Author Topic: How do one improvise in a song.  (Read 433 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline macdjerf

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Tributor
  • *
  • Posts: 239
  • Learner
How do one improvise in a song.
« on: January 16, 2022, 01:56:58 PM »
Hi Everybody!


I hope you have a good start of the new year!  :D


I wonder if you could give med some advice on how to improvise when playing a song.
What should one think of and how do one choose what notes to play, ie what notes go well together.
Also when do you improvise in a song like "At Last" which is one of my absolute favourites.


I would be very grateful if you could give some very practical advice.
I thank you all kind people on beforehand for taking time with this beginners question. :)


All the best
Mac
Mac
Sweden

Offline SlideMeister

  • Owner/Administrator
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 26,868
  • A.J. Fedor ><((((º>
    • A.J.'s mini-site
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2022, 03:57:57 PM »
Hi Mac!

I remember the late-great Jimmy Lohman explaining to someone how he started doing it years ago. We were at a convention somewhere, and while no where as "free and easy" as Jimmy was, I realized (with a lesser degree of success :-[) it's what ~I've~ done as well. IOW, I know this trick actually does work. ;)

Jimmy said, when you play something familiar, just hang a couple of your own "noodle" notes on the end of a phrase that you're comfortable with, and see how it sounds. In my case, I've found that if they don't work, it sounds so bad that I remember not to ever do that again. :)  It's just a trial and error thing. After a while, you'll have a bunch of these little "noodles" in your bag of tricks, that you'll find yourself using without even thinking about them.

Also, every key (position) has its own little "whippies" that work. Kinda like getting "more colours" on your pallet than you thought you had.

@j fedor   ><((((º>



Offline macdjerf

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Tributor
  • *
  • Posts: 239
  • Learner
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2022, 04:10:52 PM »
Hi AJ!


Thanks a lot for the good advice!
It is simple enough for me to try at once!  :D


All the best
Mac
Mac
Sweden

Offline SlideMeister

  • Owner/Administrator
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 26,868
  • A.J. Fedor ><((((º>
    • A.J.'s mini-site
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2022, 04:13:35 PM »
It certainly can't hurt, and ~I~ think it'll actually work for ya.
Lemme know, bro! :)
@j fedor   ><((((º>

Offline SlideMeister

  • Owner/Administrator
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 26,868
  • A.J. Fedor ><((((º>
    • A.J.'s mini-site
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2022, 04:14:50 PM »
You'll soon find yourself saying: Hmm! I never knew I could do that! ;D ;D

Offline macdjerf

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Tributor
  • *
  • Posts: 239
  • Learner
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2022, 02:52:14 PM »
Thanks Age!


I hope you're right!


All the best
Mac
Mac
Sweden

Offline ejacob4

  • V.I.P
  • Chrome-Minator
  • *****
  • Posts: 542
  • Member
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2022, 05:14:35 PM »
I’m getting discreet questions. So two answers, and different enough to get 2 posts.
1. Instead of holding a long note, hit it 3 or more times.
2. Trill into or out of a note.
3. After you’ve tried embellishing the end of a phrase, try embellishing the middle instead. It changes your point of view.

Listen to good, skilled singers. Lots of them navigate embellishments in wonderful ways.

Offline ejacob4

  • V.I.P
  • Chrome-Minator
  • *****
  • Posts: 542
  • Member
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2022, 05:43:43 PM »
Part 2:

Listen to the words. All of them. Lots of songs, notably show tunes, have lead ins, and those have words the lyricist couldn’t leave out. I’ll play the lead in and song as often as I know them both.

Take everything out of the song that you can, every note you can hold instead of change, hold. Is there a place where silence or a held note matters?

All this is how I get at the writers’ intent.

A good singer executes the song and, feeling the lyrics, hearing and internalizing them, colors the song.

Listen again. How does it make you feel, what bit of lyric lifts or pulls or tears at you? Just deal with, play those in whatever way they come at you, and find a way or ways to emphasize them, and still keep it real.

This is how I find the writers’ effect on me, my place in the song.

