is it possible to just sit and practice to find out what notes go with what and how to improvise well without any sort of theory or lessons behind it?
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Scales help mostly. It's possible, but music note theory helps.
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Learn theory. Well, I guess you could do it without theory, but why waste time when you could just learn and benefit from it instead of trying to learn from the very beginning?
i think i know what your getting at. Thats pretty much how i learnt improvisation.

I used to play ALOT of iron maiden, esp dave murray, and alot of his solos were in E minor pentatonic (so help me god if i'm wrong- i don't remember), however i didn't know about any scales. Just how to play them

I then played a lot of tool in drop d, and discover in songs like "cold and ugly" the solos were down a step from dave murrays. hence, i figured out it must have a been different scale i.e D minor pentatonic

Moral: take lessons. thats what i did. i dsicovered octaves and playing scales in different places, but in the same key. it is actually quite easy, but make sure you get yourself a decent teacher.
Just play around in a scale(s) and you'll find out what sounds good with itself. My teacher says it's not necessarily something that can be taught, it's something that you'll just eventually learn. you'll be finding cool licks and all that and develop your own style eventually. Might take a while though,
Hendrix did it.

But he could do anything (besides walk a straight line), so IDK if that counts.

I know the minimum of theory...

I don't improvise...

I just write it beforehand....

I kind of use a "trial and error" approach to writing. It works for me.
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What I would do is learn a key like A minor or D major. Learn what chords and scales are in that key. Improvise in that key working out what works and what don't. Pentatonics (5 notes) are the easiest and the two notes of the scale that are omitted from the pents (half steps) can be used as fills. Learning the modes helps as playing positions on the fretboard.

Take a look at the caged system.

EDIT: I forgot to add that what you learned in a key applies to other keys. That way you can modulate to a new key like going from E minor to A minor or B minor and play the same thing.
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Last edited by OldRocker at Mar 17, 2007,