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Hello everyone, I really need help with improvisation (reading chords, developing rhythms, basically everything improvising related). Until now, if i had a solo in a piece of music, I would go and look up the chords and everything on the internet and then use those notes and make up a solo and it would always be the same!...:( I really want to be able to make up solos on the spot. Any help appreciated.
 

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check out Pete Thomas' website for reference, steve neff, tim price and many others.

I would recommend for you to memorize the melody. running the tune in my head during my solos help me to navigate and prevent me from getting lost :)
 

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This is too general question to expect really helpful answers I'm afraid, and one which is asked here quite often: there are a couple recently almost exactly the same, I'll try to find them, or you could try a search.

There are loads of books and resources, but no quick answer.
 

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Improvisation is a big field.

One way to maybe have a go at it might be,

At first keep it simple.

Imagine a G minor chord played in a funk way as the harmony.

If you don't know the G minor dorian scale or G minor Blues scale or G minor arpeggio chord notes then learn them.

Use a G minor dorian scale as a template and try to make some rhythmic and note variations sound like something that might resemble a bit of a Funk solo.

Try triplets, try passing notes between the main beats ie C, B, Bb or G, F#, F played as a triplet, try a G minor arpeggio played as a triplet and not as a triplet.

Try to do some simple call and answer phrasing using the G minor blues scale and G minor chord notes.

Alernate between the G minor blues scale and the G minor dorian scale keeping in mind the G minor chord notes (and common extensions like the 9th) to use on a lot of the main beats.

Get a good feel of the on and off beats.

The IIm7 V7 Imaj chord progression can have a lot of the same approaches as the G minor Funk example above except in the IIm7 V7 Imaj chord progression the chords change and key centres change throughout the song, so all different keys need to be covered as well.

Another common chord progession is the IIm7b5 V7 Im.

etc etc

Try anything and reject the things that you don't like.
 

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I am just a beginner at this (four years) but I would say that the first thing you need is a basic music theory course. There is no point in going any further unless you know elementary theory at the "speed of light", so to speak. You can't get in the door without it. I've thought about creating a flashcard system for this, but I don't have the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok, if this is too broad a topic, then how do i read chord symbols? Any help appreciated:) Pete Thomas' website is very comprehensive!:rr:
 

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Ok, if this is too broad a topic, then how do i read chord symbols? Any help appreciated:) Pete Thomas' website is very comprehensive!:rr:
That really is one of the easier aspects to mug up on. My main advice would be that you need to be really clear on all your major scales and relative minors before getting too far into the theory because only with that practical base does the theory have much practical application. Then practice arpeggiating basic chord symbols (eg Dm7-G7-C) using your scale knowlege.

In terms of general impro advice I would agree with much of what saxpiece is saying about using a simple basis and experimenting with rhythms etc. Also (of course) do tons of LISTENING to quality recordings.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Recordings like what/of who?
 

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All the above advice is OK to good, but if you study music in a way that does not incorporate you in the equation then it is simply a mechanical exercise. You can learn how to read charts and know which fingers = notes to play, but if you can't hear that note before you play it, then it's not going to have any feeling or impact.

Transcription can be good, but only if you learn to hear the notes. If all you are doing is writing them down to mechanically play, then you haven't taken in the music. Singing requires that you hear the notes and is an excellent exercise for ensuring that you have internalized the melody or anything else in the music you'd want to copy. Making yourself one with your instrument has got to be the long term goal where you have got something you hear (in your head) that you can then play.

There are a few players who get there the long way around by taking the mechanical route and after many many years becoming one with their instrument. Many more never get there and will always play mechanically. Doesn't matter how much technical prowess they develop, you can hear them for a short while and get very bored because they obviously have nothing to say.

Ideally you need to develop both. Know the theory and understand the mechanics of music and develop you inner voice. Being able to hear what you want to play will make you a real musician.
 

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The basic elements you really need to know to get started is the major scale. You have to know it in all 12 keys. Once you have that down then the chords can be pulled from your knowledge of that scale. If you number all the notes of the scale then a
Major Triad is 1,3,5
Major 7th is 1,3,5,7
Minor Triad 1,b3,5
Minor 7th 1,b3,5,b7
Dominant 7th is 1,3,5b7
these are the basic chords you need to know to get started. So........if you have learned a D major scale then you will know that D Major is DEF#GABC#D
If you put a number under all those notes........
DMaj Triad would be DF#A
DMaj7 DF#AC#
D Minor Triad DFA (you flat the F# to make it a F)
D-7 DFAC (Flat the F# and C# to become F and C)
D7 DF#AC (flat the 7th C# to become C)

Every chord relates back to it's major scale if you learn it that way. The major scales is the first thing I have my young students memorize. It makes chord mastery that much easier.
 
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