Learning to improvise

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by nickenator, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

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    Aug 14, 2005
    When I was in high school, a neighboring school's band boosters used to bring in several bands a year for concerts and clinics (Kenton, Ferguson, Herman, etc.)
    One year, in addition to a concert, Kenton's band did a daytime clinic. The band started by playing a couple of tunes. We were all familiar with the band members
    and who played what chair. I noticed there was a new trumpet player down on the end, a young guy maybe 18 or so with long hair and wire rimmed glasses.
    During the first piece there was a jazz solo and this kid just blew the doors down....really got my attention.

    Later at the trumpet player sectional, somebody asked him how he learned to improvise...."I just played with Jamey Aebersold records all the time."

    The guy's name was Tim Hagans.

    bigtiny
     
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Dayton, Ohio
    Perhaps this livens it up a bit:

    All beat, includin' jazz, 'esists widin some certain beato-structure which defines such puh'fo'mative basics as harmony, melody, rhydm and tempo, and, mo'e fundamentally, fo'm and composishun. Unlikes oda' beatal fo'ms, which rely on some tight script and/o' conducto', jazz contains few if any constraints on puh'fo'mative style and interpretashun. All dat jazz needs in terms uh structure be a set uh consensual guidelines and agreements which we conceptualize as 'minimal structures'. Minimal structures is comprised by two elements, dig dis: social structures and technical structures. Jazz be puh'fo'med in some turbulent tax' environment whereby de turbulence results fum de dynamic process uh beatal invenshun and da damn dynamic process uh coo'dinatin' invenshun. Minimal structure constrains de turbulence uh de jazz by specifyin' particular ways uh inventin' and coo'dinatin' beatal ideas.

    Social structures in JI is conceptualized largely in terms uh behavio'al no'ms and communicative codes. Behavioural no'ms include, dig dis: de nominal leader, who decides which beats t'play and in whut key; de soloist, who determines de style and embellishment; and da damn use uh a cho'us, which restates de basic deme. Band members use some combinashun uh hand signals and eye contact t'communicate change in tempo, de beginnin' and endin' uh soloin', call-and-response 'shanges, and so's fo'd. Technical skills refers t'de techno-structural and puh'fo'mative convenshuns uh jazz beat as well as de variety and combinashun uh talents, skills and capabilities dat members brin' t'de ensemble. Dis requires two elements, dig dis: cognitively held rules fo' generatin' and buildin' downon new beatal ideas, includin' rules fo' 'beatal grammar'. Mo'e specifically, dis refers t'de basic procedures in jazz deo'y fo' definin' and selectin' de basic fo'm uh de beat: de key, cho'ds, cho'dal relashunships and cho'dal progression. 'S coo', bro. De second element be de template, some beat, cho'us o' riff. De beat be a basic template downon which beatians kin generate innovative variashun.

    Dere be mo'e t'de sto'y, but dis be de beginnin' uh de basics. Enjoy. Slap mah fro!
     
  3. amzi

    amzi Forte User

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    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    I'm not saying this is the best way--it may not even be a good way--but it's the way I learned and the only way I know. It's been working for me for 45 years. Listen to a recording of a song, learn to play it by ear--note for note. Then change a note here, and a note there until you can go completely through the song, improvising all the way. Of course the more you do this the less you have to be familiar with the song before you can improvise on it. I have developed a more lyrical style of improv than is typical today, and I think that's one of the results of learning to improvise the way I did. My style is somewhat like Billy Hunt's take on Days of Wine and Roses Woody Herman and his Swingin' Herd 1964 (vaimusic.com) - YouTube. May not work for you, but it has for me.
     
  4. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    Oct 22, 2008
    Maryland
    Nice reply by amzi and others.

    Let me add a more philosophical answer.

    Asking "how to improvise" is like asking how to become a classical trumpet player. It's a long and evolutionary process. That's why we're getting so many good and varied answers.

    Mike
     
  5. phittle

    phittle Pianissimo User

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    May 9, 2008
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Start by learning your instrument…thoroughly…all modes….all scales. While you are doing this start listening to any and everyone in every style. Don't forget to go back and listen to early Louis Armstrong (DON'T start with Clifford Brown!) Learn the 12 bar blues form…the 16 and 32 bar song form (16,8,8 I Got Rhythm changes) Aebersold play alongs Volumes I, III, Blues in All Keys, Rhythm Changes in All Keys are all good. Constant listening to all styles of Jazz is important. Improvisors steal ideas from everyone. Good luck. Learning to improvise is the most liberating process you will ever learn. Being able to "compose" spontaneously.
     
  6. phittle

    phittle Pianissimo User

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    May 9, 2008
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    I neglected to mention that learning to improvise is an "on going" process. At age 57, I still LEARN SOMETHING on every gig from all the great players I've been privileged to hang with. You never will get to the point where "you know it all"…If you think that…then something is very wrong.
     
  7. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    phittle sez:
    "DON'T start with Clifford Brown! Learn the 12 bar blues form first"
    ---
    Ain't that the truth. The quickest way to a fast decline is to strap on something you absolutley do not have the prerequisite for. That's like saying "Hey kid, so you got a guitar for christmas. Here's some John Mclaughlin and Segovia sheet music for you to learn.
    Dr.Mark
     
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Dayton, Ohio
    The technical skills component of 'Minimal Structure'. Thanks for continuing to provide supportive evidence to this dead poet.
     
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Another technical skill component of the 'Minimal Structure' paradigm. The support keeps coming. Thank you men.
     
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    18,108
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    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    How do you communicate? How do you Improvise? The answer is one in the same and it is complex. Improvisation is all about communication. The answer is in learning the technical and social skills of 'Minimal Structure'. An accomplished improviser will know how to make their notes talk, to tell the rest of the story behind the ensembles blue print, and the audiences' desire.
     

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