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Here's a quick question:

How do I be creative when I'm improvising? I tend to repeat the same lines over and over and I'm not really making new lines in the moment. What should I do if I want my lines to be more creative? I tend to lose my creativity when I'm in a couple bars into my solo. Any suggestions? Thanks!
 

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Listen harder. Imagine the rest of the music is surrounding you, and you are swimming in it. Now imagine what you would sing to go along with it, and make those sounds come out of your horn.

It's basically impossible for me to write about this without getting away from the practical and into the mystical.
 

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Turf3 has got part of it, but there is also what you need to shut off. The creativity needs to come from you. It's you singing through your horn (as turf3 indicates). This means ignoring the normal "play the changes" mentality of just trying to impress with a whole bunch of memorized riffs and arpeggios. If you haven't got anything you can sing, then the next best thing is to have a big library in your head of those borrowed lines and do your "cut and paste" best.

So two things are necessary for REAL creativity: 1. have something musical to say, 2. being "one with your instrument" so that what you can hear in your head you can play with your horn.

The "mystical" part comes in after having achieved being one with your horn so that you don't consciously think about what you're doing. It is indeed like singing where you make sounds without thinking "now I'm going to sing/play an Ab followed by a D# ..." It's automatic with no translation through "theory". No REAL creative musician plays theory, they play music. Academics, who can't play, try to codify what creative people do with "theory". Theory isn't creativity. Singing through your horn is. Where it gets "mystical" is that you are not using your conscious mind. What's usually said is that the music "flows THROUGH you", or you can get really weird and say your channeling some dead guy or whatever. No weirdness or mysticism is necessary to achieve that state, but it does take a lot of practice to become one with your horn. Having something to say musically is another, and that's where you come to that word that nobody wants to say or hear: talent. The common attitude among students and teachers is that you learn all the prescribed stuff and you will somehow be a musician. Just isn't so. You can learn the cut and paste and use theory to remember how and were to do your cut and paste, but it's not being creative...and that's what you are asking about. Most learn to be musical mechanics, and if they are happy with that, then that's fine. To be a creative artist means that you have something unique to say and can communicate it through your instrument (or paint brushes) for others to enjoy.

What we usually hear from sax players is unfortunately the opposite, and this is partly the fault of the teaching establishment. It's a rare audience that wants to go see someone just trying to impress with a bunch of fast technique that says nothing. The player who can communicate and touch people's emotions will always have an audience. It a matter of having something to give and communicate. The standard of teaching and the way "theory" is taught is about copying players from 50 + years ago and doing the cut and past thing while playing tunes that nobody under 70 years old knows. They are taught to try and TAKE admiration for their technical skill rather than GIVE the audience something they can relate to. Is there any question why audiences are generally absent from strictly mainstream gigs?

Your question is a good one. Sorry about the long answer, but some of this stuff needs to be said. if sax players and teachers don't wise up they will find that their instrument will die with the type of music they are promoting. The clarinet died as a popular instrument with the Benny Goodman style. There is little evidence of mainstream jazz surviving as a part of popular culture. So will sax players and teachers continue to cast their own cement booties?
 

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Hi! Here is the program of work in the direction you want(each step requires audio recording ):

play improvisation on one single chord, for example on Cmaj7* (record );

listen to the recording and play along with it again your improvisation;

sing an improvisation on the same chord ( record);


listen to your vocal improvisation ; transfer it to the instrument, whatever it is. Try to accurately observe the dynamics and articulation ; record the result and listen ;

go to the pattern 2-5-1 ;

try to insert into the vocal improvisation the spoken intonations, and transfer to the instrument (record).


All this is part of my work on the instrument, though not on the saxophone.
 

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Here's a quick question:

How do I be creative when I'm improvising? I tend to repeat the same lines over and over and I'm not really making new lines in the moment. What should I do if I want my lines to be more creative? I tend to lose my creativity when I'm in a couple bars into my solo. Any suggestions? Thanks!
unbalance yourself.

I can’t remember who said so but one instructor told me the story that a trumpet player deliberately started his solo in a “ wrong” tone.

This caused him to have to run into some less than expected and well known territories, in some unusual directions to balance things.

Seriously, like in many things in life, most creative response is born from having done something wrong at some stage. I find that small alterations in the way you phrase result into very different ways to play the same thing.

Few people have made a lifetime study on altering their solos as Lee Konitz did with “ All the things you are”.

He took all the possible approaches and also made some impossible ones sound new too.

from a more traditional approach



to a more intriguing ones




 

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unbalance yourself.

I can’t remember who said so but one instructor told me the story that a trumpet player deliberately started his solo in a “ wrong” tone.

This caused him to have to run into some less than expected and well known territories, in some unusual directions to balance things.

Seriously, like in many things in life, most creative response is born from having done something wrong at some stage. I find that small alterations in the way you phrase result into very different ways to play the same thing.

Few people have made a lifetime study on altering their solos as Lee Konitz did with “ All the things you are”.

He took all the possible approaches and also made some impossible ones sound new too.

from a more traditional approach



to a more intriguing ones




Fantastic, fantastic advice.
 

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unbalance yourself.

I can’t remember who said so but one instructor told me the story that a trumpet player deliberately started his solo in a “ wrong” tone.
Simulating your own speech melody eliminates doubts about the initial sound or others if the form of construction is logical and the beginning and ending of the phrase sits inside harmony.

https://yadi.sk/d/1lEUtVJ_3ViGwr
 

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Lee and Dan did concerts that were somewhat like a masterclass without students (I saw them a few years back). Lee took time out to share observations, musings, and even scat sing a bit. Playing was harder for him, that was clear, but his imagination was still visible thru that. Dan got considerable time to play solo, and is pretty damn amazing on his own, of course.
 

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All the above, plus: Woodshed your tunes in new keys. Freeing yourself from well-worn patterns of muscle memory may motivate your brain to find new melodic lines.
 

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Listen harder. Imagine the rest of the music is surrounding you, and you are swimming in it. Now imagine what you would sing to go along with it, and make those sounds come out of your horn.

It's basically impossible for me to write about this without getting away from the practical and into the mystical.
All the above, plus: Woodshed your tunes in new keys. Freeing yourself from well-worn patterns of muscle memory may motivate your brain to find new melodic lines.
This is an excellent thread, all comments above; recommended!

This is stuff I am currently studying with my teacher.
 

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Try starting your lines on different notes than you normally would. If you usually start your lines on roots, 3rds, or 7ths, try starting on 9ths, b9ths, #9ths, 6ths, b5ths etc.

Also try playing different rhythms. I don't know what type of music you play, but if you're talking about jazz improvisation, if you usually play lines based on swung 8th notes, try playing whole and half notes. Also try to come up with catchy little rhythmic motifs and then see how many different variations you can think of, à la Sonny Rollins.
 

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Sometimes when I'm soloing, I realize that I'm just jabbering.

Taking time for pauses and leaving space gets me in a different head space.

Gross over-exaggeration: "I'm going to do this chorus playing only on counts 3 and 4 of every other measure..."

Forcing myself to put the spaces in allows me to feel more natural with what I'm doing. It becomes more conversational between me and the band and the audience.

Listening and reacting to what the other guys in the band are doing can lead to some fun developments.

Just some thoughts...
 
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