Here are some widely accepted rules you should remember when improvising. Select 1 or 2 rules for each
practice session to concentrate on. After a while, these principles will become automatic.
For practice, it is best to lay down some tracks to improvise over. Record the chords of a song you
are familiar with, or play a 12 bar blues progression. If you are having trouble keeping a tempo or
making the changes, slow down. It is very important that you be able to lay your own tracks before
getting a play along CD. The ‘feel’ of when to change during the solo improv session will be built
on the foundation of your familiarization with how the changes ‘feel’. You will learn this best by
learning where you fingers go on the chords. In fact, if you play the chords well, you will soon be
able to play arpeggios because your fingers will already know where to go!
This small essay does not discuss Melodic Development – that is big enough for its own discussion.
- Do not start every phrase in the low register and move upward in the scale. Include downward and
midpoint beginnings to each phrase.
- Do not play in the same register (area of the fingerboard). Choose positions that are new to you
and may be uncomfortable. Hammers and pulls take on an especially interesting sound when you do
them where other guitarist don’t (or can’t). Start low and work high – start high and work low.
Doing this you will discover abilities and sounds that will be very satisfying to you, and to other
listeners too. Al DiMeola and Jesse Cook are good models for using the whole range of the guitar
in their solos.
- Memorize the scales you intend to use. Once you have the scales memorized, you will be free to
work on dynamics, phrasing, and introducing new ideas and sounds. If you do not know the scales,
then all of your time will be spent trying to figure out the next note in the key. Memorization
will bring security, confidence, freedom, and music.
- Include a lot of different dynamics. Rock (and its derivatives) fall into the rut of playing
loud, louder, and loudest. Eventually, the listener falls asleep with boredom. Musicians have
known this for hundreds of years. Remember the last time you listened to classical music, which
just about put you to sleep and suddenly it jolted you out of your skin? Use lots of dynamics
in your music and it may be played 300 years from now too.
- Don’t staccato or legato the whole solo, or even large portions of it. Mix up your articulations
and try different combinations. Listen to the masters (those whose music has been around more
than 20 years) and try to play their style. There is a reason their music has lasted – it is
pleasing to hear.
- Concentrate on hearing mentally every note BEFORE you play it. This requires constant attention.
Otherwise everything you play will just be an accident. This will also help you develop an inner
since of pitch, which will help you when making larger steps during your solo. Some great teachers
insist that the student sing with the mouth the solo as they play. There is great value to this,
and you can often see soloist doing this by watching the expressions on their face while they play.
The solo is being sung with the voice, but they keep the mouth closed.
- Listen to yourself - EVERY NOTE!
- Always make your notes have a since of direction. Work in tension and release, and remember that
every note is a part of a bigger musical idea. Don’t just string together a bunch of licks.
If you have been improvising a while, you are probably reading this because you are sick of
chaining licks together and want to play some real music. Include pauses and silence in your
solo. Think of the impact if your solo went bump ditty bump bump, but there was no bump bump
answer! The answer is satisfying, but the silence is much louder.
- Record and listen to yourself. Do you like what you are hearing? Are you always late on the
changes, or miss them altogether? Does your solo tell a ‘story’, is there a start, a middle,
and an end?
- Take private lessons from the best teacher you can afford.
- Listen to lots of music and try to copy the sound of what you are hearing. Music can come from
the radio, CD, TV, or anywhere. Don’t limit the music to guitar – try to sound like a trumpet,
and saxophone, even bagpipes!
- Always play the best instrument you can afford. A guitar that is easy to play will make a lot
more difference than you might think. A guitar that sounds great will inspire you to play it
to its potential. A poor sounding guitar will always sound poor.
| » Review posted by engr24gian on Tuesday, Jun. 5, 2012 @ 11:25 PM
| » Review posted by billycat1965 on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 @ 7:49 PM
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