#1
Okay. I've been playing guitar for 7 years, and frankly; my improvisations skills lack terribly. I don't know exactly how to get them up to par with let's say.. Marty Friedman.

But, I've tried using simple scales over the key of a song and such. I'm not HUGELY familiar with scales and all of that, but I know basics of Major, Minor (natural, melodic and harmonic) as well as some Modes.

I can play almost anything if I know it, instead of improvising, so all of you improvisation guitarists out there have any tips? Should I learn scales up and down and all around? Or are there techniques to use?

Second question:

I also play drums a little as well, so if there are any drummers; I'd like to know if you prefer your spring on your double bass pedals loose or tight and why?
"The darkest souls are not those which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but those which choose to break free from the abyss and move silently among us."
#2
Im both, For improvisation, just jam with friends and learn scales. thats all I do.

for drumming, a medium tension. to tight and its harder to push, and harder to play longer. to loose just feels weird.
Where the hell did slide guitar go!?!
#3
Man, improvising is all good but most 'good' music you hear is not improvised.
Blues,jazz and slower rock is easier to get started with but it takes time.
one way to help is to breath out and play breathe in and stop. then play something that kind of 'responds' to the first improv with next breath. give it a try
#4
as TW909 said, most good music is not improvised. now, i'm not as experienced as you, and i don't know how far you've gotten with improv, but i might have some advice. start with more simple stuff, like pentatonic and the 12 bar blue using minor pentatonic to solo over it. sit down and come up with licks, or use some that already exist, let's say that bend/release/pull-off lick in the middle of the stairway to heaven solo. take that and use it when improvising.

nobody can truly improvise, it's just that most excellent guitarist have built up a huge "library" of licks and runs, and piece them together in a unique way to form an "improvised" solo. that's Marty Friedman's theory in my own words. (from latest GW mag)
Quote by Nakon14




Gear:
Epiphone Les Paul Studio
Crate GTD65
Vox DA5
#5
I disagree that nobody can truly improvise, I have a feeling a lot of jazz players would refute that. Music is about the building and resolution of tension, the difficulty with improvising is knowing how to do that on the fly, good licks are just set ways of doing just that.

When beginning to improvise it's good in my opinion to stay in the same scale. Blues is really good because the scale is simple and tension is easily built. But you have to hear the tension and know what you should play to resolve it when you choose to. The problem with switching modes all over the place is that you get caught up in the different scales you could play and you end up just playing scales that would work, but that's more boring than doing interesting things in just one scale for a while.

Try to solo slowly at first, because it can't be a mindless thing, and doing it slowly with concentration makes it easier than you'd think. Also rhythmic phrasing is a new skill to develop when soloing, it's certainly my main difficulty personally, but there have been some tips i've found useful: melodies are often derived from speech in a way, so break the notes up, pauses are important (people don't speak for ages without a break, guitarists can); try limiting the number of notes you can play, choose two or three notes and try to make it sound interesting, it forces development of rhythm.

Kind of a rant, but it's what I'm working on at the moment too, so those are my thoughts, although as I said, still working on it :-)
#6
Quote by TW909
Man, improvising is all good but most 'good' music you hear is not improvised.
Blues,jazz and slower rock is easier to get started with but it takes time.
one way to help is to breath out and play breathe in and stop. then play something that kind of 'responds' to the first improv with next breath. give it a try


Epic fail.
#7
What do you mean by "good" music? Most metal isn't improvised, but if you want to play any blues, jazz, folk, rock, or sod it even pop, you're going to need to improvise. Improvisation is the magic ingredient that makes modern music what it is. Playing the guitar, which is one of the easiest instruments to improvise on, you have no excuse. I don't care how many notes per second you can play, if you can't improvise, you're nothing.
#8
Quote by Cacophonic
I don't know exactly how to get them up to par with let's say.. Marty Friedman.
That's a hell of a goal. Good for you.

That's only half-sarcastic, folks. The sarcastic half is me laughing at the idea that a beginner at improv wants to just jump up to the level of Friedman, someone who is considered the best guitarist in his genre by many people. The serious half is that, if this is accomplished, damn...

Anyway, the links in my sig should help. Make sure you're completely comfortable with basic theory to the point that you can explain the ideas to a pianist or a sexist saxist (see what I did? ) as that will demonstrate that you understand the theory, not just patterns that happen to work on the guitar in standard tuning. Most people have only a partial knowledge of theory and quite a bit of what they know is wrong when they think they're comfortable with the concepts.

