#1
Hello people,

I have a question on improvising solos.

How do you know when your improv is up to scratch?

Is there a definitive way to say "Oh, that guy can really improvise well" or"That guy can't improvise at all"?

You could learn a solo and when you can play the solo perfectly and cleanly, you can "play" the solo. It's not the same for improv, I know. But is there a way to rate improvising skills?
#2
everyones improvising is different, personally I'd say you can improvise to a good standard when you know what chords you're playing over and you can play the correct notes in correspondence to the chords. What makes a 'good' improviser is someone can create good melodies off the top of their heads and be able to follow the dynamics of the rest of the band. Also not constantly relying on the same licks over and over again, constantly coming up with new melodic ideas are key to improvising!
#3
Quote by darrenram1
Hello people,

I have a question on improvising solos.

How do you know when your improv is up to scratch?

Is there a definitive way to say "Oh, that guy can really improvise well" or"That guy can't improvise at all"?

You could learn a solo and when you can play the solo perfectly and cleanly, you can "play" the solo. It's not the same for improv, I know. But is there a way to rate improvising skills?


It's a matter of artistic preference to some degree. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a great blues improviser ( listen to his epic version of little wing...it doesn't get any better than that). John Scofield is incredible at jazz/funk. Julian Lage is a amazing at acoustic gypsy jazz styles ( and every other conceivable style). Bill Frisell is one my favorites - he has great phrasing and tends to let notes ring out longer than most which creates a great atmosphere.

Being good at improvising means being able to play something musical that really fits a given tune on the spot, that isn't just a complete generic re-hashing of learned patterns. In my view, a bad improviser typically plays lines that don't outline or follow the chord changes and it sounds like they are simply playing set patterns over the whole progression, irrespective of the song, the melody etc.

You know when your improv is up to scratch when you're not boring yourself with your own improv and you're actually surprising yourself on a given solo. Rhythm is particularly important with improvisation and is often overlooked - all the players I named are experts at playing their solos in the pocket. You can play complete gibberish notes as long as you're playing them with rhythmic authority.

here are a few tricks for improving your improvising ability:

1) learn solos and vocal melodies on guitar by ear. Practicing singing these in your head or out loud.
2) always learn the melody ( vocal or instrumental) on the guitar - this has a way of creeping into your phrasing and making things sound better - it increases the chances that you'll be playing something relevant to the actual song rather than just a random bunch of notes. As a general rule, if I have the time, I do this for every tune that I need to perform.
3) practice scales with a metronome and play the same pattern in whole notes then switch to half notes then switch the quarter notes then switch to triplets etc. Do this a few minutes each day for a little while. It has a way of facilitating rhythmic diversity in your lines when improvising solos.
4) Don't be afraid to take chances - good improv means surprises - you need to take musical risks to be a exciting player. Don't be afraid to just venture into the unknown in a solo to see where it will take you.
#4
Quote by reverb66
It's a matter of artistic preference to some degree. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a great blues improviser ( listen to his epic version of little wing...it doesn't get any better than that). John Scofield is incredible at jazz/funk. Julian Lage is a amazing at acoustic gypsy jazz styles ( and every other conceivable style). Bill Frisell is one my favorites - he has great phrasing and tends to let notes ring out longer than most which creates a great atmosphere.

Being good at improvising means being able to play something musical that really fits a given tune on the spot, that isn't just a complete generic re-hashing of learned patterns. In my view, a bad improviser typically plays lines that don't outline or follow the chord changes and it sounds like they are simply playing set patterns over the whole progression, irrespective of the song, the melody etc.

