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One Rule For Improv, Keep It Simple


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#21 scotty_b

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 07:44 AM

Robben Ford's version of Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues is anything but simple, but still very bluesy and emotive.

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#22 chorizo

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 02:12 PM

Robben Ford's version of Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues is anything but simple, but still very bluesy and emotive.


The complexity comes from jazz, the blues element is still simple

#23 Random Robot

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 08:25 AM

Monte Montgomery is anything but simple and still has an amazing amount of feel and emotion in every lead he plays.
Exotic is just people talk for awesome...which you are!

#24 chorizo

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 07:12 AM

Monte Montgomery is anything but simple and still has an amazing amount of feel and emotion in every lead he plays.


But classical guitar also has an amazing amount of feel and emotion.

Monte is obviously very skilled and has a pretty unique way of playing but i personally wouldn't use him as an example for someone wishing to learn to play blues. He has his devoloped his own style.

#25 Random Robot

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 10:14 AM

Right. But the title of this thread (one rule for imrpov, keep it simple)doesn't mention the blues.
Exotic is just people talk for awesome...which you are!

#26 chorizo

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 03:10 PM

Right. But the title of this thread (one rule for imrpov, keep it simple)doesn't mention the blues.


That is a very good point, i'm getting swayed by discussions further on in the thread and i think my personal pref for simpler styles is coming into it.

My points above apply to my views on blues improv. :smile:

#27 Random Robot

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 03:53 PM

I've got a jam session, rehearsal type thing for a show I've got coming up in a few weeks with a guy who I just realized is on a completely different level of musicianship than I am. He saw my old band playing out (we were very rehearsed) and told me that if we ever needed someone to play keys let him know and he'd love to jam with us. I thought I'd give him a try on this deal and he was all for it. Then I asked him if he anything he'd like to play and he told me to check out his myspace page and maybe we'd try some of the stuff on there. http://www.myspace.com/tmsproject Dang, I'm in trouble. I plan on keeping it real simple and try not to over stretch myself.
Exotic is just people talk for awesome...which you are!

#28 carol m

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:37 PM

Don't worry RR - he asked you if he could jam with you, not the other way round so he knows your level and still wants to jam with you - it sounds like you're going to make some fast progress - well done. It's an opportunity not to be missed.
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#29 Random Robot

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:37 AM

Thanks for the words but I'd be a lot more comfortable if we were doing the same music I was playing when he saw us. We had worked on that stuff for a long time to get it right and tight. This is going to be high brow improv so I need to be on my A game to stand a chance. To relate this to this thread I plan on keeping it simple. I don't think there are any rules for improv but keeping it simple will probably be a very good mind set going into this. It's not going to look super hip and cool but I plan on taking a pen and some paper and just try to play nice melodic lines.
Exotic is just people talk for awesome...which you are!

#30 carol m

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 06:11 PM

That sounds like a plan RR. Personally I'm always impressed with very fast (emotionless) soloing, but I don't like it and would never listen to it from choice. Keeping it simple doesn't have to be boring, and usually it isn't anyway.

Also, I'm sure that he will see that you care about turning up on time and doing your best, and that is like gold for most bands. Let us know how you go. Do you have any means of recording it? You don't have to post the result, but it might be useful to listen back to after-wards so you can know what worked well and what needs to be practiced more.
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#31 Random Robot

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:32 PM

Good idea, maybe we should record it so we can see what worked and what didn't. This is going to be are only "rehearsal" before we play a show so that should be interesting.
Exotic is just people talk for awesome...which you are!

#32 zonshti

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

I think scales are just another tool in the tool box, arps (chord tones) , upper structures, subs, digital patterns, side stepping etc all are tools which the improviser needs to internalize improvisation is all about internalizing in the woodshed and then the unconscious will feed you the lines (you hear in your brain)

#33 MarkHenry

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 05:54 AM

Thanks for sharing this very useful post. I agree with this simple rule.

#34 philTHEthrill

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 07:16 PM

................ but I KNOW from experience when you over complicate things you ruin them..



When given the choice, simple is better.

There is genius in simple.

#35 scotty_b

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 09:32 AM

But there is also genius in complexity. Miles Davis was the master of understated phrases and this served as a wonderful contrast to Dizzy, Bird and Trane who were every bit as innovative as Miles but chose to express themselves in different ways.
Simple might be better or it might not be. Too many variables and it is entirely subjective anyway. What is a mess to one person is a thing of beauty to another.

#36 philTHEthrill

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 07:23 PM

Yes, I have to agree, there is genius in complexity.

But you have to admit that complex things can always be broken down to simple steps. Therefore, everything is simple.

An old baseball player named Yogi Berra said "Its easy if you know how to do it"

#37 Marks graph paper guitar

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 07:09 AM

I'd like to chime in on this. Not to argue one way over the other, just to tell about where I'm at. I use the parent scale when it comes to soloing in most tunes*... My ear guides me to to the chord tones, which are always included inside the parent scale. - of course as long as the chords are diatonic to one key. Knowing the entire scale across the fretboard lets me be able to chose the 'outside/tension' notes on-demand and as needed.

Let's say a chord (usually chordS) shows up outside the parent scale...I treat that as a simple key change, and the way I learned scales (see my graph paper learning method) I find switching keys on the fly isn't all that hard. Quite a few key changes only require changing the 'guts' of a typical pentatonic box shape.

