Good, that's enough for improvisation purposes. I would use that knowledge and apply it to your playing.
For example, a scenario like this chord progression looped: Dm - E7 - Am
Would you be able to tell me the following:
1. What key this would be? 2. What scale(s) could be used. And I really hate that question, because there is never just one answer, the answer should be "play any appropriate notes based on context". But for our purposes, basically what I'm asking is, at a first glance, and in general, what scales would be fitting here? 3. If there is a dominant present, which one is it, and what is it's function? 4. What are the notes of each chord? 5. What chromatic notes or passing notes would you use that come to mind instantly, and why? In between what notes would you use them?
This is just a few of the types of questions you should be asking yourself before/during/after improvisation. If this takes time for you to answer, don't worry, it will eventually come naturally to you, and you will be able to answer it without an instrument in your hand.
Think of it like this. Without theory knowledge, you have the pages of a book all out of order, and you're constantly searching through them for information. But knowing theory, the pages of the book are bound, and all in order.
I don't think there's such thing as a "correct approach", but I don't think it's the most useful one to you as a musician in the long run. It is much more prosperous to you to know the notes by name, so you can have a system of identifying them, and later matching them up with the appropriate harmony and other useful information.
Analyzing the notes to find out the key is a good skill, and you will eventually be able to do it on the run, or just by looking at a chord progression or score, without having to play it.
Sounds like you're pretty close. I would really recommend learning the notes though.
When you say you have a basic understanding of theory, what does that cover?
In all fairness, though, hearing things in your head and being able to play them out is an acquired skill for most people, like relative pitch. But definitely learn as much theory as you can, it will help you understand what you are playing, and why you're playing it, why things sound the way they do, and potential next moves in your playing.
The solution is to learn all of the notes on the fretboard and be able to recall them without having to rely on patterns. Improvisation is much more successful when you are in control. Know what notes you're playing, over what chords, in what key.
I recommend watching Marty Friedman's Melodic Control. Very helpful in all aspects of improvisation. Must watch.
Quit the shredding until you can play slowly well. You're just spamming notes really fast from scale patterns.
I would say you need to work on playing MELODIES instead of shredding scales fast. Your technical skills are not sufficient for playing that fast and sounding good at the same time either.
Pay attention to the notes you are playing. Know the underlying chord progression and try to target chord tones (obviously not only those all the time), etc. Use your ears instead of just playing memorized scale patterns really fast.
I was talking about your first link here.
This is well said, kinda what I was trying to say.
TS, maybe play some rhythm guitar to get into a habit of paying attention to time?
Do your best to identify the time signature, characteristic first beat, and common note values used in a song. After that it's mostly a counting game, how many notes per beat, etc.
On the other hand, after I heard the tracks, I was pleasantly surprised. You seem to know what you're doing. It sounded well organized in time, even with the occasional syncopation thrown in for flavor.
The second track seemed to sound like you were struggling a bit with it, but barely. Like I said, the easiest way to stay in time is to count along with the music, whether its tapping your foot or counting out loud. Always be aware of where the first beat falls, so you can act accordingly.
I think it was really good. Your technique is good. I would study up on syncopation, and practice some phrases and eventually make it a part of your everyday go-to playing style for more variety.
EDIT: I would suggest if you want to work on timing, play to slow backing tracks. The slower the better. I can tell your style is "shreddy", so playing over a slow backing track will force you to contemplate timing more than if you were playing over something fast, which is something you're used to apparently. And I'm not saying don't play fast. Keep playing fast, but really take note of what beat you're on, and really do your best to emphasize the tempo with nothing but your playing by using stresses and dynamics and whatnot.
Etudes are easy enough to find on your own. I'd get a book of them and just find something that suits your style and you're good to go.
Also, when you say standard repertoire, what does that include/exclude? I also did these auditions at several universities and colleges, I think I'd be of some help if you provided a bit more info on what pieces are available to you.
