Questions tagged [improvisation]

For question about spontaneous composing in real time, typically during performance.

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Composing romantic pieces

I am a fan of the organist Wolfgang Seifen. Recently, he played a piece which fascinated me: An arabesque in the style of German romanticism. (Hear it) Being myself interested in improvisation, I did ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Is Gould playing extra notes in Bach's Toccata in C Minor, and if so, why?

In Glenn Gould's recording of Bach's Toccata in C Minor, it sounds like he modifies the melody in the the right hand to add two extra notes You can hear it here. Is this just a Gould improvisation, ...
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5 answers
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To add chords to a song, is playing the chord that carries the melody equivalent to playing the melodic note as note 1, 3 or 5 of the chord?

When I was learning how to play songs on piano by ear, I didn't know how to add chords to a song melody. What I found on videos and on the Web was that you select a chord that carries the melodic ...
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5 votes
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What applications did distant modulations typically have in the 18th century?

Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, in his treatise on thoroughbass (p. 60 of this edition), gives a neat little table of modulations from C Major into many other keys. Some of these keys, such as B Major, ...
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Is it practical to be able to quickly jump to another octave in another position while still remaining in key, without having to do much thought?

This question is going to seem weird, so I will do my best to describe the problem. Are musicians able to jump to any arbitrary note without giving it much thought and not go out of key? Assume for ...
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2 answers
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When realizing a basso continuo, should the realization avoid consecutive fifths and octaves with the written parts?

Many continuo manuals (both historical sources and modern treatises) are careful to point out that a continuo realization should be contrapuntally correct, i.e., one ought to avoid parallel fifths and ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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What to do with my left hand when jamming with other musicians?

So I'm an intermediate-ish keyboard player who's been playing very irregularly for the past three years, all self taught. I have recently started taking it more seriously and found a group of people I ...
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24 votes
5 answers
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What does one need to know to learn to improvise with other musicians?

I came across the following video on YouTube in which two random people play the same piano together and to me it sounds really amazing. It's something that I couldn't do myself if someone started ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Who was the first to teach jazz improvisation with an approach that matches scales to chords?

I'm reading George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept right now, and I'm trying to better understand its place (and his) in the history of jazz theory. Was he the first to posit this improvisational ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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How do I learn to improvise outside of the jazz realm?

I'm a classically trained pianist and I've spent a lot of time in the last year or two really learning the blues. I've worked through some of my favorite pieces and it's safe to say I can now rip a 12 ...
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To what extent is music mentally internalized with respect to the original key it was learned in?

This question was prompted by two phenomena I've encountered as a 24yo self-taught jazz musician of 2 years who is committed to playing entirely by ear. A large fraction of people, myself included, ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Usage of Melodic Minor instead of Harmonic Minor on Secondary Dominant

Recently I watched this video which discusses secondary dominants and specifically for the case of A II - V - I in the key of C. They play a secondary dominant for the II chord, so they are playing an ...
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4 votes
3 answers
167 views

How to play outside over a major 7 chord?

What are some (fusion-like) options to temporarily play outside over a major 7 chord? E.g. if I improvise over Am7 - Fmaj7 in A aeolian, what are some options to escape F lydian or such and sound ...
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4 votes
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How do I learn jazz on piano? [duplicate]

I am very interested in learning piano but more specifically jazz. I really like the way people can just improvise. I know that I would not be easy but I would like to know what the best book or ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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Improvising with modes and over "advanced" chords

Say I'm playing along to a jam track in C major. From my understanding, this means that C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian etc. would work. My question is: How do I bring out the flavor/characteristic of ...
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Is there a miniature handheld/lap acoustic piano? (not electronic) [closed]

So as I understand it a piano works by the keys pulling strings that make hammers ring bells based on how hard you hit them. I would guess that would be quite a sophisticated instrument. I myself have ...
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How to identify notes in a key that sound better while improvising?

