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Starting with improvisation.

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Dec 6, 2018 - 10:08:48 AM
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haggis

Scotland

308 posts since 10/19/2009

Re. Improvisation. I read of flattened this and sharpened that . Here a passing note, there another. Eventually we have all twelve notes and are back to square one. In my opinion the most important element in improvising is knowing which scale/mode to hang all the embellishments upon. I liken the basic scale/mode which one uses to a suit of clothes. One then adds to this a necktie , cuff links and pocket kerchief depending upon the colour of suit you wear. In other words, know your basic scales ,modes , finger patterns etc. and you will find these "other" notes quite easily. Or am I wrong?

Dec 6, 2018 - 10:43:53 AM
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1517 posts since 8/27/2008

Don't forget timing, phrasing, double stops, slides, dynamics. Improvisation isn't just notes.

Dec 6, 2018 - 10:57:38 AM

23 posts since 3/16/2008

quote:
Originally posted by abinigia

Don't forget timing, phrasing, double stops, slides, dynamics. Improvisation isn't just notes.


Those go beyond STARTING improvisation.

Yes, the major scales are important, but I find that basic pentatonic scales suit me best when improvising... G, A, D, maybe E also.

Dec 6, 2018 - 12:10:08 PM

1295 posts since 12/11/2008

Learn the tune to the point where it resides comfortably in your fingers and head. Play it, sing it, hum it, think it. Figure out what you think makes it emotionally tick. Then, find ways of either further exploring that emotional theme or turning that emotion on its ear. Turn the comedy into a drama. A drama into a comedy.

Dec 6, 2018 - 12:24:51 PM
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1517 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by MusicMan13760

Those go beyond STARTING improvisation.


Maybe for some. In the same way that notes need structures to form meaningful melodies, I consider improvisation to be about notes and structure too. I think STARTING improvisation is whatever you make it. That's why it's called improvisation.

I get that any kind of improvisation is a big jump for some players. But I think it's useful to understand at the start that it isn't only note choice you can play with.

Dec 6, 2018 - 3:01:14 PM
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2072 posts since 10/1/2008

Well …. Most melodies that we fiddlers learn are likely somebodies improvisation. There are a few ways to approach improvising. From a simple , SIMPLE, melody you can add , subtract, harmonize and syncopate tones that you find pleasing to your ear … keeping in mind the tempo. Or you can "play the changes" where you completely ignore the melody in favor of the chords and jam on those changes with scales , arpeggios and double stops.... thirdly a combination of the two where the melody never entirely disappears and the improvisation continues to flirt with it...… easier said than done. As pointed out above really knowing a melody is the place to start and that is after you have taken the time to learn the chords, relative scales and developed your ear...… This fiddling stuff is like climbing a metaphorical ladder... the higher you get the more you see.... the more you learn the more you know there is to learn ….. Enjoy …

Dec 6, 2018 - 6:09:02 PM

haggis

Scotland

308 posts since 10/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by abinigia

Don't forget timing, phrasing, double stops, slides, dynamics. Improvisation isn't just notes.


Yes , there are many elements to improvisation . As I said in my opinion  " the most important element."

Dec 6, 2018 - 6:10:48 PM

haggis

Scotland

308 posts since 10/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Learn the tune to the point where it resides comfortably in your fingers and head. Play it, sing it, hum it, think it. Figure out what you think makes it emotionally tick. Then, find ways of either further exploring that emotional theme or turning that emotion on its ear. Turn the comedy into a drama. A drama into a comedy.


I was thinking more about on the hoof improvisation.

Dec 7, 2018 - 1:39:47 AM
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1111 posts since 4/6/2014

i like to find the mode of the Key that sits in the middle of the fingerboard and learn the "head" in relation to that mode, mostly in single octave closed positions on adjacent strings, keeping the basic melody in the fiddles natural voice, and using open strings or ghosted notes or rests etc, to change positions. i use this as the basic framework for the tune

Then i learn and analyse the progression, (on guitar) then alter the progression(on guitar), and follow the altered progression on fiddle keeping things in the fiddles natural range, and noodle around until things start to "happen"...if i find something nice i stop and work out why it sounds nice, and use it as a " motif " or "lick" to aim at while i'm improvising proper. These licks or whatever then start altering as well, and sometimes end up sounding like "Quotes" from previously learned tunes, the rest of the scales/modes/arpeggio's/pentatonics/ double stops, etc, just link these licks/quotes/motifs, together and follow either my altered chord progression, or re-enforce the original chord progression or melody

i'm starting to find that i don't need to play/alter/hear the chords on guitar so much these days, and am starting to hear them (or at least a bass line) in my head, as i mess about with em on fiddle

at least i think that's what i try to do. Then some of this stuff ends up as improvisation if when i play it with others, if not i've got the "Head" to go back to.... chord wise or melody wise

Dec 7, 2018 - 11:11:33 AM

1111 posts since 4/6/2014

quote:
Originally posted by haggis

Re. Improvisation. I read of flattened this and sharpened that . Here a passing note, there another. Eventually we have all twelve notes and are back to square one. In my opinion the most important element in improvising is knowing which scale/mode to hang all the embellishments upon. I liken the basic scale/mode which one uses to a suit of clothes. One then adds to this a necktie , cuff links and pocket kerchief depending upon the colour of suit you wear. In other words, know your basic scales ,modes , finger patterns etc. and you will find these "other" notes quite easily. Or am I wrong?


