a chord below that note, then play "the scale" from the root of the chord to the chosen note: ...
5
votes
3answers
517 views

What equipment do I need to Jam to my own recorded chord progression?

I am following the Fretboard Theory book by Desi Serna. And when learning the pentatonic scale I thought it would be good if I could record some chord progression and try to play melodies in the ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How much baroque music was derived from improvisation?

I've heard that much music we think of as "baroque" was actually improvised, and only later set in stone. Is this true? I'm currently playing baroque-style continuo/bass lines in a duo that riffs ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Developing a good practice routine for piano improvisation with a band

I have been playing the piano for 2 years now and I can play some of my favorite pieces through sheet music and a lot of time. I have also been singing in a band for quite some years and want to ...
5
votes
2answers
165 views

Approaches to free improvisation

While most free jazz is surprisingly structured (nothing wrong with that), there is a form of improvisation that is approaching total freedom. I'm thinking of artists like Peter Brötzmann, Paal ...
5
votes
2answers
532 views

What made Mozart unique as an improviser?

Robert Levin states that Mozart improvised and has devised his own form of Mozart-like improvisation. What is known of Mozart's improvisation technique?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How did JS Bach improvise?

Before his compositions were rediscovered JS Bach was not known as a composer--that Bach was CPE Bach--but as one of the foremost improvisers and performers of his time. What is known about JS Bach's ...
5
votes
2answers
275 views

Improvising “sparsely” on piano

I'm having trouble building my solos on piano - starting off calm, and then building it, in order to keep it interesting for longer periods of time. On other instruments (I play saxophone as well) I'd ...
5
votes
2answers
293 views

What improvisation techniques do players like Doc Watson and Tony Rice employ to transcend cliches of bluegrass improvisation?

The method of transposing riffs to fit the chord changes makes all bluegrass solos sound the same. Bluegrass players such as Doc Watson and Tony Rice appear to transcend this cliche. What techniques ...
4
votes
5answers
282 views

Jazz guitar vocabulary

After studying loads of scales and arpeggios, I realized that they're simply frameworks and note options to draw and connect non-sistematic melodic phrases. Now I am looking forward to build a jazz ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

How to improvise over a C#, B, A chord progression?

I'm looking to improvise a piano solo in over a C# verse that has a C#, B, A chorus. I'm unsure of what scale to use for this, or unsure on how to determine why musically some notes work better than ...
4
votes
5answers
4k views

Approach to learning arpeggios for chord-tone soloing (shapes or notes)

I am looking to improve in soloing and improvisation. I have learned the CAGED patterns in diatonic scale and their corresponding pentatonic patterns. I have stuck with them for years, but I've ...