Composition in real time, during performance

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48
votes
17answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
23k 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
2k 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
4answers
495 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 ...
15
votes
10answers
873 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
4answers
755 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
502 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
1k 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
748 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
488 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
550 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
248 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
5answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
358 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
684 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
5answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
157 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
401 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
504 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
147 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, ...
7
votes
5answers
441 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. ...
6
votes
5answers
2k 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
3answers
166 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
66 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
611 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
3answers
207 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
686 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
2answers
348 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
1k 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
131 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
182 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
120 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
100 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
66 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
1answer
602 views

Joik - traditional Sami songs from northern Sweden and Finland

I have some questions about the traditional Sami singing, Joiken, which is practiced in the northern parts of Sweden, Finland and Norway. I learned that you don't joik about something, but you joik ...
4
votes
2answers
77 views

How does one create their own finger-style guitar music?

I understand that fingerstyle guitar is something that is very opinion based (some artists love to accentuate the bass line of the song, while others prefer to highlight the melody) How does one go ...
4
votes
3answers
77 views

What improvisational techniques were employed by Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker that defined bebop?

I'm looking specifically for the principles of improvisation as demonstrated by Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, the fathers of bebop. I realize my opinion may be controversial but I see Dizzy ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

Moving away from basic improvisation - electric guitar

I'm not sure where to go and what to do when it comes to improvising. I know a fair amount of scales and guitar techniques and yet my improvisations all sound very...'pentatonic'. That is a very ...
4
votes
1answer
481 views

How can I improve my fingering on the saxophone in the high notes and overtones?

I have a couple of months working on my improvisation and I'm having some issues with fast passages on the saxophone's higher notes and overtones (starting from D with the left hand palm). I'm ...
4
votes
1answer
49 views

What are the principles for improvising over an ostinato?

An ostinato or repeating riff is a basis of improvisation for everything from Elizatbethan music (Grounde) to classical music (basso ostinato) to jazz and rock. It's quite different from improvising ...
4
votes
1answer
53 views

Does Phish base their improvisational style off of any predetermined techniques?

I have heard of the phrase "The Circle Game" used in reference to Phish and their style of improvisation and extended jams. How does this work, and is it evident in their live performance?
4
votes
2answers
697 views

Software for practicing the reading of jazz chord changes?

There are now a lot of good programs out for sight-reading, simple chord progression recognition, and for jazz, even some backing track creators. But is there a program that generates chord changes ...
4
votes
1answer
49 views

What is the approach taken by Bill Frisell to improvisation in jazz music?

How do Bill Frisell and his mentor Jim Hall approach improvisation? In The Guitar Artistry of Bill Frisell, Frisell is very emphatic that he improvises from the melody, not from the chord changes, as ...
3
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
400 views

what are the “reference” books about improvisation and specifically guitar?

I would like to explore the world of improvisation, but I am a little lost. I know the basics about theory, I have notion of intervals, scales and chords, but I am willing to develop myself with ear ...
3
votes
2answers
557 views

Steve Gaines and Ed King… Love their playing, have a hard time emulating it…

Another question that's been puzzling me for a while. I love Steve Gaines playing but I find it impossible to improvise in his style, especially the style he plays in I Know A Little. I also love ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Approach to learning arpeggios for chord-tone soloing

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 ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Bass-guitar online exercises for not-beginner

I'm an intermediate bass guitarist, and I want to improve my left arm fingers work, and improvisation during bass solo. I think I should learn not only by simply remember some tabs by famous bass ...