The final part, for me, is playing the writers’ intent from my place in the song, kinda like a kid walking down the street, one foot in the gutter, the other on the sidewalk.

This is not the way to improvise. It’s a way to approach improvisation. It is not right. I’m pretty sure there is no right.

I’ve heard and seen pure improvisation. Done some. Saw Jarrett play the same phrase over and over waiting for the change, the vine t phrase, whatever was in the air all around us. Most often it was . . . disappointing. Sometimes it was truly, staggeringly, wonderful. Never saw anyone work that hard at anything, ever.

I’d rather be Icarus than Sisyphus. Every single stinking’ time.

Best regards,
Ed



Offline macdjerf

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Tributor
  • *
  • Posts: 239
  • Learner
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2022, 05:47:28 PM »
Hi ejacob4!


Thank you very much för the good advice, I'll try it on one of my favorites.
I´m not very experienced in improvising and therefore I need every advice I can get.


All the best
Mac

Mac
Sweden

Offline Scotty

  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 9,546
  • Elizabeth (Scotty)
    • Myspace.com/elizabethgs
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2022, 06:00:25 PM »
Thank you so much Ed! THIS is how I think of improv. Not the 'all over the place' stuff other people do (even though that
can sound great to my ears at times) which isn't something workable for me. No, I'M all about the melody AND the lyrics
of the song as well. I hear the song in my head and want to play THAT - the feeling, deep emotions of the song....what it's
all about. So - why muck about with it? (a Britishism, not off-colour). :) You've just put it into words I'd never imagined or considered before, so thank you for giving me somewhere to begin. I have occasionally attempted to embellish a song I
already love, but haven't been overly successful, mostly due to that concern about ruining the writer's intent.

You have a way of 'splaining things so my brain comprehends perfectly. ;D

scotty

Offline ejacob4

  • V.I.P
  • Chrome-Minator
  • *****
  • Posts: 542
  • Member
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2022, 06:13:59 PM »
I have a pair of boots made just for mucking about. Believe it or not, by the muck boot company. What a world!

Glad the missive worked.

Best regards,
Ed

Offline Scotty

  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 9,546
  • Elizabeth (Scotty)
    • Myspace.com/elizabethgs
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2022, 07:14:35 PM »
Thank you again! I've used this term and been entirely misunderstood - elsewhere. We Britons seem to have spread our
language very far afield, but at least it's nice that I don't have to continue to explain myself ad nauseam. I have reverted
back to using the spelling from my childhood, purely because of an incident which occurred when I first entered an American
School when a typing teacher flunked me - barely 6 weeks after we got here for daring to spell words such as colour, favour, 
with the 'u' (I had absolutely no idea that Americans spelled words differently), telling me that 'you people think your spelling
is superior to ours, but it's not!" While it was an elective typing course, that F followed my normal straight A's and caused a lot
of problems for years. It's nice to write as I choose nowadays and not have anyone bothered. :)

scotty


Offline ejacob4

  • V.I.P
  • Chrome-Minator
  • *****
  • Posts: 542
  • Member
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2022, 08:03:13 PM »
Your spelling is no mystery to an English teacher. Just a reminder to the . . . It’s called English. Just sayin’.

English teacher favorite oxymoron: American Standard English.

Seriously, as in (yup, back on topic) language, the power of music lies in its near infinite diversity.

Best regards,
Ed

Offline brorat

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Meister
  • *
  • Posts: 1,474
  • Member
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2022, 10:11:41 PM »
Scotty,

I grew up and lived the first half of my life in the rural, southeastern part of Virginia.  Our farm was about an hour from Jamestown, so the British influence is literally everywhere.  I grew up in Southampton County.  Nearby were:  Suffolk, Norfolk, Hampton, Northampton County ... you get the idea.  Many of the phrases and words we used were very British in nature.  For example, folks up there still refer to the "boot" of the car.  So, bottom line, your reference to "muck" is perfectly understood in my area!

BTW, I'm one of the few folks in SC who actually knows how to pronounce "Worcestershire" ;D
“Just here to harp on chromatics!”