I learned all the chords and their inversions. I'm pretty slow with inversions yet but I'm trying as hard as I can! Now I started to improvise with my right hand a little bit (omg this is so fun!). So ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Improvising: can't play what I hear (internally)

When I play jazz/pop, I struggle to get the musical thoughts I "hear" in my head out onto my instrument. I can tell that what I've played isn't what I wanted to play, but I don't know how to ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Improvising Chord Progressions

Usually when playing along with jazz standards we check out the changes before we start, the changes define the song. I was wondering if it is possible to not have a predetermined set of changes ...
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5 votes
1 answer
215 views

What is the full form of cont. RH solo and its meaning?

Sorry for my naivety, this is my first time posting here. Does cont. stand for contrary motion for the right hand wrt to the left hand?? I'm playing a song and there's this improvisation for an ...
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Modes — C Lydian feels like G Ionian [duplicate]

I've been studying modes recently and since I have a piano, tried to experiment with them by improvising simple tunes. My problem is that as soon as I use something else that Ionian, my perception of ...
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2 votes
11 answers
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How do you develop the ability to express yourself via your instrument (e.g. guitar for my case) [duplicate]

I understand this question may be very broad and the answer may be very complex or allusive in nature. I hope I can get a little guidance from true musicians like you. Last night I watched Ralph ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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How to find scales to improvise with for "How Insensitive" by Jobim

I am pretty new to improvisation. So far I have improvised over a 2 5 1 change using the diatonic 7th chords and the underlying scale tones that fit in with that chord. I am playing on a guitar. As a ...
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10 votes
5 answers
1k views

How to break out of playing scales up and down when improvising

I play piano, and when I am playing a gospel or a blues song, I always improvise with my right hand. I have been practicing major scales and pentatonic scales for a while now, and when I play, i ...
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4 votes
3 answers
256 views

what do IV or a I or a III with a 3 or 5 above it mean?

I am a professional organist who has been self -teaching improvisation from an organ improvisation textbook by Marcel Dupre, titled "Complete Course in Organ Improvisation, volume 1." At ...
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3 votes
5 answers
330 views

Songwriting and improvisation HowTos

Are there any actual rules of how to write music? I mean there're guides everywhere in the Internet like "so you have scale, shapes of scale, chord progression over scale - let's go, do whatever ...
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2 answers
123 views

How would you finger this arpeggio on guitar?

What would be your approach for right-hand-fingering this arpeggio pattern with classical guitar or fingerstyle technique (no pick)? I've tried out several approaches, being this one the most ...
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7 answers
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Which minor scale/mode do you use to harmonize the chords, when improvising in minor key?

When improvising in minor key (let's say classical harmony, non-modal), I guess the minor melodic scales (asc. and desc.) are used to play, well, the melody (hence the name melodic?). Or is the ...
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3 answers
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Which instrument allows for more natural improvisation of melodies? [closed]

For example, when there is a song playing, it is relatively easy to hum or whistle an improvised melody over it, while on a piano you would have to know which keys to press. A kazoo kinda allows the ...
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7 votes
10 answers
2k views

I can't create even a guitar lick when playing over a backing track

I am a guitar student. I have this problem trying to play over backing track. For example, when playing over a backing track, I will play the 4 notes of a preferred scale on first and second strings, ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Sax practice routine for jazz

Hi I've been playing tenor for around 6m now, former pianist to semi-pro standard so I have a strong ear and a decent idea of what I want from my sound. My current practice routine consists of: Long ...
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9 votes
7 answers
574 views

How can you listen and judge where you are in the music whilst improvising?

When improvising over a chord progression, I have a hard time knowing where I'm at. I'm thinking about what I am trying to play and not listening to what going on in the background. I know this comes ...
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2 answers
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Triad improvisation, Key centers

Below is a paragraph that attempts to explain what happens when non-diatonic tones are introduced into a melody. I'm copying it word for word: While the key signature does establish the rules we must ...
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2 answers
161 views

How do i hold a steady rhythm while singing a song in my head?