That basic suit of clothes may not fit the fiddle, it may have to be tailored to fit the fiddle,..and your own preferences and abilities, make it comfortable and fun for yourself, adding your own favourite accessories to personalise it . play what comes easy to yourself, and the fiddle, and fits the melody/harmony in a pleasing way to yourself, and hopefully the listeners...some of them might get your intensions

Things get easier and sound more sophisticated as you get better at making things easy, and sound good to yourself, those things are not necessarily easy for other players, ....and define your own style of improvisation, (maybe/probably influenced by other players)

......i hope i'm right because that's what i am, and have been trying to do for a while now ??

May 2, 2019 - 4:27:41 PM

DavidM

Australia

85 posts since 5/21/2016

To be honest, I don't have a lot of musical ideas. I may develop a variation on a few bars, but I would not call it improv. While I have been playing music for a long time, have only recently decided to embark on an exercise improvising over "Minor Swing," a tune I chose for its simple structure. My question is this: Generally, do improvisors find it most efficient to use classically recognised finger choices when traversing three octaves?

May 2, 2019 - 5:56:52 PM

1974 posts since 8/23/2008
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by DavidM

do improvisors find it most efficient to use classically recognised finger choices when traversing three octaves?


I think the classical fingers are the most efficient for all the possible ways of traversing three octaves, whether the traverse is chromatic, scalar, arpeggiated or of large intervals, and each can have a variation on the fingering for the change of position. In other words, classical fingers cover all the possible fingering choices, depends on how much one studies them. 

May 2, 2019 - 6:33:16 PM
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1533 posts since 10/22/2007

You mean inprov like finding the key, and conocting a break/solo (on the fly) in like a country tune? Or improv more like a long Jazz solo? Scemantics i suppose but improv varies from style to style and possibly from conversation to conversation. For some it's mearly playing by ear. For others it's more inventive.

May 3, 2019 - 2:14:20 PM
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DavidM

Australia

85 posts since 5/21/2016

Thanks for the replies. I am not aware of differing improvisation methods in regards to genres of music. For now, it is the mechanics of three octaves that concern me. If I can sort that out, perhaps I will look closer at genre. I thought Minor Swing was a good place to start.

May 3, 2019 - 4:36:33 PM

1295 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by haggis
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Learn the tune to the point where it resides comfortably in your fingers and head. Play it, sing it, hum it, think it. Figure out what you think makes it emotionally tick. Then, find ways of either further exploring that emotional theme or turning that emotion on its ear. Turn the comedy into a drama. A drama into a comedy.


I was thinking more about on the hoof improvisation.


I'm thinking the same thing.  Do it on the fly!smiley

May 3, 2019 - 8:11:18 PM

1533 posts since 10/22/2007

Well, here's my thoughts:
Its all one big chromatic scale. Therein lies many keys. I only recently learnt piano. But knowing what i do about piano, my approach revealed why it was so easy for me to grasp piano. Its all laid out before you. Point being, the key is your first boundary. Your second boundary is your chord(s) within the key. Another boundary is the phrase. The meter is another boundary. The late John Hartford said, As long as you get the first and last note of the phrase, you can dang near put anything in there. What he isnt saying, is he is staying within the, meter, and key.
As far as Jazz solos, there is an approach where one is supposed to play anything but the active chord. This is playing "outside." Many, many other approaches.
You gotta be very comfortable with your music, yet have enough contempt or bravery to be able to deviate from your typical path.

May 14, 2019 - 8:43:01 PM
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170 posts since 4/22/2009

"In my opinion the most important element in improvising is knowing which scale/mode to hang all the embellishments upon....
Or am I wrong?"

Opinions aren't wrong. Mine is different from yours though. IMO, the most important element is the melody. Recasting the melody into a variation is a good way to begin improv. The second most important element is the chord progression. Focus on chords rather than scales. An example is to play the third note of the chord when the chords change. This would be called "playing the changes". Doing this "acknowledges" the new chord. The third is to use repetition and a variety of rhythms to establish patterns. It allows a listener to be more engaged with the music. Playing evolving "motifs" is a great way to practice improv. A motif is a short bit of melody which can be repeated in a sequence, with subtle changes made to each iteration. The listener hears a familiar melody with evolving changes made to it.

May 15, 2019 - 2:27:03 AM

1111 posts since 4/6/2014

quote:
Originally posted by haggis

Re. Improvisation. I read of flattened this and sharpened that . Here a passing note, there another. Eventually we have all twelve notes and are back to square one. In my opinion the most important element in improvising is knowing which scale/mode to hang all the embellishments upon. I liken the basic scale/mode which one uses to a suit of clothes. One then adds to this a necktie , cuff links and pocket kerchief depending upon the colour of suit you wear. In other words, know your basic scales ,modes , finger patterns etc. and you will find these "other" notes quite easily. Or am I wrong?


i think i see what you are getting at maybe? i do a similar thing..

i work it like this:

Key C Major

Chord i am playing over... say E7

Basic mode in the Key of C with E as Root= E Phrygian

But E7 has G#!!...no problem, just sharpen the G of the E phrygian mode

E Phrygian with a #3rd= 5th mode of A harmonic minor...Chord E7, the 5th chord of A harmonic minor

There is my  basic mode to hang my embellishments on. And the chord function.

Then i substitute, and/or Extend the progression, strip down to a pentatonic, use the arpeggio, add blue notes, stick with the altered mode, or whatever. So long as what i am playing is in A minor and serves the same function as the original E7 chord it seems to work. The next chord is not necessarily Amin though. But the odds are it will have A note as its root

How do i know i'm in A minor an not A Major when the E7 Chord is being played?...i only ever alter 1 single note from the original mode from the original key of C major. So i know i'm borrowing the mode from a related Key. A major would require 2 notes to be altered, The G would be sharped AND the C would be sharped, so i don't go there.

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