Offline Scotty

  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 9,546
  • Elizabeth (Scotty)
    • Myspace.com/elizabethgs
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2022, 12:40:20 AM »
Appreciated - to both of you. I realize we took this a bit off-topic (but that does happen here). Edinburgh is one of my
'gnashing of teeth' names when mispronounced by just about every newscaster, lol, even more so than when my own
original City of Glasgow is pronounced as rhyming with 'cow' and not 'go', but I've digressed again.

Like Mac, I've tended not to improv too much on a song, playing most of my music rather straight forward. It's nice to
learn some ways to add a wee 'something' without having to catch up to the real jazz improv masters here. :)

scotty
Brorat: ask them to say 'whoosh' and you're partway there with a wee bit of finagling, hahaha
« Last Edit: September 16, 2022, 12:42:41 AM by Scotty »

Offline Danny G

  • Happiness is a New Harmonica
  • THE PARTY GUY
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 5,339
  • Danny G
    • New Harmonica
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2022, 08:53:33 AM »
My favorite meat market is in Edenburgh
Scotty, do you pronounce Edinburgh with emphasis on Ed as in Edward or more like the E  Eden ?

Offline Scotty

  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 9,546
  • Elizabeth (Scotty)
    • Myspace.com/elizabethgs
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2022, 11:13:10 AM »
My favorite meat market is in Edenburgh
Scotty, do you pronounce Edinburgh with emphasis on Ed as in Edward or more like the E  Eden ?
The former, Danny. Ed in burr uh, or some broaden it a bit and say burr'ah, but it's actually just a kind of
dropped off sound at the end where you barely hear the 'uh', but never 'bur-G', and the emphasis IS on
the Ed.

And I didn't specify about Glasgow, while we're at it, hahaha. It's Glazz-go with a hard 's'. not a soft 'glass'
(the pronounciation, that is). Whew, that felt good. Thx! :)

scotty
PS: It was noted that out of all of the Countries, Queen Elizabeth II loved Scotland the most, spending her
final days at her beloved Balmoral Castle. It is a very beautiful Country, especially the Highlands North of
Aberdeen which I got to experience once on a school trip.

Offline Keith

  • HELPER
  • MasterMeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 4,030
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2022, 12:17:13 PM »
Glass-go sounds a bit posh - I thought it was pronounced Glaz-gee...... ;)

Offline Gnarly He Man

  • AKA Gary
  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 14,847
  • Chroma means color
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2022, 02:47:31 PM »
BTW, I'm one of the few folks in SC who actually knows how to pronounce "Worcestershire" ;D
A little known fact, invented by a black woman who took one taste and exclaimed, “Wuz dis here sauce?”
 :o

Offline John Broecker

  • Time-traveler (Drummer)
  • HELPER
  • MonsterMeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,359
  • 1925 Hohner Sax & JB
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2022, 08:08:35 PM »
"Was der sheer, wewstersure, wisterchair,
boy, I wish I could pronounce Woosturshir."

--Moe Howard, of The USA's Three Stooges
movie comedians.

We improvise every day in our speech.
Just "say" whatever comes to mind,
and you'll be improvising.

The great improvisers, jazz musicians,
play the original tune or song, then
they embellish it with their musical
ideas. Do what they do, with your
ideas.

Jazz musicians don't generally play the
same song in the same way, from one
day to the next.

If you're reading sheet music, or 
playing a tune from memory, you
aren't improvising.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: September 16, 2022, 08:18:11 PM by John Broecker »
"A dirty shirt in a bin with wheat germ for 21 days will produce live mice." -- Belgian chemist, physician; Jean Baptiste van Helmont, 1580-1644.

