Getting beyond scales and arpeggios

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Bruce Guttman 11 months ago. This post has been viewed 279 times

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  • #4072

    Dr. Jon Watson
    Participant

    I’m sure I’m not the only one asking or wishing to ask this question, but I know the scales and chord arpeggios to a tune, so why am I still not improvising well?

    My improvisation is very mechanical, and my phrasing is horrible compared to good jazz players I listen to (and I do listen to a lot of jazz). I think there’s a big piece of this puzzle I’m missing but I don’t know how to fix it.

    I’ve done a few transcriptions even though I find them difficult to do, thinking that playing the solos of others would help improve my jazz phrasing. But to my ears, when I’m improvising, I still sound like I’m just playing practiced material. Any help on how I move beyond this would be appreciated

    #4082

    Phillip Rios
    Participant

    One of the points in MIchael’s book called Jazz Ear Savvy was that we as players need to learn to play what’s on our minds.

    I think the point he’s making in that book is that we have an improv voice in our heads, but the link between mind and horn is difficult to establish and build upon.

    That’s the only advice I can give to you, other than to check out Jazz Ear Savvy and see if it helps you. I continue to struggle with my own improv.

    Cheers,
    Phillip
    phllprios@gmail.com

    #4392

    Bruce Guttman
    Participant

    As someone with the same problem, I can only offer that scales and arpeggios are like learning letters. You can’t write a book throwing out random letters; you have to create words, phrases, and sentences. You need ideas on which to hang the words and phrases.

    In my own limited improvisation I tend to simply embellish the melody. Everything on which you improvise has a tune under it. Use that as your basis. You will find certain embellishments can change the tone to somber or jubilant. That lets you add some feelings to the line you are playing.

    One big problem is that there really are no straightforward rules to good improvisation; i.e. do this and don’t do that. It’s more emotion and feel. Right brain as opposed to left brain.

    Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra

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