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Has anyone had this? Especially lately, I've been stuck at a musician's block for writing my solo for my region and state improv and I can't seem to write anything good. It's weird because when I'm just improving on the top of my head, I'm usually okay, but when I try to write, I just can't seem to get anything good. How do some get out of a musician's block?
 

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Sounds like an oxymoron to be "writing an improv solo". OK, let's forget that you even said that. If you've got any type of recording gear do your "off the top of your head" trick, play it back and transcribe yourself.
 

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That's the problem. Our directors would prefer us to write out a solo and memorize it
 

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Writing out a solo is a good exercise. It's much like writing an etude. It forces you to organize your ideas and present them in a sensible manner with both harmonic and rhythmic accuracy. It's also a good way to learn how to incorporate any new harmonic and rhythmic components you are practicing. I generally would prefer for my students to improvis their solos in performance situations, but again, I think it's a great practice technique. The more of it you do, the easier it gets. If you write something you don't like, toss it and start again. Eventually you'll start to find things you like that you might not find by just blowing.

Randy
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Good points Randy. Also could be some interesting points for a student that come out of writing something yourself that has to be memorised.
Sounds to me Eugene like you're not happy/comfortable with the memorising part? This becomes especially odious if you've not written anything very good to play doesn't it?

My reaction isn't that it's not a good exercise to write or memorise anything, just reacting to the bizarre notion that one writes an improvisation. It's still an oxymoron.
 

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How do some get out of a musician's block?
Can you sing, hum, or scat a solo? If so, record that and transcribe it. It's a great way to break out of trite, easy licks that you may already abuse.
 

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...just reacting to the bizarre notion that one writes an improvisation. It's still an oxymoron.
Yeah, I sure agree with you on this Wade. Maybe it's just semantics, but I guess I'd call writing it out 'composing.' The very definition of improvising seems to negate the idea of writing anything down. Although someone might write it down after the fact.
 

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What of improvised solos that never get written yet they get repeated time and again?
 

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What of improvised solos that never get written yet they get repeated time and again?
Good point. I'd say they are no longer improvised solos, when repeated note-for-note. I'll be the first to admit I have a few of these I do on certain tunes. But when I'm playing a 'canned solo' like this, I'm not improvising, even if I did improvise it the first time around.

Just on a side note, on some tunes I play the same thing on the first chorus of a solo, then improvise (play something new) for the rest of the solo.

To me, improvise means you are playing something new. I realize there is a gray area; even the newly improvised material will likely have some licks or phrases that are part of your vocabulary. Hard to get away from that and I don't think you have to. Unless you want to and have the ability to come up with totally fresh ideas every time....

p.s. I just thought of something, based on Dr G's comment. If you have a solo you're repeating (I would assume that means you like it), then it might be well worth writing it out. Not to read it, since you obviously already know it, but for the purpose of really seeing what you've been doing and as a practice technique (as Randy suggests). I think I might give that a go with a couple of solos I find myself repeating. For me, writing stuff out like this takes a lot of patience (which probably means I should be doing it on occasion).
 

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That's the problem. Our directors would prefer us to write out a solo and memorize it
I'm still back with Wade, trying to come to grips with the oxymoron.

But if you have to memorize an original solo that you improvised/composed and wrote out, then yeah -- turn on the recorder, blow a few dozen choruses over the changes, then go back and write down the phrases that you like. Then cut and paste them around and see if you can construct a nice logical solo that carries through the entire chorus. You might even get 1 good solo out of just blowing. Write it down. Lather, rinse, repeat.
 

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Well take a high school kid who is new to jazz guys. They don't have the language yet. They don't hear the phrases like us who have listened our whole lives. Yeah, ok it sounded bizzare to me too I won't lie. However, Randy makes some good points about the merits of the exercise.

Does anyone remember their first year trying to improv? :) There simply wasn't very much in my head to work from. I am not saying the OP is brand new. But it takes a while.
 
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