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Is There an Easier Way to Improvise a Solo?


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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turkle wrote:
If you want to get fluent at improv, you have to master your instrument across all keys, scales, chords, intervals, digit patterns, etc. There's just no substitute. You have to have them in your ears and fingers.


Correct. It has to be instinctive. The more you have to think about it the less fluent you will be. You have to be able to automatically associate what you hear to the muscular movements and airflow necessary to play what you hear so that you can play it without thinking about it, the same as you speak verbal language without thinking about it.

I suggested an exercise to develop this skill in my post above. Here's another one: Have someone play notes at random on a piano, one at a time. Your challenge is to hear the note without knowing which note it is and play it instantly on your horn your first try. The more you can do that successfully the more developed you'll be fundamentally to learn to improvise proficiently.

People talk about scales and arpeggios and chords and patterns. All of these are important and are fundamental to proficient improvisation. However, learning them and being able to instinctively play them are two different things. Your objective is to be able to instinctively play them as spontaneous expressive statements without reference to their "music theory" names. Learning to instinctively play them is a different and separate skill than learning their names and definitions. What makes improvisation easy at the most fundamental level is the ability to instinctively play desired pitches on your instrument the same as you instinctively speak desired words with your voice.
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BeboppinFool
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:30 am    Post subject: Re: Is There an Easier Way to Improvise a Solo? Reply with quote

SkrubCern wrote:
So far, I've been told a few ways to plav an improvised solo. the first way is to just do it by ear and listen for notes that sound good in the music that you are soloing in. The second way that I've learned is that you have to memorize a bunch of scales and all the chord changes in songs. the final way is that I've been told that there is really no way to teach someone how to improvise and that they have to learn it on their own. But with these methods that I use, none of them seem to be working for me. Am I doing something wrong?

Another thing you can try is to pass your part to somebody who can improvise.

Watch their fingers, listen to what they do, look at the chords they played over, and do this often.

You can also ask them lots of questions. This is what I did early on and it really helped.
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Turkle
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed Kennedy wrote:

3. Take one standard tune each week and play it through the circle of fifths and, as others suggested, embellish the tune.


I like this one. I used to do this years ago. Gotta start working this back into the routine... Starting this evening.

Cheers.
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Bill Ortiz
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turkle is right-blues is the foundation of jazz.
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Hugh Anderson
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Learn the jazz blues scale, though, not the rock one. Work on playing by ear. Songs like So What, not Night in Tunisia. Those come later.
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MrOlds
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s such a large subject. The answers all tend to focus on whatever helped that person. The trick is to discover what helps you.

The question for me comes down to whether you want to win a spelling bee or sing a song. I spent years following the path of learning all the scales and chords and tunes in all the keys. In retrospect I might as well have spent all that time whacking my toes with a hammer.

I’m more of the mind now that singing is the foundation. We sing before we speak complete sentences. We speak complete and sophisticated thoughts before we learn to spell.

And our gateway to speaking is imitation. We start imitating noises that relate to things that mean the most to us. Mommy, daddy, puppy, spaghetti...

So start by singing along with tunes. Learn to sing the melodies. There’s a ton of melodic vocabulary in just the melodies. Then move on to singing improvised melodies. Do that all the time.

Then experiment with singing a melody fragment and finding that fragment on your horn. Then another fragment. Then another... Learn your favorite words and phrases.

Then expand your ears by listening to recorded musicians and learning to sing their solos. Then learn to play the licks that sound good to you after you’ve learned to sing them.

As your inner voice feels more and more like it can sing along with lots of stuff and after you feel like you can find what’s in your head on your horn then spend time investigating the underlying structure. Chords, scales, strategies for constructing a solo.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun. They call it playing music for a reason.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrOlds wrote:
It’s such a large subject. The answers all tend to focus on whatever helped that person. The trick is to discover what helps you.

The question for me comes down to whether you want to win a spelling bee or sing a song. I spent years following the path of learning all the scales and chords and tunes in all the keys. In retrospect I might as well have spent all that time whacking my toes with a hammer.

I’m more of the mind now that singing is the foundation. We sing before we speak complete sentences. We speak complete and sophisticated thoughts before we learn to spell.

And our gateway to speaking is imitation. We start imitating noises that relate to things that mean the most to us. Mommy, daddy, puppy, spaghetti...

So start by singing along with tunes. Learn to sing the melodies. There’s a ton of melodic vocabulary in just the melodies. Then move on to singing improvised melodies. Do that all the time.

Then experiment with singing a melody fragment and finding that fragment on your horn. Then another fragment. Then another... Learn your favorite words and phrases.

Then expand your ears by listening to recorded musicians and learning to sing their solos. Then learn to play the licks that sound good to you after you’ve learned to sing them.

As your inner voice feels more and more like it can sing along with lots of stuff and after you feel like you can find what’s in your head on your horn then spend time investigating the underlying structure. Chords, scales, strategies for constructing a solo.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun. They call it playing music for a reason.



+1! And +1 to Hermowiki. And +1 for " In retrospect I might as well have spent all that time whacking my toes with a hammer"
And +1! for recommending me a Stork mouthpiece (solved it all but another story/thread).

Yes, imitiation is the name of the game. Looking at a baby shortly after arrivalday, put your tongue out, so does the baby! A bit older no such reaction but then notice who´s initiating the "conversations". Who´s imitating whom? Daniel Stern (2004) reports that the "imitational episodes" between grown-ups and baby take place during 2-7 seconds. The common conversational phrase takes about 3 seconds; in music 2-8 seconds. If two tones within 3 seconds you experience a forward movement. In other words play it slowly, don´t try to "gush" tones learning to improvise , melodic "curlicues/embellishments" far more pleasant to listen to and easier to sing.
Very helpful not to say mandatory in these actions is us having this neurological set - the Mirror Neuron System" designed to help us syncronize - etc long story.
Anyway - play it again and again and again some day you know it by heart then learn the foundations, which notes are playable in e.g. Dbminor and so forth.
Personally I can improvise blues, yes, but following a series of harmonics (e.g C/A-9/D9/G-9/....)up tempo - nope. Lead I do, but I also think you´ll be helped by a certain "knack" reading quickly by sight or better hearing the harmonic changes. I don´t have that ability.
So there´s another question: how about this "knack"? I´ve read somewhere that Harry James, new in the band was supposed to play the Sing Sing Sing, telling he was rather preoccupied negotiating the modulation ending his solo - as we all know he was successful..He was blessed with the knack/ability (besides being a superior trumpetplayer per se)
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Hugh Anderson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrOlds seems to be suggesting to learn to play by ear. That would be high on everyone's list.
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SkrubCern
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:55 am    Post subject: thank you all! Reply with quote

Thank you all for helping me, I've took some of the ideas and asked around my jazz and other music friends. I've have finally figured out how to do it (even though i still need a lot of practice!) and now my solos are coming out a lot more easier and sounding much better!
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