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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 ...


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

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 ...


9

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 ...


9

tl;dr: You can always guess what notes to play by ear and find what notes sound good, but at the end of the day you are playing in a scale and you should be aware of that. There are some guitarists that don't know scale (or music theory for that matter) and they tend to play by ear. They listen to the progression and try to play something over it and ...


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

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, ...


8

As I'm quite easily affected by alcohol and caffeine (being a lightweight and having terrible problems with focusing does that to you), I think I can add some stuff from my own experience here. The main thought to keep in mind is that this is different for each person individually, though. A dose that works for you may very well have an opposite effect for ...


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 ...


7

To practice improvising, practice improvising. Put on a recording that's in a key you want to be able to deal with, and start seeing what you can play against it. It's going to feel awkward at first, and that's OK; remember that when you first learned to improvise in C it wasn't all that easy either. Practice makes better. (I play an instrument which is ...


6

With any solo, you want to tell a story. The licks, riffs and grooves are your words. Writers structure stories as narrative arcs. A narrative arc is usually: Exposition: The introduction the story in which characters are introduced, setting is revealed. Rising Action: A series of events that complicate matters for the protagonist, creating a rise in ...


6

When I'm composing a walking bass line, I think there are a few goals to complete, depending on how well I can play the tune or the progression. Play simple chord tones, maybe 1-3-5-3 or 1-3-5-7 through the tune. Better this than a trainwreck! Play only chord tones, but connect them to create a smooth motion. So for a I-IV progression I might play ...


5

There's a boogie pattern 1-3-5-6-b7-6-5-3- used for 12 bar blues. Walking bass patterns (usually on each beat) use all the notes from the scale of the key you're in,- you can use any order, preferably starting a bar with the root note. Theory says that there's a good chance one or two of the other notes in the bar will fit the chord, even random notes ! But ...


5

In swing setups such (e.g. tenor sax battles), it is not uncommon so see "trades" of varying (typically decreasing) length : trade 16, then trade 8, trade 4 and sometimes even trade 2 then trade 1, each time building up the tension. Things could also end in both musicians improvising simultaneously. Nice example from Robert Altman's Kansas City: ...


5

if you want to play faster than you currently are, you should focus on efficiency. As you play faster and faster, wasted movement becomes more and more detrimental to the final effect. Watch yourself in your mirror, and play the passage slowly. Is there wasted movement ? There almost always is. The fastest guitarist move very efficiently. Minimize ...


5

Mark J. Smith’s video lessons at TalkingBass.net include an excellent introduction to walking bass lines. His technique is to target a chord tone (usually the root) at each chord change, using three kinds of walking movement to make the musical journey between each target note. You can use arpeggios, scales, or chromatic passing tones to make the journey. ...


5

I once wrote a software walking jazz bass line generator that created reasonable bass lines in 4/4 time given a key and a sequence of chords (one chord per measure). Source code is not available but I'll explain the basics of the algorithm here. I know it's not really art and it only represents a gross simplification of the actual practice, but it can give ...


5

With any improv, you want to tell a story. The licks, riffs and grooves are your words. Each phrase you play is a sentence. So a phrase should be no longer than what you take to say a sentence. Where the phrase should resolve to depends on whether it's contributing to rising or falling action (more later.) So the first thing is your voice. You should ...


4

"Trading twos" is definitely a phrase people use. "Trading eights" might be. More generally, you can call it "trading licks". 8 bars is long enough to be thought of as a whole solo. Get any longer than this and you're not really "trading" any more; you're just taking it in turns to solo. When I say "trading", I mean that you base your lick on whatever the ...


4

In western music, there are two fundamental approaches to improvisation that appear consistently in many styles of music: Improvisation based on melodic variation Improvisation based on underlying harmonic changes You may find it a bit easier to get your feet wet with the former. Learn the melody to a tune, and then try some simple variations of it -- ...


4

By law of averages, it's very unlikely that Wolfgang Mozart was unique (this is quite a shocking statement, I realise). There were a lot more working composers of the age who's work hasn't survived, and a great many again who's work is known, but obscure, and not considered part of the classical music cannon. Of these, most will have been following the ...


4

You can establish a theme that you come back to again and again, and then use as a jumping off point for further improvisation. The theme doesn’t have to be long or complicated, and it’s probably better if it’s not. Think of the theme as a chorus, and think of your improvisational stretches as verse. As long and wild as your improvisational stretches may be, ...


4

One of the main reasons that a whole-tone scale works so well to indicate dreaming and rootlessness is that it's a symmetrical structure that divides the octave into equal parts. Multiple notes can therefore work equally well as a "tonic" which kind of means that they're also equally bad at being tonic. A symmetrical structure makes it much easier to avoid ...


4

I think the most important thing you need is to learn how to dive in your guitar's neck without getting lost. Moving around past a certain speed and without watching where your fingers are requires tons of practice. That practice relies in repeating some pattern over and over and over. You can try 1 million solos, practice them, improve and master them and ...


4

Yes, it's crucial that the musicians are listening to each other and responding. Usually there is no preconceived idea or structure. In fact, to have 'an empty mind' is ideal. It will be counter productive to play ready-made riffs or cliche licks, or even to play in a particular key unless this is what is going on in the room. It's likely that the musicians ...


3

A great deal of it is improvised, much in the same sense that Indian Raga is improvised. That is to say, a lot of melodic framework and development is predetermined, but there is a lot of room to work around the predefined bits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_maqam explains this well. Also: This is question is too wide. You should remove the bits ...


3

When do you modulate to C? For example, if you're happily playing along in the key of F and suddenly find yourself in C again, you just modulated up a fifth. Now try doing the same thing in a different key: perhaps try starting in G and modulating to D, reproducing roughly the same emotional effect you did when modulating to C. Now, not only are you playing ...


3

It's not for advertising myself. I'm a professional pianist has also winning compositions, 4 published book about becoming a virtuoso. The first and the most important thing is that what do you know about music? When I ask you this question if your mind tells you some scales or harmonic movements, some kind of chords, mods etc. To me, you don't know it. ...


3

I often hear complaints from pianists learning to improvise that "I don't know what to do with my left hand except arpeggiate the chord" (and variants on this) - especially from people who are playing to a series of guitar chords. I'm not a fan of learning sheet music myself but this is something it can really help with: learn more pieces (pick ones that ...


3

I realize some people will probably not like this answer, but I am going to say it anyway: I am a very strong believer in simplicity for recording short jams. You need to have a method to get a rough draft recording down very quickly without much thought. Therefore, I highly recommend simply starting out with a tape recorder, digital meeting/voice ...



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