Again, my sig is a good place to start. Read Freepower's sig as well.
#9
Ignore the stuff about most good stuff is not improvised. That's not true.

Start by learning a scale. Preferably the C major.
Next become familiar with each scale shape.
Here
You don't have to memorize them just become familiar with them and know how they "connect"
Next take 3 notes. lets say E F and G in the C major scale (3,4,5)
Find those three notes on each string twice.
They should have a similar shape. (first finger, second finger, fourth finger.)
Example E---0---1---3------12---13---15

They should sound the same.
Continue until you have found all the notes in that key. (It will help greatly if you know what notes you are playing)
Next find/create a backing track using any chords from the C major scale.
(Chords in a Key)
Next start slowly using those boxes that i mentioned above and make sure to use the whole neck by finding the same notes in all the different positions.
Make sure to use your ear to help tell you what notes sound right and are in key. Later throw in some bends, slides and legato.
#10
Quote by Ssargentslayer
Ignore the stuff about most good stuff is not improvised. That's not true.
Agreed, at least on lead guitar. Riffs aren't going to be improvised, but if you're a fan of Hendrix, SRV, or Friedman, you like improvised solos; the Tornado of Souls solo is first-take improv.
#11
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Agreed, at least on lead guitar. Riffs aren't going to be improvised, but if you're a fan of Hendrix, SRV, or Friedman, you like improvised solos; the Tornado of Souls solo is first-take improv.

For me, its to much work to write and memorize a solo when I can easily improvise one the can be just as good. I just have certain "licks" that sound good that i will occasionally use when soloing.
#12
Improvisation is the ability to think on your feet and play fluidly. It's like a direct link from your mind to your fingers.

I liken it to a child learning to talk.

First they babble. Then they start to use meaningful words - just a few. Then they learn more words and use words correctly though they can't form full sentences. As they progress they learn how to put a few key words together. And over time they learn how to form more complete sentences. Until eventually they are constructing sentences on the fly that are gramatically correct with meaning. Then if they are lucky they get to the point beyond where they can use words as an artform and become innovators. Very rare level to achieve.

Similarly improvising musical ideas starts with an ability to recognize or know which pitch will "fit" in the right place. When you can find the right pitch to fit in the right place you start finding other pitches to combine with that one in ways that create a more complex idea.

At first your improv might only make sense to you just as a 2 or 3 year old might know exactly what they want to say and when they speak it makes perfect sense to them, but to anyone that's not listening hard or that is unfamiliar, it comes out as jibberish.

Eventually your phrasing, gramatic structure, and articulation improves and you are able to construct full ideas on the fly. Then with more practice you can take it beyond that to a level not many reach were you are an innovator of musical ideas. Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix etc.

Studying scales, and licks from other songs is great because it helps build your articulation and awareness of phrasing and structure. You get an idea of how to form ideas and what things work together.

Anyway the best way is to have a set amount of time dedicated to improv. Try it with a simple backing track and try it completely solo. Have a 1/4 or more of your time set aside everyday for just exploring and improvising new ideas.

It's passion and practice that will get you there.
Si
#13
Listen to someone singing and try to play the melody back at the recording. Then take it off in your own direction and see what happens.

Improv as we know it today started with old dixieland jazz where the musicians would each take their own turn embellishing the melody and it gradually evolved into a more free form concept. I find that embellishment and building ideas at a small level is the best way to begin learning improvisational techniques once you've got an elementary understanding of theory.

I keep my double bass pedals on the tight side because I often drum in steel toed boots. I think it's easier to do fast double bass when the pedal kicks back harder, but I'm also a pretty bad drummer.
Quote by bangoodcharlote
^Owned.

I suggest not screwing with the UGer with the best name on the site.


Quote by Albino_Rhino
I don't see how prostitution is going to help out your string buzz...
Last edited by Rebelw/outaCord at Jan 27, 2009,
#14
Whenever you're studying the likes of Hendrix or SRV (and they're good people to study; they're famous for a reason), you want to be thinking "how did they improvise this?". Because that's what they did. I've heard a lot of kids who think they're as good as Hendrix just because they can play one of his solos note for note. It takes a lot more than that. You've got to be able to hear it in your head and play it.
#15
I appreciate the advice and all, it's pretty helpful.

Quote by bangoodcharlote
That's a hell of a goal. Good for you.

That's only half-sarcastic, folks. The sarcastic half is me laughing at the idea that a beginner at improv wants to just jump up to the level of Friedman, someone who is considered the best guitarist in his genre by many people. The serious half is that, if this is accomplished, damn...


