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Teaching Improvisation, Where Do I Start?

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facefish    0

Do NOT THINK. Improvisation is about instananeous response and consciousness is a terrible barrier to this. Music, from a players point of view, (IMO) is more of a feeling than a thought. It is very difficult not to be self conscious in the presence of other players but in reality the other players feel this too, so you're on a level playing field. The exciting thing for me is the risk that you might perform like a right Charlie or even a complete banana. Over the years I have come to realise that the only thing to fear is fear itself - the fear of failure.

Have you ever listened to The Shaggs? Check them out.

For me the only place to be is on the edge, which is where all the good stuff is to be found. Let go the ego and savour the danger. That is where it is at. Let go and enjoy yourself, people latch onto this aspect much more than you'd think.

If you're going to fail, fail heroically and be proud of your (under) achievement. Pay no attention to others' opinion, be yourself and be proud. It is unique. See Derek Bailey for further reassurance. This is the way.

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Kirk Lorange    128

Thanks for the post, facefish, and for pointing us to those examples.

While I do appreciate what you're saying and what Derek Bailey and the Shaggs are doing, I don't think that's the kind of improvisation we're talking about here, which is the more structured approach, where the improvised lines do need to follow the underlying changes.

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hb    0

My theory means nothing as there are many out there that have forgotten more than I'll ever know. With that said, when I think of improvisation, to me, that means knowing where you want to go before you get there. When I play a song that I have memorized, I just play it, as I know where I'm going. I can play the scale or chord tones and pluck out each note fine, as they all fit into the key just fine......it's just that it's not music as I am unsure as to where to take it. I guess I just can't hear the rest of the line in my brain as it hasn't been invented yet, where others seem to be able to hear the rest of the line before they get to it.

JMO

hb

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Here is a different approach all together. I used the Jamey Aebersold stuff when I started improvising.

I highly recommend volume 24 "Major and Minor" and the Volume titled "Maiden Voyage".

These are great vehicles to stretch your ideas out, and will provide a more interesting context than just running scales, arpeggios, chords, triads, polychords, blah blah all day.

Alternatively, also visit Chris Buzzellis site

There is great information on his site about beginning tunes to learn for improvisation and in a recommended order.

Good Luck.

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I know I'm pretty late on this one but they way I'm learning to improvise is to follow the chords and really target the 3rd. If you rock out on just a major scale or a pentatonic scale it's very hard to really create much of a melody and it's easy for the listener to lose track of the song. You can really carry a song by yourself without anything else going on by only playing the 3rd of the chord your on. I haven't bought Plane Talk yet (waiting until it hits the bargin bin, JK) because I'm taking lessons off of a really great teacher but I hear everyone talk about chord tones and I guess it's kind of the same thing. So I would make sure they understand CAGED and then tell them to go nuts targeting the 3rds.

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Hello, Kirk. Sorry for the delay. The idea of the Aebersold method is to get people playing and having fun with jazz by playing along with the recordings.

Every Aebersold book/cd set contains chord changes, melody, and coomon scales for usage over the progressions.

Each set also comes with 2 periodicals that Jamey uses at his summer Jazz Workshops, that are intended for helping beginning improvisers get some common scales and rhythmic usages of the Jazz genre under their belt.

The other cool thing is that you can isolate the channels of the recordings to practice your jazz comping as well.

The other site is: Chris Buzzelli. Jazz Guitar Professor at BGSU. The website is just his name dot com. chrisbuzzelli

Take Care Kurt.

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gosgirl    0

im not sure what you can do yourself as i dont know how much you know yourself and im a firm believer that improvisation simply cannot be taught .

its a process that arises from experience that takes years to learn , let alone master .

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scotty_b    16

I would say that improvisation can be taught. Yes it takes years to master, but it is not magic.

For the most part it is re-arranging the musical vocabulary of the player at that given moment in time. To truly create something new is very difficult. Miles Davis was quoted as saying that if he created one new idea in a night he was very happy. John McLaughlin has shared similar sentiments in Guitar Player magazine.

As someone with an extensive vocabulary is better able to express concepts than someone without, someone with a greater musical vocabulary can do the same.

I had the privilege of seeing Larry Carlton live two years ago. Robben Ford was playing in the band as well. Phenomenal, and two of my favourite players. No disrespect to Robben at all, but Larry that night was in a completely different league in terms of his soloing concepts.

Larry's vocabulary was far beyond any other guitarist I have heard play improvised music, though if we broke it down we would find that he has a collection of patterns and licks that he uses to create what he does; it is simply that he has more patterns and licks stored in memory than most players could ever hope for.

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hb    0

"As someone with an extensive vocabulary is better able to express concepts than someone without, someone with a greater musical vocabulary can do the same."

I think that speaks volumes no matter what you are trying to do! Good point!

hb

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solidwalnut    5
...Larry's vocabulary was far beyond any other guitarist I have heard play improvised music, though if we broke it down we would find that he has a collection of patterns and licks that he uses to create what he does; it is simply that he has more patterns and licks stored in memory than most players could ever hope for.

Great stuff, Scotty. I don't think that info like this can be passed on enough.

It's all about 'chunking and chaining'. Learning small chunks and then chaining the chunks together to make larger ones. An easy lick or pattern chained together with another easy link and pattern make a pattern that is a little more challenging, etc. The ol' 'crawl before you walk' message.

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