#1
Hey, Im slowly getting to terms with music theory but i've always wondered, lets say you're jamming with someone and suddenly they come up with a rhythmic piece that you have to solo over. If you don't know the chords of the piece or the key since its a spontaneous piece, how exactly do you effectively improvise over it? Do you keep messing around until you find a minor scale that fits or?
#2
If you don't know the chords then you better have a good ear. You don't want to aimlessly noodle around if you are playing with people (maybe you do, I don't know). But if you are trying to synch up with one another, learn some theory and do try to play songs you like by ear. It takes time and effort so don't get discouraged.
#3
Which kind of theory should I practice? Like scales and modes? Thank you for answering I've just noticed that alot of great players seem to be able to improvise over anything as soon as they hear it, with me for example if its a minor chord progression I have to see where the minor scale is and from there use all my 3 note per string scales and stuff, which takes a bit of time haha
#4
It's all inter-related pretty much. Chords are built off of scales. There are quite a few scales, the most common being the major, minor and pentatonic (which coincidentally all use the same notes if it is the relative major-minor). But I don't want to over complicate things right now. Start with learning the major scale, have it memorized. I would recommend andrew wasson's lessons on youtube. Just type creative guitar studio in the search bar and look for his lessons on the major scale. Once you have major scale down, learn the minor scale and pentatonic scale. Learn how to construct basic chords. Once you have all of these down you can move on to more complicated matters.
Last edited by tyle12 at Apr 3, 2014,
#6
A bit of advice: Do NOT bother with modes until you've learned a lot more theory. Way too many young musicians have gotten the wrong idea about modes, how they work, how to use them, etc. ...all because they rushed to "learning" modes without having a good theory foundation.

I second starting with major scale.
#7
Probably a bit left field, I play bass not guitar, but unless you are way ahead of me and playing a lot of jazz based stuff I'll risk looking stupid.

Even the most amazing sounding solos seem to be over very simple repetitive chord sequences, often over a single pentatonic or blues scale, ie no chord changes at all.

Most improvisation isn't improvised, it's worked on by people who play together regularly.

Even great guitarists have a 'style', that is they repeat patterns and their playing when improvising is littered with experiments that only half work when they wander off piste. (didn't know the bassist was listening did you?)

When you are soloing it is your bit of the song, your chance to shine, bass and drums are only there to make you sound good, they should be following you and keeping it solid for you, not jumping to chords you aren't expecting. As a bassist I'll flag up any new chord changes by playing a run up or down to the new root note. I'll run back to the original chord if no-one follows. If I end up chasing a chord sequence the soloist can't follow then I'm the one to blame not the soloist.

KISS (Keep it simple stupid)

This was the lesson that unlocked the whole thing for me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJNq4GVoy5I
#8
Before I had a good enough ear for it, I would try to find one note that sounded alright. Even if it sounded good only at that one spot (in terms of a progression) and would come back to it once the progression came round again, then you just try finding other notes around the one you already "found" and incorporate them too.

Since you are just getting into theory and improvising, one of the main things I feel people get stuck with is playing the hardest/coolest/most musically masturbatory lick of all time at all times. Many people forget they are actually playing music. Whatever you're playing, play what you hear.
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#11
Learn what notes in a key sound like. like what does the "1/tonic" sound like, blabla. Then youll learn to recognize these and therefore need no information other then what you hear, do the same with chords
#12
Quote by unbornsea1
Hey, Im slowly getting to terms with music theory but i've always wondered, lets say you're jamming with someone and suddenly they come up with a rhythmic piece that you have to solo over. If you don't know the chords of the piece or the key since its a spontaneous piece, how exactly do you effectively improvise over it? Do you keep messing around until you find a minor scale that fits or?


You use your ears.

One of the key aspects of improvising is to NOT play until you have an idea: something you hear in your head that you think will sound good.

This is one of the hardest things for inexperienced musicians to do. They want to play! But you'll notice that more experienced musicians, when presented with something new, often don't play right away. They listen. They're not just listening to the chords ... they're listening to that voice inside their head to tell them what to play.

(Often when they do start playing right away, they play something very safe, just sort of comping around the chords, filling them out a bit, while listening for that inner voice).

You need to develop your functional ear to be able to hear the tonic, and finding the key should be relatively easy. (The functional ear trainer, a free download from miles.be, will help).

Very few great musicians approach things intellectually, eg, their inner voice doesn't "I'll start with a harmonic minor and move into phrygian." It's more the inner voice goes "bee doo bee wee WAAAA!". Of course it's not quite literally hearing the notes in your head, rather, its that there's a sound in your head that you want to hear. Trust me, you'll know it when it happens.
#13
Quote by Phil Starr
Even the most amazing sounding solos seem to be over very simple repetitive chord sequences, often over a single pentatonic or blues scale, ie no chord changes at all.

Not to be an ass or anything, but I would say it's the reverse. So...it should be:

"Even the most amazing sounding solos seem to be over very simple repetitive chord sequences, often over 3 or 4 chords, sometimes only 1 or 2 chords".


It's just that keys > scales. What I mean by that is that the tonic (the "I") of your chord progression determines the key. (Note: the tonic is NOT always, but tends to be, the first chord in rock music. This guideline is broken again and again, though.) So, the key of Gmajor means that Gmajor is the tonic. Regardless of the scale used, the key will stay Gmajor. In terms of simple rock songs, the tendency is generally to play something like Gmajor pentatonic or Gminor pentatonic over a progression in the key of Gmajor.

Analyze, for example, a lot of Jimi Hendrix's solos. Hendrix was a fan of the old blues progressions. So...he used edited versions of the 12-bar blues a lot. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12-bar_blues) Or, the Rolling Stones would sometimes used extended versions of the 12-bar blues idea, where everything would go by a 16-bar repetition.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Apr 4, 2014,