RE: How do I improvise to hymns without a written sheet note.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tjer52, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. tjer52

    tjer52 New Friend

    Nov 24, 2009
    I play trumpet in my church and mostly I give special number in solo to hyms I know. But lately I've been invited by the church choir to join them on a regular basis and perform, even to songs that I may not have sheet note for. My question is how do I improvise and still sound fairly good.
  2. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Depending on the choir's source of music, a hymnal or even a fake-book can provide enough of a skeleton to build on. Scales and arpeggios work well to fill the holes, and 6-5 or 9-1 suspensions can be effective. But don't forget that the idea is to paint the text rather than steal the show.
  4. tjer52

    tjer52 New Friend

    Nov 24, 2009
    Thanks Vulgano. Please can you explain what you mean by "and 6-5 or 9-1 suspensions"
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Just experiment a lot at home before going public. I think the best start for improvisation is NOT with a book, rather just play by ear. Listen to what others do and try to emulate. The problem with a book is you maintain dependencies. A player has to have the guts to stand up and do something - in the beginning perhaps primitive, but with time very well suited. Once you have no problem playing by ear, a bit of formal "organization" will provide new inspiration.
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    In the key of C, on a c chord, the 6-5 would entail an a, resolving to a g, and the 9-1 a d resolving to a c. Sometimes you can just let them sit to build tension. What you are being asked to do is improvise; Baroque and Renaissance traditions have their own "rules," as does jazz. There is plenty of information on the theory of improvisation online.
  7. songbook

    songbook Piano User

    Apr 25, 2010
    I've had pretty good luck with The Celebration Hymnal. Almost 700 hymns with a little descant to make them sound interesting. I use it alot at hymn sings. Good luck.
  8. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    If a note truly sounds wretched? Take it up a half step. The next higher note will almost always be an improvement. Then try and listen for the root and major/minor third of the chord. I will usually settle on the major third more times than not. It's always a good harmony for the cornet.

    Lets say the choir is on a C chord but you don't know it. And you've just hit the nasty F#. By going up a half step you're on the fifth. Either stay there or move elsewhere.

    Another example. In the key of C and you hit the awful G# ? Go up a half step to the major sixth. Which although still not in the chord is a good passing tone.

    In a short while you'll be flying around the scale. It's like driving a car for the first time and you're terrified. Soon enough though you get carefree. Be careful not to over embellish.
  9. guitarsrmine

    guitarsrmine Piano User

    Dec 29, 2008
    Franklin, Pa
    I play trumpet in my church praise band, and never use music.They usually do a mix of contemporary/traditional, and I ad-lib the whole time. Course,Ive been playing for 42 years, so improvising comes easy for me. Just listen to what they are doing, and remember-fit IN....dont take over. Good luck,and LISTEN!!! Did I say listen????
  10. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    Learn to play the entire hymn/song by ear first. Then change a note here and a note there--the resolutions Vulgano Brother wrote about, as well as the scales and arpeggios he mentioned. Gradually change and add more notes staying within the framework of the song. Experiment all you want in practice and rehearsal; but make sure you know what to do and it sounds good during the performance. Finally--a trick--the tenor part is usually the most musically interesting part--learn to play the tenor part with a grace note here and a run there--play it an octave above the written part and it usually sounds pretty good.

    Just to clarify that last part. You have to read the base clef, transpose it into Bb and take it up an octave so the written B atop the bass staff is third space C# in the treble staff. Not as hard as it sounds.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011

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