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46

Do you transcribe other players' solos? I find this helps me a lot, especially when I transcribe non-guitarists' solos. The clich├ęs and idioms on other instruments are simply different than they are on guitar, so that can help to see melody from a different perspective. Trumpets and saxophones, in particular, sit in a similar range to the guitar but have ...


19

I think this is a common problem with guitarists, we all at some point or other run across this. Some of the things I have have learned to push past this are as follows. String skipping String skipping is a good way to mix up your scale runs, its a good idea to find a pattern you like the sound of and try moving it around, applying this to arpeggios is ...


19

Learning improvisation is a long trip. Most people start with one of two ways: going by ear, just play something that fits. Try until you think it's good. going by chords. Learn what tones fits the chords in the chart. Try until you think it's good. Soon you notice that it's not either one way or the other, it's a combination of both. Good improvisers ...


18

Great Question, Edgar! I'm guessing if you've played some of the Real Book and such that you've heard of Jamey Aebersold. If not, you definitely need to check him out and volumes 1, 2, 3, and 54 are very common for beginners. However, if you've exhausted the Jamey Aebersold path and are still unsure of where to go, my best advice is to listen to Jazz ...


15

If you have to think about what you're going to play, then you've already missed the moment in the tune to play it. Thinking and playing need to happen simultaneously, they need to be the same thing. I may think about a solo in some larger sense, like where I want to go through a chord progression or how my melody interplays with a vocal line, but I don't ...


15

Learning licks and solos by other musicians can be helpful in this respect. Obviously you'll want to develop your own voice, but no musician exists in a vacuum and it's definitely helpful to learn and analyze (if even unconsciously) the kinds of things musicians you admire have played. Depending on your style and the direction you want to go, it may be ...


14

I started by learning to recognize intervals with some ear-training software. This sort of practice is quite frustrating at first and you'll make lots of mistakes. The error rate goes down quite gradually, but you do get better over time. It's best to do it a few minutes a day, and don't ramp up the difficulty too quickly. Singing or humming each interval ...


12

Playing As a supporting melody instrument, you should support the melody (without playing it). This means playing notes that fit well with the chord progression (as with soloing). As an example, if the rhythm chord progression is G, C, D (bear with me! :) ), then you should play notes that fit with G, C, or D. That means GBD during the G, CEG during ...


11

Start out by learning the characteristic sound of a V-I progression. Play only the guide tones (3rd and 7th) and note how the 7th of the V moves down a half step to become the 3rd of the I. Then do the same for the ii-V, noticing how the 7th of the ii moves down a half step to become the 3rd of the V. Then put them together. There are many possible ...


11

Sheet music is fine for those first few years, but there's nothing worse than an 'experienced' musician with 10 years experience who can't improvise. The quickest and most fun way to learn how to improvise is this: 1) Learn the pentatonic scale. Play it up and down and all around, all day long. 2) Learn some licks that use the pentatonic scale. There are ...


11

You can get a lot of traction in this direction by learning just the intervals (ie. just "relative" pitch). Train yourself to know the sound of a half-step (minor 2nd), a whole-step (major 2nd), minor 3rd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, augmented 4th/diminished 5th, perfect 5th, minor 6th, major 6th, dominant 7th, major 7th, and an octave. If you know what each ...


10

People have different ways of thinking about music, so don't beat yourself up too much. I suspect there are many wonderful musicians who can't play by ear or improvise. However, here's how I would start with the jingle bells problem. I'm assuming a piano here. Try to play Jingle Bells monophonically, in C major using only the white keys. Do it by trial ...


10

C Major is a tempting key on the piano. I would suggest trying to improvise in G Major and F Major. G Major only has 1 sharp, and F Major only has 1 flat. They're pretty easy to improvise over and since you only have 1 black key to worry about it won't be much harder than improvising in C Major. Just stick with those keys for a while, so that you can break ...


9

I gave an answer to a similar question here, but I'll recap the main ideas. Miles Davis famously said (something like) "Play what you hear, not what you know." In other words, when you're soloing, you don't want to be thinking, "Here comes a dominant seventh chord; I'll play a mixolydian mode over it!" There's just no time for that, and it leads to ...


