Advice on learning how to improvise?

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by Mastodon, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. Mastodon

    Mastodon Songs about My Cats

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    I was wondering if you guys knew of any good sequencing software, or of any place where I could just download sequences to improv. over.

    I need to learn how to improvise for jazz ensemble next year. Improvising isn't part of the audition (which is in a couple weeks) but I want to start working on it now just in case.

    I stumbled across this Dave Weiner lesson earlier today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXmt_V3NSjs

    Sounds like really good advice, but I don't own a sequencer and I don't have the money for one either.

    I could always put together a progression in GP, but that's time consuming and I want to be able to work over drums and bass as well.

    Any other advice you guys have on practicing improvisation would be really appreciated too. :yesway:
     
  2. Nik

    Nik Arrogant asshole

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    One thing I find helpful is improvising over Satriani backing tracks (there's tons over at guitarbt.com).

    Some songs aren't very good for practice over changes (like "Searcing"), but there are also lots of real good Satch songs. Instead of learning the actual Satch melody, I try to come up with my own over the changes. Since most Satch songs are tabbed out, you can also go on line and look up the exact chords that are on the backing tracks.

    Another thing I find useful is to simply analyze Satch (and other people's songs) and examine their phrasing and how their note choice interacts with the chords underneath.

    guitarbt.com has also a lot of user-made practice tracks for improv that are set in a certain key (stuff like 'jam in G Lydian'), but with those, you have to figure out the chords yourself, or just let you ears guide you.

    I hope that helps you :wavey:
     
  3. distressed_romeo

    distressed_romeo F'king ............ Forum MVP

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    Start with baby-steps.

    You don't need an expensive sequencer or softeware to get started. Just a dictophone that you can strum some chords into will be fine.

    Begin with simple one-chord vamps, ideally with varying rhythms, and practice improvising over those, starting with simple diatonic/pentatonic ideas, and then stretching out, and possibly experimenting with chromatic ideas. Sing every note you play whilst you're doing it, as that'll help break down the barrier between brain and hands, and will help you develop more vocal phrasing.
    After that, move onto two-chord progressions, like 2-5, 1-4 or 1-5 progressions, and do the same thing. Get comfortable playing over those, then start adding extra chords to diatonic progressions. Once you're comfortable playing over purely diatonic progressions, start including some secondary dominants, or other 'borrowed' chords, and changes to different keys or modalities (such as flip-flopping between major and minor...Satch's compositions are indeed good for this).
    The next step would be to start soloing over typical jazz sequences, such as a sequence of 2-5-1s in different keys.

    You don't need expensive software to practice this; you could just make a tape of yourself strumming some chords to a metronome click and it would be fine. The important thing is that you can hear both the chord changes, and where the downbeat is. A tip for practicing jazz is to use the metronome, but say the metronome click is on the off-beat of each bar, and try and play in swing time with that.

    Being a good improviser is a lifetime's pursuit, but that should get you started...
     
  4. Mastodon

    Mastodon Songs about My Cats

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    :yesway:

    Thanks guys. (The thanked post button dissapears at random times for me so I'll have to add thanks to your posts later on)
     

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