#1
I've playing guitar for ~7 years and studying music theory formally for the last 2 years. In that time, I never bothered to sit down and learn improvisation. When I started out, I never understood when people told me to "practice your scales". So now, I admit I feel like a mediocre player without what I consider a basic skill.

Anyway. Right now, as a musician, I think learning to improvise is of uttermost importance. I need good resources on improvisation, and I mean beyond UG's lessons. I want books that explore improvisation on depth, especially blues. This is all very important to me as I will be applying to a very respected college of music next year and transfer from my current uni. The good news is that I'm all good in my technique and theory, I just need something to combine both, if you want to put it that way.

tl;dr suggest good books that teach improvisation for a ****** who didn't bother to learn in 7 years of playing
Wave goodbye to the past.
You've got your whole life to lead.


Fender 60's Lacquer Jazzmaster
Schecter C-1+ with SD '59
Egnater Tweaker 15
PolyTune noir
Algal Bloom fuzz
Fingerprint Redux fuzz
Nocturner reverb
Flashback delay
#2
I won't suggest you any books on improvisation, but i will give you personal advice that has worked wonders for me when it comes to improvisation.

1) Learn tunes you like by ear, sing what you play to connect your ear to your instrument.
2) Learn to recognize intervals by ear
3) Practice "singing -> playing" improv. What i mean is sing an idea, then try to find it on the guitar. Lay down different chords/chord progressions and do this.

You want to do this because with a good ear you can improvise over anything, regardless of what key it is in. I have had friends that are amazing improvisers that failed getting into college for music, cause they couldn't pass the improvisation test cause they didn't know which key they were in before they started playing.

Improvisation is aiming to achive the ability to play what you hear in your head on your instrument, too many players allow their instruments to play them.

"Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself." - Cecil Taylor
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything." - Chick Corea

That is what helped me improves massively when it comes to improvisation. I hope it can be to any help for you.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#3
Mark Levine's books and Bert Ligon's books on jazz are good books on improvisation. But I mostly agree with Sickz here. Improvisation is a lot like a path of self-discovery. The best way to explore it is to pre-hear in your head the pitches you want to play, and then to play them. So good luck!
#4
^^ good stuff

A good way to learn improvising is to be very analytic of what you do, and what others do.

Take a lick by an artist, and play it over the chords it's been played over, then do all kind of shit to it.

Play it slower, change up the rhythm, play around with playing it legato, and when you've done that change up notes and really listen how it changes stuff.

That's just one exercise you can do (with more line off course not just one).

Another is to play a 2 or 3 chord vamp, and limit yourself to 3 notes, then try as many permutations of as many factors as you can come up with, like the former exercise.

Everything on guitar relates to each other, so if you transcribe stuff by ear, you will also help the above exercises in hearing how different notes affect the sound as well as in how a complete solo works.

Just analyze everything, and learn everything, but concious.

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

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
#5
books wont teach you how to improvise. all your guitar heroes learned by listening to records

its personal work, you have to transcribe a ****ton of tunes, ii-V-I patterns in major and minor, turnarounds, blues, etc., its not about using that scale/arpeggio on that chord
i use this program called Transcribe! daily to learn from the masters
#6
^ I don't think you necessarily have to transcribe it, just listen to your favourite players a lot.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#7
The more licks you transcribe, the bigger your vocabulary. Then you can say what you like and put your own spin on things. Books are good for focused practice and theory but they are definitely secondary. Its basically like learning a language and reading poetry or giving a speech. You don't do it monotone. Its also " how you say " it is called phrasing.
#9
Quote by cxrlxscr
I want books that explore improvisation on depth, especially blues. This is all very important to me as I will be applying to a very respected college of music next year and transfer from my current uni. The good news is that I'm all good in my technique and theory, I just need something to combine both, if you want to put it that way.


Why do you want to go to a respected music college? What do you think this will accomplish?

It just seems odd that someone who doesn't know how to improvise would want to study music seriously, when they didn't want to study it for fun in the first place.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#10
i just do not understand what is so hard about improving the best way to start improvising is well to improvise A LOT, stop being such a try hard and just play and experiment let yourself go and you'll find your voice, also record yourself a lot and be brutally honest with yourself. Listen to a lot of music experiment with that little voice in your head that goes be do bah dah and ****ing play man use all u know now and have fun it is just music.
#11
oh geez, if you haven't been practicing your scales I'd hedge your bets on getting into that "respected college of music". Not to offend, but they're gonna ask for stuff like that in an audition. Can you play two octaves of B major in 2nd position? Can you play a ii-V-I in Eb? What classical or jazz tunes can you perform?