You know when your improv is up to scratch when you're not boring yourself with your own improv and you're actually surprising yourself on a given solo. Rhythm is particularly important with improvisation and is often overlooked - all the players I named are experts at playing their solos in the pocket. You can play complete gibberish notes as long as you're playing them with rhythmic authority.

here are a few tricks for improving your improvising ability:

1) learn solos and vocal melodies on guitar by ear. Practicing singing these in your head or out loud.
2) always learn the melody ( vocal or instrumental) on the guitar - this has a way of creeping into your phrasing and making things sound better - it increases the chances that you'll be playing something relevant to the actual song rather than just a random bunch of notes. As a general rule, if I have the time, I do this for every tune that I need to perform.
3) practice scales with a metronome and play the same pattern in whole notes then switch to half notes then switch the quarter notes then switch to triplets etc. Do this a few minutes each day for a little while. It has a way of facilitating rhythmic diversity in your lines when improvising solos.
4) Don't be afraid to take chances - good improv means surprises - you need to take musical risks to be a exciting player. Don't be afraid to just venture into the unknown in a solo to see where it will take you.



This is a solid post. I bolded the rhythm part because it is EXTREMELY overlooked when it comes to soloing.
#5
Quote by wheelz1045
This is a solid post. I bolded the rhythm part because it is EXTREMELY overlooked when it comes to soloing.

Bingo

Rhythm is what separates one guitar player from another.
We can all play the left hand part with practice. But unless you pick the way your inspiration does, you'll never get the sound you are after.

Right hand, the one we ignore and THE difference between us.
#6
The most important thing is confindence. If you can play something with good confindence, it sounds a lot better. But if the audience can hear that you are guessing, it's not good. Just play and don't pay too much attention to mistakes. If you feel like you played the wrong note, play it again. That works and may also give you new ideas.

Good improvisers can play what they want. They feel the music inside of them and just play what they feel. They don't play random notes, they know what they are doing (and not just playing inside of this and this scale, it's more than that - they know the sound they are after and can play it). Of course you can't know if the musician can do this. But if you can do it, at least you can be sure that you will be satisfied with what you play - because that way you just play what you feel and isn't that really the point of improvising?
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#7
Quote by darrenram1

I have a question on improvising solos.

How do you know when your improv is up to scratch?

Is there a definitive way to say "Oh, that guy can really improvise well" or"That guy can't improvise at all"?

You could learn a solo and when you can play the solo perfectly and cleanly, you can "play" the solo. It's not the same for improv, I know. But is there a way to rate improvising skills?


To me, it's about things like this:

Is the musician listening to what the other players are doing? Does his playing reflect that? Is he commenting in some way on the established melodies of the song? Does his solo tell a story?

Or, alternatively, does it just sound like he's moving his fingers around in a shape and throwing in some technical licks?

It's usually pretty easy to tell. Guitarists have a reputation for not listening, and playing by finger rather than being part of an ensemble. Even when the spotlight is on you, you are part of a band, which is playing a song.

Beyond that, yes, some musicians have better technical skills, and some have different tastes, but I can listen to someone with mediocre technical skills who isn't the type of musician that I love and recognize that he's doing interesting things, even if his playing doesn't speak to me.
#9
Yes, I think someone is a good improviser when they show an uncanny knack for nailing the right chord tones in their phrasing and accenting the important points of the melody. They'd have a sense for creating a theme and building upon it intelligently Usually playing sounds on point when it acknowledges the chord changes in some way. Changes that a listener could feel, even if the chord wasn't present.

Most people cannot do that. They can overlay licks and superimpose scales and fragments, over a key, without any sense of how it connects with the chord they are on at that moment. So, in my view, that's the mark of a good improvisor.


Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at May 16, 2014,
#11
Quote by Sean0913
Yes, I think someone is a good improviser when they show an uncanny knack for nailing the right chord tones in their phrasing and accenting the important points of the melody. They'd have a sense for creating a theme and building upon it intelligently Usually playing sounds on point when it acknowledges the chord changes in some way. Changes that a listener could feel, even if the chord wasn't present.

Most people cannot do that. They can overlay licks and superimpose scales and fragments, over a key, without any sense of how it connects with the chord they are on at that moment. So, in my view, that's the mark of a good improvisor.


Best,

Sean


Yeah.

Or even more simply- if it sounds really good, and doesn't even really sound like they're improvising.
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