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  #46  
Old 02-02-2023, 07:59 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
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Originally Posted by Andyrondack View Post
Some people have a very negative attitude to teaching any process or methodology to help students improvise, they seem to believe that the concious brain should have no place in making music , I learned long ago to despise such attitudes.

Yeah, those opinions come from a very uninformed space, and just need to be discounted.

If you want to remove scales, chords, theoretical knowledge completely, then at a bare minimum a player needs a tremendous ear and the ability to translate what they are hearing to the instrument. That simply takes a lot of work. There's no way around the work.

I have seen people who "freely" improvise with nothing else going into it other than what they feel in the moment. There's nothing wrong with this, but these people cannot improvise well outside of this environment. Their freedom is surprisingly limiting.

A lot of people who think they have a good ear are dead in the water as soon as a song throws a non-diatonic chord change at them.

There's just no way around the hard work.
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  #47  
Old 02-02-2023, 04:58 PM
CharlieBman CharlieBman is offline
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I've been playing improvisationally for so long I don't even have to think of it. My hands and fingers just know where to go to get out what I'm feeling. Actually, I'm playing my best when I'm thinking about nothing. But I'm a self-taught musician who's been playing for nearly 60 years. Beyond learning the basics of chording, most of my technique or mechanics of how I play has come from first hearing something in my head and then working to reproduce it on the guitar. So the basis of how I learned just sort of set me on a life-long course of improvisational playing.

The key in my opinion is the "feeling". You first have to feel something, not think it, and then have the ability to express it on your instrument. Your mind is still engaged, but functions more of a technical guide when you need it. I would recommend starting out with just improvising a few notes, but feel those notes deeply, and you might be surprised where it takes you.
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  #48  
Old 02-03-2023, 08:52 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Andyrondack View Post
Some people have a very negative attitude to teaching any process or methodology to help students improvise, they seem to believe that the concious brain should have no place in making music , I learned long ago to despise such attitudes.
Quite. Only an idiot would suggest anyone can improvise - to any musically acceptable level - before learning a lot stuff consciously.

I mean, when I say anyone can improvise from the beginning, I don't mean improvise well! I mean, play around, make stuff up.

A 4-year-old kid sat at a piano will "improvise". We'll just (probably) think it will sound like a lot of meaningless noise! That's because the kid has no vocabulary yet. They just like the noise.

But that's still an important principle to carry forward into one's teens or later - whenever one begins learning "proper technique" on an instrument. It's important to play with the same attitude as the child, at least some of the time. To feel free enough to do that, and not be scared that one isn't "good enough" yet.

The advantage you have at that age (which the 4-year-old doesn't have, or barely has) is you have heard enough music to know when you are making bad sounds! You've acquired a level of aesthetic judgment, based purely on the fact that all the music you've heard is following the rules. So - if you can manage to not be scared off by all the wrong notes you will play - you will find your way to groups of notes that sound good together; i.e., sound like something you've heard before.

Naturally, when one is then taught improvisation (taught properly!) one learns where the vocabulary comes from. One learns what to listen for in music, and how to better copy it. You learn principles like "embellish the melody", or "follow the chord tones", or "think of a rhythm", or "sing a phrase in your head", and so on. All of which is dependent on thoroughly knowing a piece of music to start with (its melody and chords). Not on applying some kind of general chord-scale principles....
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  #49  
Old 02-03-2023, 01:53 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
Quite. Only an idiot would suggest anyone can improvise - to any musically acceptable level - before learning a lot stuff consciously.

I mean, when I say anyone can improvise from the beginning, I don't mean improvise well! I mean, play around, make stuff up.

A 4-year-old kid sat at a piano will "improvise". We'll just (probably) think it will sound like a lot of meaningless noise! That's because the kid has no vocabulary yet. They just like the noise.

But that's still an important principle to carry forward into one's teens or later - whenever one begins learning "proper technique" on an instrument. It's important to play with the same attitude as the child, at least some of the time. To feel free enough to do that, and not be scared that one isn't "good enough" yet.