Anyway, your improv, like everything else, hinges on 1) your ears 2) your knowledge, and 3) your technique.

Learn your chords, scales, and arpeggios in every key. Make sure you can apply all your techniques to them. Work on rhythm incessantly - always count! Sit down with recordings and just play. Intentionally use your knowledge when you play.

Most importantly, use your ears to absorb music. Hear, imitate, elaborate, and create.
#12
Quote by cxrlxscr
I've playing guitar for ~7 years and studying music theory formally for the last 2 years. In that time, I never bothered to sit down and learn improvisation. When I started out, I never understood when people told me to "practice your scales". So now, I admit I feel like a mediocre player without what I consider a basic skill.

Anyway. Right now, as a musician, I think learning to improvise is of uttermost importance. I need good resources on improvisation, and I mean beyond UG's lessons. I want books that explore improvisation on depth, especially blues. This is all very important to me as I will be applying to a very respected college of music next year and transfer from my current uni. The good news is that I'm all good in my technique and theory, I just need something to combine both, if you want to put it that way.

tl;dr suggest good books that teach improvisation for a ****** who didn't bother to learn in 7 years of playing

just take what you know and start playing. improvise every day. i recently threw away my practice routine. now i do a quick warm up with some exercises, then i just start playing. ill go over scales and patterns and just try to come up with melodic and rhythmic patterns, like going up 4 notes, then back to the 3rd not and then up 4, or whatever number you want, i usually do 3's, 4's, 6's and sometimes 5s and then i also have melodic patterns i've come up with. try and take a lick and move it around to other areas and notes on the neck. try thinking like a drummer doing drum fills but add notes to them. try to come up with some rolling drum fills with different rhythmic patterns but with notes. it will probably sound better than just cramming in notes. that can work, but if that's all you do it gets boring. rhythm keeps people interested.

i also try to find intervals and arpeggios and chord tones to play around with. go on youtube and find some good backing tracks. i find the jazz funk ones are pretty good. try to find one that doesn't change much for a while. i've seen some that are a 15 min vamp. that's great for just trying things out. usually i'll play alone a bit before jamming. i think it's good to just play by yourself. i feel it helps let you get that mind body connection because you are just playing whatever comes to your head.

another thing i'll do is put on the radio or songs i like and try to figure them out by ear. sometimes if i have a guitar at a party, i'll pick it up and play whatever is on the stereo. it's kind of a party trick i guess but i honestly just like doing it. i love playing anyway, then i also try to make my own parts that fit in the mix, and then add my own fills and solos. i used to do that all the time because i had no backing tracks. if you can get a loop pedal or a recorder of some sort, making something to jam over is cool too. loop pedals are cool too if you want to loop a phrase and then work on harmonizing.

the most important thing about playing an instrument is, well playing music. if you spend all your time "practicing", whats the point? learn techniques and patterns to a point you can use them musically, and then start using them musically. besides, if all you do is practice different patterns, that's all your playing will sound like. patterns are good, don't get me wrong, but i find when i focus more on playing rather than practicing, my phrases sound less methodical and planned out.

one thing i do is try taking just 2 or 3 strings at a time. go over as many ways as you can going through those notes. different melodic patterns, rhythmic patterns, bends, slides, trills, anything you can think of. then move on to the next strings and try to do the same stuff and maybe try new things. then work on connecting those string groups together, and eventually all of the strings. the focus is to be free on the fret board and not bound by scale patterns we already know. we can use them, but we should be able to mix and match at will. you'll probably need to slow down at first. you can do this alone, with a metronome if you want or over a song.

sometimes setting restrictions for yourself as an experiment can improve your playing a lot. like i talked about with sticking to a few strings at first. maybe try just one string and see what you can do. maybe try to only use chord tones or only double stops or legato, or force yourself to use a position you aren't good at, etc...

