It is not that hard to improvise tunes on instruments. But the thing I am struggling is a way to improvise vocal tunes. Do you just hum? How do you improvise vocal tunes?

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    It's not that hard to plink around on a scale, but there is a lot more to improvising tunes than plinking around on scales. For vocal improvisation, see scat singing. – David Bowling Mar 22 at 2:19
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    @DavidBowling - if people only knew what 'scat' is... – Tim Mar 22 at 10:49
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    Check out Booby McFerrin, probably one of the greatest contemporary vocal improvisers. He uses many different "sounds" and techniques - you might find him inspiring. – Jarek.D Mar 22 at 15:54

I personally improvise vocal tunes by picking a starting key, possibly a time signature, and possibly a genre, musical style, or piece type, then singing or humming within the constraints I have picked (e.g. I can improvise a ragtime tune in F major, but I pretty much always omit/forget the repeats customary to the genre in the process). My ability to stay within the constraints depends on how much similar music I have listened to in the past and how well I can draw features from them (e.g. ragtime's syncopation patterns, use of common practice period harmony, and love of 4-bar phrases). If I don't pick a genre/style/type, I find that I generally improvise relatively structure-free classical music.

I can also improvise extensions of and solos on top of existing pieces of music I already know. When improvising those, I typically start by singing the original piece of music, then diverging at a crucial point (e.g. after singing one loop of a video game theme). Sometimes, I purposefully sneak in a lick/riff from a source other than the piece I've based my improvisation on (e.g. while improvising on the Underwater theme from Super Mario Bros., I sing a portion of Saint-Saens's "Danse Macabre" that's modified to fit the existing style).

Regardless of what I base my improvisation on, I often repeat a motif I just sang/hummed, sometimes with modification (e.g. C-G-C-E, then C-G-C-E♭, then C-G-C-D, then B-G-B-D).

This improvisation process is affected by my absolute pitch, which allows me to consciously select a key in the first place. Before I developed absolute pitch, I believe I just picked a note and started singing.


If you find the notes to improvise on your instrument you won’t have problems to improvise with your own voice but you don’t know how to express the fitting notes?

lalalais more used in traditional folk tunes and old fashioned entertaining songs.

Hm or mm and oh or ouh are often used in background singing of gospel songs and pop songs.

Jazz vocal impros are traditional underlined by shabba dooby dap dooah and similar syllabls like dabaraba and dip dibip sabba sip etc. that you probably will know, there are no rules and no limits. e.g. Scat singing:

* Ella Fitzgerald is generally considered one of the greatest scat singers in jazz history.[1] In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. In scat singing, the singer improvises melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium.*



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