Improvising Tips and Tricks Part 1 with Chris Zoupa

author: Chris Zoupa date: 04/03/2014 category: soloing

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Improvising Tips and Tricks Part 1 with Chris Zoupa
Hey guys. Lately I've been dealing a lot with students wanting to improve their improvisation. The common complaint has been "I just stay in the same pentatonic box and it sounds boring." I completely understand this helplessness as improvisation was never properly taught to me… However I want to plant some seeds to zazz up your approach and playing to improv and jamming.

Firstly, this might sound strange but I want to stay in the box (the most common shape of the minor pentatonic) today… What we're going to do is add an arpeggio and a diatonic scale within or near "the box" and that'll add variance to what we're doing, but still be within a box or area.

Most Common Minor Pentatonic Box Shape


Pentatonic w/blue notes (flat 5/b5)


D Mixolydian Shape (Relative to "E" Natural Minor/"E" Aeolian) 


E minor Arpeggios


Jumping from and between these ideas instantaneously adds intervalic variance… In layman's terms the space between the notes changes from scale to scale (Pentatonic to diatonic or Arpeggio to pentatonic etc). Let's look at what makes up all the scales and how they look in relation to the diatonic scale.
  • Em Diatonic scale: E F# G A B C D (1 2 3 4 5 6 7)
  • Em Penatonic scale: E G A B D (1 3 4 5 7)
  • Em Arpeggio: E G B (1 3 5)
Here's a link to a jam track in "E" Minor.

Have fun with it guys and check out my YouTube tutorial too!


By Chris Zoupa
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