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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 ...


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

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 ...


6

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 ...


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

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

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

It's funny that you tagged this question in 'technique', because that's obviously not your problem. I think your technique is far ahead of your ears. Once you learn advanced techniques, that involve fast playing, it's hard to go back and improvise slowly, note by note. But that's what you need to do in my opinion. Get some ear training software (like this ...


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

"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

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 ...


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

When improvising, it's important imo not to force ideas out. You can keep arpeggiating chords (or hammering them) until you find a nice idea. If you're playing songs, it's not a bad idea to base your improv on the original melody. Whenever I'm "forced" to improvise (because it's my turn to solo or something like that), I really sound boring, and repetitive, ...


3

My experience of improvisation started out in jazz bands, although over the years I've adapted to other styles too (including some church bands). The best technique I found in the early stages was learning a few scales which work well over common chord sequences (previously I was totally unaware that there were any scales besides major and minor!). The ...


3

A bit late to the party but here are a couple things that have helped me: 1) Focus on small 'boxes' of three or four closely positioned notes on the fretboard. Think of them like manageable bite-sized sub-scales. E.g., from C major pentatonic, take: - The C at the third fret of the A string - The D at the fifth fret of the A string - The E at the second ...


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

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

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 ...


3

The Boss RC-30 is a very good looper that has an XLR input for a microphone and stereo/mono input for when you get your electro-acoustic. It is a dual track looper, with some effects, 99 memory slots, up to 3 hours recording. You can also connect this to your computer and save/load your loops. For putting down a phrase and then playing over it etc, I would ...


3

I use a Boss Micro-BR for doing this kind of practice. (At the moment, I just select a random page from a Real Book, record the chords, and then use this backing to sight-read the melody over and practise some improvisation.) The recording quality of the Micro-BR isn't that amazing, but the functionality is. Off the top of my head: 4 track multi-track ...


3

"Fundamental differences" is something that is open to interpretation. Jazz, a great-great-great-great step-grandchild of classical music certainly shares some of the rich musical heritage of European and African traditions which gives it "hybrid vigor." Nevertheless, classical music improvisation delves into many areas that jazz only hints at. Here's ...



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