Jump to content

Breakthroughs/Exercises for improvisation?


BadHands
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey all,

I've been working on improvisation, and wondered what exercises or breakthroughs helped you with improvisation. Specifically reducing the time between hearing something in your head, and playing it immediately? 

By this I mean not "Playing visually" (Scalar patterns/arpeggios) or by relying on muscle memory (internalised licks). 

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Imitate and assimilate to innovate. The way just about every successful improviser has got there is by learning from whoever/whatever they like the the sound of most, copying it, not getting it 100% right and making it their own. No-one gets fluent at a language by only speaking it. The more sounds you hear, and the patterns therein, the more you recognise that pattern the next time you hear it. Not to get all jazz on you but if you don’t want to go down the route of associating a shape to a sound, learn to sing something basic, then find the notes - if you can croak well enough to make a tune, of course ;)

I used to think I was blessed with a good ear, and I probably was, but by doing the above I got much, much better. You can learn the music and write it down but only if you want to know the theory side. It’s not essential so long as you know the sound and how to play it. I would recommend you have a working knowledge of most regular chords because no-one (worth listening to) improvises without reference to a bunch or chord changes. You can start this process and that of improvising by hearing and understanding intervals (so two single notes, one after the other and working out the gap in pitch between them) first. 


And apologies in advance if any/all of the above is already obvious!

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In what way do you want to improvise? Do you want to be able to play along with a band and come up with a bassline on the spot, or do you want to be able to solo over changes? 

For me, there are a few things I like to do to improve my improvising.  The first is knowing chord tones and being able to play them all over the fingerboard, so that I'm not stuck in position. The next (and maybe most important) is ear training. It's a big advantage to be able to hear a pattern and be able to recognise the intervals, as well as hearing the differences in chord qualities. The other thing I'd suggest is to listen and transcribe. Listen at some of the great improvisers and pay attention to how they phrase and the lines that they play, and try to apply them on the bass. Horn players and piano players are generally more melodic than most bass players so It's worth listening to them and picking out lines. That way you are building up your vocabulary and it will all begin to work it's way in to your playing. Don't be afraid to play licks. Every great player has lines and licks that they often use in their improvising.

TL:DR  Ear training, theory, transcription.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Doddy said:

want to be able to play along with a band and come up with a bassline on the spot

This appeals more to me. The only bass solos I enjoy tend to be groove based, and so are either not that harmonically excited, but around chord tones or scales.

I've been working on recognising intervals and transcribing by ear, but tend to fall into the habit of looking down and "Seeing" which notes are in the scale/chord, and playing from my eyes. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Knowing the fretboard intimately, awareness of scale shapes and how the intervals(chord tones) relate to the root over the fretboard. After that it's just developing confidence from practice and jamming to a metronome or backing track by yourself.

Edited by TheLowDown
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...