Also, yes. I'm a beginner at improv, but I can play almost anything you put in front of me. I'm kind of like the Jason Becker of Cacophony. Just not as good. I can play Altitudes by Jason, and it's not really that hard for me. So, if I set my goal to Marty then I'm sure to be somewhat good.

Back to everyone else.. I know some theory, stuff that I've taught myself. I know the C Major scale and all. And I do practice improv. I just get annoyed with the fact that nothing is going good with it and just move to something else. I need a way to keep it fun, but with me still learning.

I guess it's not all THAT important to be an improv master, but it'd be nice to have in my arsenal.
"The darkest souls are not those which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but those which choose to break free from the abyss and move silently among us."
#17
Working on it; thanks.
"The darkest souls are not those which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but those which choose to break free from the abyss and move silently among us."
#18
Quote by Cacophonic
I appreciate the advice and all, it's pretty helpful.


Also, yes. I'm a beginner at improv, but I can play almost anything you put in front of me. I'm kind of like the Jason Becker of Cacophony. Just not as good. I can play Altitudes by Jason, and it's not really that hard for me. So, if I set my goal to Marty then I'm sure to be somewhat good.

Back to everyone else.. I know some theory, stuff that I've taught myself. I know the C Major scale and all. And I do practice improv. I just get annoyed with the fact that nothing is going good with it and just move to something else. I need a way to keep it fun, but with me still learning.

I guess it's not all THAT important to be an improv master, but it'd be nice to have in my arsenal.

When I bought this I got a lot better at improv.
#19
i just gotta say...

what blew the doors of perception wide open for me was when i finally understood the concept of intervals, and how they are the building block of all other music theory.

i was able to use intervals to start moving my on-the-fly playing in all directions on the fretboard. I was able to build a map of the fretboard in my mind from the root note outwards... meaning i know how to find a fourth, or a third, or a sixth, or whatever, in three or four different directions of the root note, wherever the root note occurs. logically, if i know where all my root notes occur, i will also know where all my other notes occur.

from there, once i memorized the interval patterns for the basic scales, i was able to just start free-associating some improvised guitar solos in whatever key i wanted. the more you do that, the more you know what your options are. the more you play with a band and apply these concepts, the better you'll be at improvising a real solo over a chord progression and making it sound slick.

for example, if you click on the myspace link in my profile, and listen to "Weightless In The Waiting Room" you'll hear a couple of solos that were just first takes. i knew what my first bar was going to be, and i knew how i was going to get out of the solos, but the rest was made up on the spot. the notes all still resolve and sound centered around the riff though.

hope some of this helped.
Last edited by frigginjerk at Jan 28, 2009,
#20
Man, improvising is all good but most 'good' music you hear is not improvised.


You know, Mozart improvised a good deal of his work. There's also, you know, the entirety of the jazz genre.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#21
Quote by frigginjerk
if you click on the myspace link in my profile, and listen to "Weightless In The Waiting Room"
cool song man.
Si
#23
I was never much good at improvising beyond basic blues stuff. But here's a couple of thoughts. Often its the silences that give what you play the right feel for the type of tune. Playing a slow, sleazy blues with a lightening fast improv solo sounds terrible, as does trying to get moody in straight rock 'n' roll.
When writing songs those riffs and hooks started as someone's improvisation. Have you ever really listened to any good guitarist in rehearsal? Their bits change each time they play, but the overall feel remains much the same. Gilmour is a master at this sort of thing.
Oh, I just thought. One of the great guitar tunes was Fleetwood Mac's Albatross. The legend is that Greeny and a couple of others were just jamming a simple improvised thing as a warm-up in the studio. The rest is history.
#24
Of course improvisation is memorisation to a degree.

Talking is memorisation, walking is memorisation, everything has to be memorised.

DIfference between writing and Improvisation is this;

With improvisation, you play what you at that moment feel/experience/think about.

Writing means, you try idea, and if you like it you keep it, and if you don't you change or throw it away.

Me writing this post is improvisation, me editing this post is "writing" in that sense.

All the things you essentially write are improvisations. Improvisation in the way they mean is combining music and what you play is what you get, unedited. The appeal is not so much in the end result, but in the way the performer chooses his licks/notes in the improvisations.

That's why a good improvisation is liked so much, because people see the energy and "true honesty" of playing what the performer at that moment experiences.

Even the "mistakes" are a lot of times regarded as interesting.

It's just regarded more personal, cause you can't edit what you played, so it's pure honesty in that sense.

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 28, 2009,