9

The first question would be: What instrument are you playing? As a bassist that's where my answer will be coming from. I have a few ways to change up what I'm improvising: Backing tracks: this is the big one that helped me the most. By getting as many different tracks as possible to play along with I saw a dramatic improvement. If you have computer ...


9

Start playing with guitarists. They often prefer E, A and D. This means you move from purely white keys to white and black. In each there are patterns that are similar, but not exactly the same. Learn the scales that go with new keys - they are the basic notes on the menu for each new key. Often, particular bits of tunes work better to play in other keys ...


8

Some of the music was written quickly in a kind of shorthand. If you as a harpsichordist were expected to write a new piece for flute and harpsichord to be performed tonight, you would probably just write a lead sheet for the harpsichord part and wing it from that. The Baroque equivalent is "figured bass": just the bass notes with numbers indicating the ...


8

After reading your comment to @johnnysim's answer, I think what you really need is ear training and singing along your practice; pick a note and try to guess the sound of another note in the same scale before actually playing it. It takes a lot of training but you'll eventually be able to play any melody you have in mind.


8

You should focus on chord tones and half-step resolutions. Let's assume the key of C. The 7th chords in this key: Cmaj7: C E G B Dmin7: D F A C Emin7: E G B D Fmaj7: F A C E G7: G B D F Amin7: A C E G Bmin7b5: B D F A Let's use a classic jazz example, the iimin7 | V7 | Imaj7. In C, this would be Dmin7 | G7 | Cmaj7. To ...


8

It's just a name: it used to be based on four bars, which probably would comprise one set of chord changes (eg doowop, I vi IV V), but could just as easily be two or eight bars. It's like calling a song's bridge a 'middle eight', even though the number of bars may be different. The Beatles always called their bridges 'middle eights'.


8

A walking bass line can in principle contain arbitrary chromatic runs, but obviously it's not a good idea to do that all the time. Often it's best to keep mostly to the chord notes and add some extra melodic spice just when it makes sense for supporting the harmonic movement. Other times, there may be a particular melodic line consisting almost entirely of ...


8

The point of a bass line is to express the melody and harmony of a song. This means that you should play the notes that make up the chord as well as the notes of the melody. I know that sometimes this is hard, because a chord has (usually) a minimum of 4 notes and the melody can have as many and even more, but you need to find the most important ones. So, ...


7

Other ideas that might help: For all of the different types of chords that you know how to play, try out each of the twelve possible harmonic intervals that you can play above the root of that chord type, and understand the kind of sensations and emotions that each sound evokes. Once you discover that you love the sounds of particular harmonic intervals ...


7

The two main things you need to practice are theory and ear training. For theory I suggest you start with learning scales, intervals, chords and chord progressions. For ear training you should practice transcribing intervals and simple rhythms first, and eventually chord progressions and complete songs.


7

Unless you attend training with a skilled teacher, I think the best method to build your vocabulary is to listen to tunes played by renowned musicians from various genres, and play along. It's a bit like what you have done already, but actively seek out new or challenging styles. For example, if you are a blues guitarist, get yourself a stack of jazz music, ...


7

It may be less about breaking out of the pentatonics, and more about breaking in to them: breaking them open. When you're playing a run with a minor pentatonic scale, throw a 2 and 6 in to the mix. At first you'll pick the wrong ones some or most of the time. But that will pass. Suddenly you've got Natural Minor, Dorian Minor, and Locrian under your belt. ...


7

While there are a number of reference books about guitar improvisation there is no substitute for experience. Such a reference library might include the following books: Hal Leonard Improvising Lead Guitar Book and CD Mel Bay's Complete Book of Guitar Improvisation (Mb93278) Berklee Press Jazz Improvisation for Guitar Book/CD The Big Book of Jazz Guitar ...


7

From your question, and some of your responses to comments, it sounds like you are relatively proficient playing in all the keys, and in improvising, but you find yourself modulating back towards C over the course of the improvisation, regardless of where you start. Am I interpreting you correctly? If this is indeed the case, then you may want to figure out ...



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