#1
First of, if this topic comes up a lot direct me to a thread explaining my question and I will close this thread.

So lets say you're jamming with your mate and he's playing a chord progression containing Em, G and Am in the key of Em and you decide to play the harmonic minor scale. Do you just improvise over that scale playing the notes that you know sound well together, or do you take into account what chords are being played in order to determine what notes to play?

And I know that knowing intervals is good for transcribing music by ear, but how does your knowledge on them help you during improvisation?
#2
If you're improvising, it's best not to rely entirely on predetermined licks/intervals that you like. If you play around in a chord progression, you're naturally going to go towards what sounds good, which would be chord tones while mixing in interesting bits to add zest and voice and whatever else you want to call it.

Intervals directly translate to aural knowledge, and a strong ear is the best tool for improvisation. As long as you can listen, you don't have to think, "Well, going up to the 4th of this will add yada yada yada", it just happens naturally.

Use your theory to nudge you in the right direction and your ear to follow the rhythm/key/note/what have you. It'll work itself out in time.
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#3
Which harmonic minor scale will you play over it?
I'm guessing E harmonic minor. If so, the D# will clash pretty harshly with all of those chords.
Why would you want to use the harmonic minor over that progression?

Good improvisers take everything into account, and one of the most important things of course in this case are the chords being played, so yes.

If you hear an interval in your head during the improv, and you know what interval it is, you can play it. As a matter of fact, if you don't do this, it isn't improvising, it's just playing random notes.
#4
Let's see know the intervals on a guitar will help you know where the chord tones are like the flat 3rd and 5th are as well as the sharp 7 since you are in harmonic minor. That is one reason knowing the intervals are important in my eyes.

How you improvise is really up to you though, you can just run countless fast licks using the Harmonic Minor scale at E or you can try to create riffs that sound good using certain notes of the scale. Like stated above the chord tones you really want to use to resolve are the I bIII and V. Using the #VII to create tension you don't want to resolve your riff on that note.

To practice just make riffs using passing tones (II, IV, VI) but try to resolve to the I III or V.

You want to always keep in mind the chord change so you can know when to resolve and when to end a passage.

Someone please read that to make sure I am not just speaking jiberish to the TC.
#5
Quote by Keth
Which harmonic minor scale will you play over it?
I'm guessing E harmonic minor. If so, the D# will clash pretty harshly with all of those chords.
Why would you want to use the harmonic minor over that progression?

Good improvisers take everything into account, and one of the most important things of course in this case are the chords being played, so yes.

If you hear an interval in your head during the improv, and you know what interval it is, you can play it. As a matter of fact, if you don't do this, it isn't improvising, it's just playing random notes.

Yeah I meant E harmonic minor. My knowledge of theory is somewhat lacking so I wouldn't have known that D# would have clashed with them, I was just using it as an example.
#6
Your best bet would be to play E minor. For someone who is starting with improvising, best tip I can give you right now is to focus on hearing the melody in your head, and slowly move out of depending on scale shapes.
#7
Quote by Duffman123
Yeah I meant E harmonic minor. My knowledge of theory is somewhat lacking so I wouldn't have known that D# would have clashed with them, I was just using it as an example.
In order to be a smart and intentional improviser, you should know this. This is where learning intervals will help you.

Off the top of your head, you should be able to say that E harmonic minor has E F# G A B C D# and that Em G Am have the notes (E G B), (G B D), and (A C E), respectively.

Notice how G major has that D natural in there. The D# will clash pretty hard with that. There's no D or D# in Am, but D# is an odd tension to throw in, because it creates an augmented second against the C. Then again, it could be a cool tension if you know how to use it (and avoid it when it's not appropriate).
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#8
I appreciate the replies guys

If this thread has taught me one thing it's that I need to brush up on my theory.
#9
yea, good convo guys
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#10
Quote by Duffman123
First of, if this topic comes up a lot direct me to a thread explaining my question and I will close this thread.

So lets say you're jamming with your mate and he's playing a chord progression containing Em, G and Am in the key of Em and you decide to play the harmonic minor scale. Do you just improvise over that scale playing the notes that you know sound well together, or do you take into account what chords are being played in order to determine what notes to play?

And I know that knowing intervals is good for transcribing music by ear, but how does your knowledge on them help you during improvisation?

You can't use the hamonic minor scale over that, there is a D in Gmajor and the harmonic minor scale would use D#, not D. if you play Gaugmented instead, you can do it. over the chord progression Em, Gaug, Am, you just come up with melodic ideas in the E harmonic minor scale right on the spot.
#11
Quote by Duffman123
...

Do you just improvise over that scale playing the notes that you know sound well together, or do you take into account what chords are being played in order to determine what notes to play?




It depends.

One can think of the chord changes as supporting the improvisation (comping) or one can think of an improvisation that evokes the chords changes.

I believe, to start, play what sounds good to you and experiment a bit.

As you learn more songs and solos (hopefully by ear) you'll start to internalize the sounds of what you like and what you want to sound like. This leads to an important aspect of music theory -- analysis.