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MikkoKarhula

Improvisation can touch every part of playing

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Hi!

This improvisation section is to me "the source of life" in music. I have written a lot about creative playing, creativity that touches not only playing solos but the whole playing. Making practicing as creative that is possible you can get out of manners that rule your inner musical language. Also to get the personal way of sounding is to be honest to your self and improvise just to find right notes not to find right licks or theory-based thinking.

I think that this huge and important topic that can be talked days and days. I hope we get some discuss about it. Feel free to comment and contact. Here is video clip I made last summer at my parents summer cottage's veranda. It was something about 20 min long "song" and it started from one chord or a key and then I tried to make music for that rainy outside situation as freely I could.

Kindest, Mikko

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Hi JanVigne!

Thank you for your comment. It had excellent perspectives and I agree with you.

For young students I recommend practicing all the theory and techniques that are needed for the music they are involved with. But when I teach for example something very basic thing for beginner player, after he/she has understood and reached sufficient level in it I will try to find ways that student can use the learned subject creatively. We might connect the subject to a song or some kind of form and usually I encourage student to improvise with learned subject. That way the subjects will have different meaning and contact to actual music.

For more developed players I try to give inspiration with encouraging to improvisation with all the theory-knowledge and technique that already have. For example you can spend whole life in practicing scales in different modes, positions, fingerings, patterns etc. But if player doesn't know what is the character of the scale all practicing is waste of time. To me after player knows the theory behind the subject in this case scale the best way to get to know with scale is to improvise with it. Finding harmonies, intervals etc. and making little motifs or even songs with it. That way player get the way how scale is included to music. Also in that way you might choose harmonies, intervals etc. that really excite and inspire you and those feelings come from inside you. Then it's likely to say that you create your own.

When we think what is the music that guitar players hear the most? Ok, it's actually our own playing in most of the cases. And if player plays a lot of theory based or technique based practices his/her inner musical language might start to sound like that. Because our ears and fingers are used to it. When you include creativity, improvisation, exploration to your practicing routines your way of hearing things get more creative.

This is completely my own opinion and I don't courage people to leave their theory and technique practices at all. I have done them too a lot. I just hope that theory and technique isn't the most important thing to rely when making music when player is reached certain level.

In my case most of playing jobs include improvisation. The music that I play couldn't be played without improvisation. Of course for example classical or pop music is different thing. But you need creativity to make those styles of music too.

Kindest, Mikko

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Hello Mikko:

Great guitar playing and a great sounding guitar. All I do is improvise because I never learned to read music. I copy other players as often as I can, but it still comes out sounding like me. I learn by listening and simulating what I've heard. I can't read or write musical notation. I only know the barest of bones of "Music Theory." I just play.

That's usually OK with me. For the past few years I've had major hearing loss. I still hear, but poorly. $5000 hearing aids just barely get me through the day. If I try to record I have to use a kludged together EQ'd headphones system. that buzzes and distorts a bit, but allows me 31 bands of EQ per ear.

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Thanks JanVigne!

Your approach is also interesting. I feel that these forums can be very fertile. For example this was very insightfully said:

One of the more interesting ideas I have come across regarding music came from another musician reviewing another musician. He said of the performer and her performance "It's not that I can't play those notes, it's that I can't conceive of playing those notes."

Listening and imagination is truly necessities for awesome experience in music. Thank you for your wise words.

Regars,

Mikko

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Not saying one approach, yours or mine, is superior but rather just unique from each other. I can see many students might prefer your approach.

And, yes, your playing is exceptional and the guitar sound is a rare beauty. Thanks.

"If I try to record I have to use a kludged together EQ'd headphones system. that buzzes and distorts a bit, but allows me 31 bands of EQ per ear."

Yikes! I fully understand the need but that also brings with it 31 bands of comb filtering. I would think even just listening can be quickly fatiguing when you ask your brain to deal with that much reconstruction.

I certainly understand all the phase and filtering issues, but I must do something and it must be realtime. I have linear phase coherent EQ plug-ins, and I can get what most would call "realtime" but its not. The actual final mix will not go thought any of that crap except 1 set of headphones.

I don't need it when I record many guitar parts, but if I want to hear lower than 500Hz I must use some technology.

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"That is something I try to teach but, ultimately, it is up to the student to find that confidence within themself. It is not something I feel I can give, I can only point the direction for them to follow. "

I agree with you. Learning from others is must thing but student should not get stuck with anything. Some times ago I believed that I could copy some great masters and be like them. Happily I understood that we are here not be like some one else but to make our own way. After understanding that everything was easier. I believe my self, forgive my mistakes, have peaceful mind about being guitar player. That's all because I have found my inner-self and I know that I cannot 100% copy anyone and anyone cannot 100% copy me. By that understanding you can dig into your mind and find memories, feelings etc. that come from your lived life. And they control even the note choses you make.

It's big topic but that's how I feel for now and I hope that everyone would find this in their own being.

Kindest,

Mikko

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Hi!

Guitar is Cordoba C7 CE with colpeadors installed and action lowered just little bit. I don't know about strings because I change brand nearly every time.:)

Recording was made easily with Zoom h2 with mac's Garageband. Very cheap setup. Tuning is standard.

Cheers,

Mikko

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Awesome sound, it really is a piece of art. For me, improvizing means to create music on the go and in sync with your current emotional state.

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33 minutes ago, Paul_Reed said:

Awesome sound, it really is a piece of art. For me, improvizing means to create music on the go and in sync with your current emotional state.

Thank you! I think so too. It's interesting how differently one can play with same amount of skills and knowledge but in different state of mind and etc. This tells me that robots will not replace us as a musicians.

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I find it interesting how we improvise, or how the art is learned. For myself, I learn by integrating specific phrases and scales, then when I'm improvising, those phrases and scales get mixed up and rearranged, but its not a conscious process of mixing. The fact also that we can create melodies and such that do not sound anything like what we may have been playing points to a deeper level of music within us. 

 

I believe each of us has unique combinations of rhythm and harmonies and melodies that are a sonic representation of our individual souls. And improvising is such a great thing for all musicians, because you discover parts of yourself that you may not have uncovered normally, prompted to express in the heat of a jam, or solo. 

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