Another trick I might use to make the lines flow through the new chord, is to determine the interval distance of the new key center from the old one.. lets say the key moved a flat 3rd up...(random tidbit: shares 4 notes) simply be in the middle of a line and shift your line up a flat 3rd as you roll through it. Your now set up in your new key center. This works if the new key hangs around for a while.

*Most tunes, meaning anything but serious jazz, where chord tones are going to be a better way to get you through fast moving non-diatonic or altered chords...

And this would explain why I've gotten much much better at improv over the past few years, but still have a mountain to climb to get to jazz.

But as I get comfortable at improv....learning chord tones and seeing them up and down the neck is easier to see and understand.

#38 KendoSurf

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 08:11 PM


Excellent discussion. No complaints. Many views on guitar playing and music, worthy of considering. :yes:

My perspective: YNGWIE, superlative speed and accuracy running scales. Soulful, no.

HENDRIX, maybe the best guitar player of the 20th century. Didn't read or write music. FEELINGS! COLORS! He frustrated his band mates at times with extreme SOULFUL musical goals in mind.

MEGADETH, one of the top speedmetal bands ever. According to ELLEFSON, they never "sat down and wrote out" a MEGADETH song. However, he said it REALLY HELPS to have basic knowledge of composition, and the ins and outs of music.

#39 Marks graph paper guitar

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:25 AM

To me... it's about an ever expanding 'bag of trick's'.

 I started seriously pursuing a music theory education (private study) a few years ago, and the pay-off has been I now have my own way to simplify and understand music theory, for the purpose of expanding my bag of tricks.  

 Because, as I found my way to unlocking the fretboard under my finger's, I found that playing all the specific notes (usually 7) of the key your in...  added a new depth to my playing, but it was really just another trick in the bag..   

 

More to the point, I found that any one way you play... any wicked scale run, or pattern, lick or riff, or chord tone, harmonic, squeal, noise, arpeggio, finger tapping trick, will work.   For a short time.  No one size fit's all method. Not every song will demand every trick.  

 

Now enter feel.   Not only putting 'feel' in your line's melodies and harmonies,  but having a feel for what trick's to draw from, and when, and what to leave out for the next piece. Also being in the moment so much your able to add in what comes to you mid flight.  Also feeling what the drum's, bass, or vocals or whatever are calling for.  Being aware of how the piece make you feel, and letting that out through your choices.  

 

Then enter the pied piper mentality..  if you go really deep and start pulling from your bag of tricks to lead the audience through fleeting moments of tension.. then release on the note choices, and on the rhythm..  you'll be tapping the thunder.

 

So thats my advice.   I think the dilemma is, a 'people' thing.   I noticed people seem to be hardwired in life for certain thing's.  Which is a good thing.. some people will build highways, and some will be able to make other people well, and on and on.

 

In music, you have all types of people approaching guitar. Some people are prewired to gobble up the theory aspect of music, and can get it all and memorize a ton of things. Including speed picking techniques, and complex classical pieces. But then comes trying to create that deep bluesy or jazzy feel from all these musical do's and dont's.  That feel , seems to be across the musical abyss....        From another angle, you have your Feel guitarist.  Started playing learning solo's from all the greats with a ton of Feel.  (me learning every Dave Gilmour solo in the late 80's) 

 This player get's bend's and hand vibrato perfected first..  masters minor pentatonic.  tries some music theory, but the first hurdles seem insurmountable / too much to memorize (that doesnt sound like actual music)..   So that guitaist (me) get's stuck in a rut. Loves playing but has a problem feeling limited in knowledge when they hear a guitarist who can improvise well.

 

The abyss, seems to be getting that knowledge the greats have..  the trick, is how to transform technical explanations of what your music teacher is describing into actual tools-you-can-use to  generate real musical interest.  

 

I think the music theory struggle happens a lot of times, because of this..  Imagine trying to explain a school bus to someone who had never seen or heard of one..  you wanted to tell them they are always yellow, but to do that you had to discuss, what 'color' is.  Then you had to describe the history of cars and trucks to help them understand why a school bus looks and operates the way it does..   Hour's or explanation later, and you haven't even created a mental picture of an actual school bus in the persons mind yet.  And now there lost on details and questions.  

 

Hopefully you can find a teacher, mentor, friend, that will give you the musical details first, then let you form the bigger picture from there.

 

A big secret to my own knowledge safari, was simply pressing forward in 'Baby steps'.  Setting a rule for myself, that no day would be complete without trying to get a tiny bit of new theory understood. I still do that, but after a few years of doing that, I'm swimming in a sea of new trick's, that's keeping me entertained. And hopefully soon, an audience as well...



#40 sober4good

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 12:15 PM

Deltabluesman.......I have to agree with Scotty_b....I dont think there are or should be "rules" for improv.....thats why its called improv.  

 

I am only a beginner, but I do know that when I go to see a recording artist play live, I dont wanna hear the album....I want to hear them jam live!  Everyone solos differently.  Thats what makes it great to listen to all guitarists and then use what you see and hear to develop your own "style".  

 

I truly believe music, especially the blues, comes from the heart....from a person's soul.  Thats what I love about the blues.  


:smilinguitar: Steve :rockon: 





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