IMO, this kind of practice is far more useful especially after playing a while like you because it keeps things fresh and interesting and fun so you'll want to practice more. you still need to focus on technique, but try to keep things loose and open. you really can't practice everything every day. it's better i think to just go with what you are feeling. try to get excited, listen to jam tracks, WATCH and listen to good improvisers A LOT, find lessons online or in magazines or on youtube and try to learn something from everyone. there are only 12 notes, it's how you play them that changes it. maybe you don't like bluegrass or something, but you could probably find some useful ideas you could use in another context. listen to other instruments as well and try to "steal" their sound or phrasing ideas. good improvisers usually listen to a lot of different music and listen often. this also helps develop your sound or style. the more people your steal from, the better. your goal is to be as musically free as possible so the more ideas you steal, the better you know your instrument, the better you can improvise.

one LAST tip that i'll say is optional is to learn slide guitar in standard tuning. why? well i found it really improved my fret board use for one. it forces you to move around more because you aren't fretting notes. i do fret behind the slide for some chord things though. it also helped with my muting. it really forced me to see the whole neck as one big scale rather than box shapes. sometimes i still get lost and it forces me to think fast, use my ear, and "get back" without letting people know i'm lost :P but i say it's optional because i think you have to like slide first of all. if it's not for you, then it's not for you. there are other ways of being free on the board without slide, but i personally find it helps. it also opens you up to knew sounds and ideas you wouldn't or couldn't do without the slide.


hope that helps, hope it wasn't too long :P
#13
Hi. You want to learn improvisation. Scales and arpeggios and licks are only some tools that will help to improvise.
But what is improvisation? basically it's the ability to play notes that relates to the song chords in a musical way and with good time and sound.
for that- first of all you have to master the song form. Always "know" where you are.
Learning the song you are going to improvise over is a very important subject that a lot of players skip. But if you won't, it will be much easier for you to improvise.

What does learning a song involve? Basically:
1) Learning the melody
2) Learning the chords
Learning the melody:
You can play the melody in one position, in one octave. But you can also play it in various positions, in at least two octaves, so it won’t matter where you are on the fingerboard at a given moment; the melody will always be available to you.
Find new ways to play the melody. Try new positions, start at a different string. Change the octave. The highest level in playing the melody is to get to a point that no matter where you are on the fingerboard at a given moment the melody will always be available to you. I know that it’s hard to reach this level. But every moment you practice playing the melody is blessed. It improves your ear and your familiarity with the fingerboard at the same time.


Learning the chords:
You can play the chords in one position, always playing each chord in the same fingering. But you can also play the chords in various positions, starting from a different root each time, adding a different tension each time, so that your chord playing itself will be a kind of improvisation.
Try to play accompaniment to the song using all the chord shapes you know. Improvise with the chords according to your skills.

Then start to Improvise over the melody. Create your own way of playing the melody and it will be much easier for you to use the scales and arpeggios you know over each chord in a musical way.

Ahh... a good book is the advanced guitarist by mick goodrick

Good luck!
Yaakov Hoter from Gypsyjazzschool.com
#14
My best advice for learning improv is to get some good jam tracks that show you the chord progression and the scale to play over it. When playing the scale over the tracks make sure to follow the chord changes by moving to an appropriate note for each chord. An appropriate note would usually be a note that is in the chord being played.
#15
Quote by Sickz


1) Learn tunes you like by ear, sing what you play to connect your ear to your instrument.
2) Learn to recognize intervals by ear
3) Practice "singing -> playing" improv. What i mean is sing an idea, then try to find it on the guitar. Lay down different chords/chord progressions and do this.

You want to do this because with a good ear you can improvise over anything, regardless of what key it is in. I have had friends that are amazing improvisers that failed getting into college for music, cause they couldn't pass the improvisation test cause they didn't know which key they were in before they started playing.

Improvisation is aiming to achive the ability to play what you hear in your head on your instrument, too many players allow their instruments to play them.

.


This is great advice. You should also be practicing scales to metronome - take the same pattern and play it in whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, triplets etc. Do this for a few minutes each day for a while until you really interiorise the differences. Good improvisation is as much about the rhythms you use as the notes that are played. If you play a bunch of terrible notes with conviction and good timing, it won't sound that bad...

I would suggest you start learning some blues by ear - that's the easiest place to start improvising. Also - listen to music that has actual improvised solos in it - blues and jazz.