The famous classical guitar Paganini Romance got me acceptance into several schools. It sounds really good, and is kind of a benchmark of classical playing (at least among institution-applying musicians). Also very versatile in exhibiting both feeling and technique in one piece.
modality is a harmonic concept, not a scalar one. Usually when you're changing chords in a semi-melodic fashion, such as using the circle of 5ths, you need to play to the chords as they change. Modal music usually has more static harmony, and you can use any note in the mode at any time.
Very general description, but hopefully you get the idea.
Several ways to do this are to embellish chords to a ridiculous extent. Use a static, dysfunctional harmony. Most likely a vamp of two chords, back and forth. I'd personally stay away from any kind of benchmark major traits, or general concepts of functional harmony such as the overuse of the dominant. The two (Inonian and Major) are almost alike, and I'll catch controversy for this, but it's kind of the same situation as comparing 3/4 time and 6/8 time. Can they sound very similar? Yes. Are they? No. There are small differences that you have to listen for, but they are definitely there.
It's all about the harmony. Think of the main idea of modes as texture and color, while the main idea behind tonal music as tension and resolution.
It would be more than fair to come prepared and rehearsed.
Do your best to not be nervous. Think of it like "Well, I'm already up here, I can't leave, I might as well blow em away." It's not a big deal once you're on stage a few times.
Do you know what kind of progression you'll be improvising over? If you do, you shouldn't leave anything to chance and pretty much compose something. It's still going to be your material, no one can tell you anything.
If the improvisation backing track is a surprise, I would try to: 1. Predict the style of it based on your judges choices in music, etc 2. Practice the most common guitar-friendly keys Em, Am, etc. 3. Cover both minor and major scenarios. 4. It'll most likely be some kind of pentatonic related piece.
Can't really think of anything else, but good luck.
Merks, you should not only learn the minor scales, but learn the subtle differences between them, their uses in harmony, and along with that, obviously knowing the notes of the fretboard on command is a huge plus. Knowing them without the aid of "patterns" is an even bigger plus, imo. To me, the only help patterns ever gave me were only for technical purposes like speed and accuracy practicing.
To truly be a master of improvisation, you must be aware of what is going on in all 3 levels of music. Rhythm, melody, and harmony.
Rhythm comes pretty naturally to most people, but if it doesn't, practice your phrasing until you are confident that you can, say, play over the same progression for a few minutes and produce something new in each loop. If you find yourself being overly repetitive, work on fixing it.
The melody you shred should essentially be based on the harmony underneath it. When you are playing a solo, it is important to know what chord progression you are playing over, and what chord is currently being played, so you can exploit it to the best of your abilities. Learn about different note functions, this involves lots of theory. Theory will not limit your creativity, contrary to popular statement around here, it will help you word your musical ideas better, and understand those ideas on a different level(s). There is always a reason to play any note, at any time, but it is up to you to find those notes, and know when to play them. And I think most MT regulars will back me up on that.
Soloing is an art like any other, and art is free of perfection. You can always get better, so keep practicing and studying. Good luck!
^Well I would suggest the opposite conclusion: there is NO harmonic "function" so don't even worry about it. Just treat it as two chords and examine and explore the relationship in anyway you see fit.
It's a two chord vamp. There is a lack of harmonic movement required for one chord or the other to really function as a dominant.
You could call the vamp a dominant tonic or subdominant tonic vamp, but these names would refer more to the scale degree on which the chords are built as opposed to any harmonic function.
It is simply an oscillation between two chords with no clear sense of tonic.
I agree. I'd say it's subjective at this point, and really up to the ear to decide is what I kinda meant.
But I also think what the TS was getting at in the OP was that as the majority of theory-knowers are classically trained, we are taught to kind of identify the dominant and tonic in any chord progression we see first to figure out the key, and then the rest of the chords.
Personally, when I see E/A, I picture V/I first, because it's a more stable, standalone option than I/IV.
EDIT: Basically, when I said "identify the function", I meant that it's open to free interpretation.