I'm learning to improvise and have been assigned the following task. [The highlighted text shows the part of the task I'm having difficulties with.] My normal approach to achieving a steady chord ...
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7 votes
5 answers
803 views

How to think of chord extensions when soloing over chords?

Guitar player here. I have been learning about chord extensions and how they can be used to color to a basic progression or when playing a solo. However as I was doing research on this it seems that ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is there a particular reason why the progression I - II4/2 - V6/5 - I was such a popular opening progression for Baroque keyboard preludes?

I'm currently reading John Mortensen's wonderful book on keyboard improvisation. (See this link here.) In the chapter on figuration preludes he states that the progression I - II4/2 - V6/5 - I was a ...
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2 votes
4 answers
229 views

How to choose scales for improvisation based on chords used in a progression?

When playing a tune that has both, minor and major chords, what scale would be safe to use for soloing? It seems that a Minor Pentatonic would work for the minor chords, but not that well for the ...
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0 votes
1 answer
473 views

B major to D major modulation ideas

I am new into jazz and I need some advice. I have a simple chord progression (triads) B major to D major. I want to write a nice "solo" over it. I need some harmonic help in order to play some ...
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4 votes
4 answers
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Advice regarding utilising a scale while improvising solos or writing a song in general

I have been playing guitar for about two years. I have never been formally trained in music and all my knowledge is self taught. I know a little about improvising but I would classify myself as a ...
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21 votes
8 answers
4k views

Jazz improvisation: what's going through your mind [closed]

I have been trying to improvise on bebop standards (on guitar) for almost 20 years now, and it still feels completely out of reach. Why is it so hard for me? Well, a typical standard has about 24 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
638 views

What's the difference between an expressive embellishment and a mistake?

As a trained musician, I think I have a reasonable ability to assess the skills of other musicians. Sometimes, I will watch a video of a live performance and see (in, say, an improvised solo or vocal ...
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22 votes
10 answers
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Making Sense of Blues Soloing; differentiating major/minor pentatonics

Quarantine has allowed ample time for musical exploration. I'm a classically trained pianist studying music in college, and I'm using this extra time to be immersed in and learn how to play the blues. ...
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13 votes
6 answers
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Lead guitar improvisation strategies for young intermediate guitarists

One of my 15 year old students is progressing quite nicely in her ability, including playing live and playing learned guitar parts including lead lines. She reads music and can play many classical and ...
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0 votes
1 answer
147 views

How to improve finger style guitar playing

I am a competent, but not amazing, guitar player who is very comfortable with the usual chords as well as basic fingerpicking patterns. I would like to take it to the next level and be able to ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Improvising in two pulses/tempos at once

In this documentary, Brad Mehldau states this about his trio with Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier: It’s pretty specific what I’m doing, I think, especially with the trio. We have the regular pulse ...
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2 answers
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Common scale tones when transiioning to a new chord

Yesterday I was practicing scales variation over a jazz progression, in particular Am - G#°7 - Gm7 - C7sus4 Using respectively 1)A melodic minor 2)G# whole-half 3)G dorian 4)C mixolydian I ...
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0 votes
4 answers
197 views

Do I have to learn all chords tones? [closed]

I came across chord tones few days ago. I knew and learned the basic shapes (i. e. Am) all over the fretboard. My question is do I have to learn for all A to G# major and minor triads like I done ...
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1 vote
2 answers
195 views

Fifth-Up Progression

If you have a song that is a Fifth-Up Progression like Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe where there is a chord progression of c g d a e. Why is it that you can use em for soloing and what other modulation and ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Blue Sky The Allman Brothers Band vs Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb theory

When I break down these two songs they are very very different. First blue sky by the allman brothers there is a chord progression of e b a e with choirs b a e a. This song is in the key of e. ...
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-3 votes
6 answers
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Music theory: scale/chord relationships and filler notes

In music theory they teach you there are scales are there are chords, and I am having a hard time really solidifying their relationship(s). What I am getting confused with is the chord progression/...
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