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Tom Halliwell

Questions for guitar improvisers.. How many of you 'truly improvise' and how many string together licks that you've played before?

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This question is one i always ask when i met a guitar improviser and that is 
Do you 'truly improvise' or do you string together licks that you've played before?

For me, theres no right or wrong way just different. Many successful guitarists have different licks they play particularly in rock and blues styles but I find theres other guitarists who like to listen to what they are playing and play something new every time they improvise. In general this guys are more jazz fusion orientated. Would love to hear some of your perspectives 

 

Tom Halliwell

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Some would say everything I play is improvised, even when not intended to be.  

 

The latest CD my collaborator and I compiled was intended to sound mostly like a  3 piece garage band jamming on a lick. We have played together for about 25 years, so we can add structure to a jam with a single word, glance, movement, or other cue, but it usually comes down to a tiny bit new and a lot of same old.

 

I keep telling my collaborator I only know one lick, and just move it up and down.  After 25 years he still thinks I play different and "new" stuff all the time.  :-)

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4 hours ago, Rockerbob said:

Some would say everything I play is improvised, even when not intended to be.  

 

The latest CD my collaborator and I compiled was intended to sound mostly like a  3 piece garage band jamming on a lick. We have played together for about 25 years, so we can add structure to a jam with a single word, glance, movement, or other cue, but it usually comes down to a tiny bit new and a lot of same old.

 

I keep telling my collaborator I only know one lick, and just move it up and down.  After 25 years he still thinks I play different and "new" stuff all the time.  :-)

Haha thats great. if it works for you why change it :) do you have anything on youtube.. would love to hear :)

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Hi, Tom. I'm a bit like RockerBob, everything I play is improvisation in a sense. Even in tunes I've been playing for years (decades) I never play them the same way every time> I think once you get to know how music works and how the fretboard is laid out, it becomes almost impossible to stick to one way of expressing yourself ... there are so many possibilities. But I do know what you're saying, we all have our favorite ways of playing through chord changes and very rarely are we truly improvising. I'm lucky in that I play with people who will often start playing a song I've never heard before -- out of the blues -- and that's when I can say that I'm truly making it up on the fly, especially when it's not just a 12 bar blues. That's when you really have to LISTEN and hear what's going on and create a part very carefully and deliberately. I like that a lot.

 

When I lived in Sydney and was doing a lot of session work, I was often hired to 'add some zing and play a solo', mainly because I'm able to do that easily and quickly. That was back when it was all done in big, professional studios who charged by the hour. In those cases, you'd have a listen to a couple of run-throughs, follow the chord chart and then start recording. I would often wind up truly improvising when the producer would say stuff like 'make it end higher', or 'make it darker' ... you'd have to try and play what he was hearing in his head which, more often than not, wasn't what I would play myself.

 

For me, it's all about the chord progression, nothing else. I never think scales, modes or boxes, just the chords and the vibe of the tune. And I always try to remember to play as little as possible, keep my improv compact and make sure it's adding to, not subtracting from, the overall sound. So very often I play nothing.

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On 4/19/2018 at 2:49 PM, Tom Halliwell said:

Haha thats great. if it works for you why change it :) do you have anything on youtube.. would love to hear :)

I have some YouTube music videos.  I tried to post but the forum was broken.  This recording was inspired by the bass line.  We played guitar and bass live to a predetermined drum tempo/meter.  I think we recorded 3 takes and chose the one we liked best.  I have a pedal board that allows me to add effects when I need them.  There was very little post production work.  We were looking to create that 3 piece garage jam band sound - but hopefully with better licks.

 

I'm half deaf, so I play a lot by memory of where the notes are located.

 

OK, here's the recording called, "Big Bird," but it was not inspired by Sesame Street.  Something more like a hawk, condor, or eagle comes to my mind.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_J5Y2yygEQ

 

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On 4/24/2018 at 12:28 PM, JanVigne said:

I'll need to look at a TAB or notation for a run through before it's in my fingers and bouncing around my head.

 

When I taught myself to play guitar decades ago, TAB hadn't been invented.  Or, more appropriately, it hadn't been "standardized."  Thus, I never learned TAB and I feel it's been a hindrance to my playing improvement.  I understand it conceptually, but I can't seem to translate the tablature notation to the fretboard; I learned chord charts, and those I can quickly apply, which may seem counter-intuitive to those reading this.  

 

For me, I keep trying to apply "chord tones" using the chart diagrams in my head, translating them to the fingerboard.  It's hard work though, because I'm having to "double translate" while working my fingers.  It why PT appeals to me.  I'm still having to toss aside my old conceptions and try to apply the numbers to the notes.  It's not easy for me.

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