The advantage you have at that age (which the 4-year-old doesn't have, or barely has) is you have heard enough music to know when you are making bad sounds! .
I think everyone who plays music should really play with it and have some fun. What put me off music at school was it was all playing other peoples music from notation, no opportunity or encouragement to play around with it at all so it just got to be drudgery.
I think that at the level of melody on a scale then improvising is easy enough without any training just trial and error will produce musical results . I think that with a whistle tuned to a pentatonic scale most people could come up with some kind of musical jingle, however annoying it might sound, but once chords and harmony are involved then the level of complexity increases many fold and some kind of mental structure has to be built over time which acts as sort of a conceptual model of melody harmony rhythm and how they interact.
At least that's what I needed to do but I did once have a work mate who was a great jazz whistler, he couldn't play any instruments but he could whistle a tune and improvise around it like Louis Armstrong, working with him was always fun .
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  #50  
Old 02-03-2023, 02:33 PM
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Before I started guitar, I gave piano a go. Somebody gave me an jazz improvisation instructional book. One of the first lessons was to play in the cadence and phrasing that we use when speaking. The first exercise was to ask a question aloud, then play it on the keyboard. The second step was to answer the question out aloud, then play the answer on the keyboard. It worked great. I tried playing sentences written in any book and that worked, too.

Just for grins, try playing this sentence on your guitar, as two phrases using the G-major scale: "Before I started guitar, I gave piano a go." How did it sound? Try it again, but be careful to play the syllables 'tar' and 'go' on a G-major chord tone and then strum a G-chord. Better? Now, try changing the second phrase by landing on a tone that is both part of the G-major scale AND a chord tone of C, the strum the C-chord. Congratulations, you've entered the world of improvisational guitar playing!

PS - The phrases do not have to have the same number of syllables. It just tried "Your choice regarding cookies on this site" and "I do not accept cookies" and instantly got a decent little tune.
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  #51  
Old 02-04-2023, 09:03 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Here's my sad story of beginning guitar. Back in the day they would only teach you to read music. This was the 60s. There was nowhere else to get information. None. I couldn't deal with learning that way. I had a cheap electric guitar and figured out how to tune it and play an E chord. I would pick the E chord and noodle around making sounds by picking single strings. I came up with my own miner pentatonic patterns. That stilted me for many years. The first try at a band I could play lead guitar over a simple John Lee Hooker bass line. People were impressed. Other than that, I was worthless though.
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  #52  
Old 02-04-2023, 09:35 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Andyrondack View Post
I think everyone who plays music should really play with it and have some fun. What put me off music at school was it was all playing other peoples music from notation, no opportunity or encouragement to play around with it at all so it just got to be drudgery.
I also found music lessons at school uninspiring. I didn't mind them too much, there was nothing really difficult about them - I tended to score average marks. I learned to read music (not to sight-read, of course, but enough to understand it), and the only playing I did was a few very simple tunes on recorder, played badly. I seem to remember a large proportion of the lessons consisted of listening to classical music and following scores.
But I certainly gave up music when there was a choice between that and a subject I was more interested (geography, as it happens).

But at that age, I wasn't even interested in music as something to listen to. It was just one of many things we were taught at school that seemed to have little to do with real life, and offered no outlet for creativity. (I liked geography because I could draw maps! )

So I couldn't say music lessons actually "put me off" music - although they certainly would have if I'd been interested in making music myself, because I'm sure I'd have been relegated to the bottom of the class. It was absolutely classical music only, 100%, not even folk music.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andyrondack View Post
I think that at the level of melody on a scale then improvising is easy enough without any training just trial and error will produce musical results. I think that with a whistle tuned to a pentatonic scale most people could come up with some kind of musical jingle, however annoying it might sound, but once chords and harmony are involved then the level of complexity increases many fold and some kind of mental structure has to be built over time which acts as sort of a conceptual model of melody harmony rhythm and how they interact.
Right. But of course it can still be a gradual process - starting with songs with 2 or 3 chords, investigating how the melody and scale works with those. It's definitely a level up from "one note at a time", but not really a huge leap; not if you take it slow anyway.
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  #53  
Old 02-04-2023, 10:59 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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. But of course it can still be a gradual process - starting with songs with 2 or 3 chords, investigating how the melody and scale works with those. It's definitely a level up from "one note at a time", but not really a huge leap; not if you take it slow anyway.
Sure , I started improvising going back and forth between 2 chords, 1 & 5 then 1&4 . First song I learned by ear was the Velvet Underground's Heroin.
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