Offline Age

  • A.J.Fedor
  • HELPER
  • Baby Button Pusher
  • ***
  • Posts: 86
  • A.J. Fedor ><((((º> (member since 9/1/22)
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2022, 09:26:27 PM »
Can't speak from experience (as a non-reading musical dolt :P) but I'm guessing, if you actually know the names of all the notes in the chord in the phrase you're in, playing any of those notes an any order, will technically qualify as improv. While not necessarily good improve, ::) they should all "fit," without any offending (farkles) notes. No?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2022, 12:01:11 AM by Old Age »

Offline Gnarly He Man

  • AKA Gary
  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 14,847
  • Chroma means color
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2022, 09:41:22 PM »
Many years ago, I purchased the “Miracle Piano System”, a keyboard that hooked up to your computer and provided instruction. 
I stopped using it when I found out it wouldn’t let me improvise.
Still have the keyboard tho.

Offline Scotty

  • PRESIDENT'S CLUB
  • MonsterMeister
  • *
  • Posts: 9,546
  • Elizabeth (Scotty)
    • Myspace.com/elizabethgs
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2022, 01:04:27 AM »
Glass-go sounds a bit posh - I thought it was pronounced Glaz-gee...... ;)

Glazz-go is how Glaswegians pronounce it, Keith, but there are those people who speak slang 'glez-ga' accents who
might call it that. Even a couple of my recently found cousins have very thick glaswegian accents, hard to understand.
We certainly weren't posh (grew up in 2 rooms - not 2 bedrooms, 2 actual rooms which served as everything...very
close to the poorest part of the City), but my mother wasn't Scottish and insisted we speak properly as so many other
Scots did - as well as the Nuns (teachers) in my schools. It's served me well. While most people still hear my accent,
I've never been misunderstood by the average English speaker. :)

scotty

Offline macdjerf

  • CHARTER MEMBER
  • Chrome-Tributor
  • *
  • Posts: 239
  • Learner
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2022, 01:07:17 PM »
Hi Age and Broecker!


I thank you for very good advice that I'll take and will use strongly. :)
I'm presently practicing blues with the Cromatic and have good hopes for getting both feeling and improvisation to work.
It looks and sound not too bad in my own ears but maybe it's a bathroom experience.  ;D

By the way, have you played "Blues in the dark"?

Once again I'm very grateful for your advice.


All the best
Mac
« Last Edit: September 17, 2022, 01:09:23 PM by macdjerf »
Mac
Sweden

Offline John Broecker

  • Time-traveler (Drummer)
  • HELPER
  • MonsterMeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 5,359
  • 1925 Hohner Sax & JB
Re: How do one improvise in a song.
« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2022, 02:44:01 PM »
Hello, Mac.

Blues in the Dark is unknown to me.
Both Blues and Jazz styles use
improvisation.

Here are more improvisation tips:

1. IF YOU HAVE NO MUSIC THEORY
BACKGOUND

Find a professional musician's recorded
version of your chosen tune, listen
to it, 4 or 5 or more times.

Find and record the chords of your
chosen tune, with another musician
(pianist, guitarist) playing the chords.

Then, play your melody with the chords.
If the improv doesn't sound correct, it
may be that your improvisation isn't
using notes that fit the chord harmonies.

Play the chord accompaniments again,
substituting "correct" notes. Your musical
ears will tell you if the notes you play
are correct.

Playing the "wrong notes" could be good,
or bad. Great improvisations sometimes
happen by accident, such as a bad note
not fitting the accompaniment chords.

2. IF YOU HAVE A BASIC MUSIC THEORY
BACKGROUND

The general rule is to use melody note(s)
that fit in the spelling of the chords. If the
chord is C-E-G played together, play at
least one of those 3 notes in your improv.

This requires a basic knowledge of music
theory, chords and harmonies. If you don't
know the chord spellings or harmonies, let
your ears find the "correct" notes.

Your ears will tell you which notes "sound
good", even if you don't have a music theory
background.

Using the ear training system will take longer
to achieve a satisfactory result, than using
music theory, but improvised ear training is
as acceptable as music theory.

Sometimes, good improv accidents will be
discovered by ear, and not by music theory.

Improvisation is not difficult, just do it.
Good improvisation takes a bit longer.

Don't worry about "mistakes", they
are how we learn.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 01:08:16 AM by John Broecker »
"A dirty shirt in a bin with wheat germ for 21 days will produce live mice." -- Belgian chemist, physician; Jean Baptiste van Helmont, 1580-1644.