Tips for improv?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Nealium, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. akinsgre

    akinsgre Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    In addition to my first post, Here's some literature suggestions that may help enhance your musical tool kit:
    Jamey Abersold play alongs (Start with an easy one!) Ebay (go used).
    Jamey Aebersold's how to improv pamphlet.
    Jazz Improv Magazine (out of print but still available on Ebay. Lots of learning here!!)
    Forward Motion by Hal Galper
    Intermediate Jazz Improvisation by Bouchard
    Th Art of Jazz Trumpet by McNeil
    Intervalic Improvisation by Weiskoph
    Charlie Parker Omnibook
    Chromaticism and non Diatonic Scales by Liebman
    Phil Woods Transcribed Solos
    Artists Share Maria Schneider play along
    Trumpets Eleven by Jackson
    Bebop Heads (any one of several books that have the heads of popular bebop songs:Salt Peanuts, Ornithology, ect.)
    Hope this helps
  3. Tarh331_Dad

    Tarh331_Dad Piano User

    Jan 14, 2014

    Play around with your piece, over and over and over, at an extreme LARGO/GRAVE/LARGHISSIMO - ideas don't come to you at the speed of light - they come very very SLOWLY and painstakingly.

    Know your chord processions/progressions, and know whether you should or shouldn't flatten or sharpen a scalar note within a chord vis-a-vis the presence or absence of upcoming modulations.

    Learn your classical music theory.

    Know how to make an Alto voice shadow a Soprano voice by a sixth; know how to make a Soprano voice overshadow an Alto voice by a third [or a sixth].*

    Know how to make your voice head down when everyone else is headed up, and vice versa: How to head on up when everyone else is headed back down.

    Learn about suspensions and dissonance - especially holding a mildly dissonant note too long in order to mask a no-no like a parallel fourth or a parallel fifth.

    Learn about "rhythmic" suspensions - if everyone else is moving on the downbeat, you move on the upbeat.

    Then mix and match techniques: Everyone else headed up on the downbeat? Then maybe you'll show 'em and head down on the upbeat.

    Play around with the SIMPLEST MUSIC POSSIBLE - practice your ideas on "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Mary Had a Little Lamb", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" - and throw as many different techniques at those simple folk songs as your mind can imagine and as the tunes can support.

    *Parallel Thirds and Parallel Sixths comprise just about 99% of all known musical arranging. Master your parallel thirds and parallel sixths before you do anything else.

    As a good [and necessary exercise]: Take every melody you encounter [classical, folk, dixieland, jazz, swing, bop, rock, fusion] and study its four forms:

    A) Parallel Sixth beneath it
    B) Parallel Third beneath it
    C) Parallel Third above it
    D) Parallel Sixth above it

    Grill yourself as to which of the four work, and which do not.

    Think about which of them might or might not be introducing no-nos like Parallel Fourths and Parallel Fifths into the underlying chord progression.

  4. Tarh331_Dad

    Tarh331_Dad Piano User

    Jan 14, 2014
    Also, if you don't have a keyboard, then get one NOW!!!

    Any $50 to $75 child's keyboard on Craigslist will do just fine.

    And if you feel like spending a little extra money, then look for something like a Yamaha P-Series.

    For about $200, you could pick up an old battle-ax like a Yamaha P-200.

    And for about $300, you could pick up something silky-smooth like a Yamaha P-60.

    Then print up your blank sheet music, sit down at the keyboard, and experience writer's block.

    If you tear up 99 attempts at a voicing of a riff as being too dumb or too corny or too hollow or too dissonant, until finally the 100th attempt starts to sound like something which doesn't completely embarrass you, then WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD.

    It's called "sweat equity" for a reason.
  5. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Very good suggestions! Bravo!
    And if you get lost in the rhythm, listen for the hi-hat
  6. Nealium

    Nealium New Friend

    Jan 9, 2015
    Very good advice, everyone. More music theory study, lots of memorization, and learning of each song I'm playing inside and out. Ideas come with time. Meanwhile, just listen and transcribe more solos.

    Thank you for the other resources as well. The Abersold books are the only things I've been reading, but I haven't really had enough guidance through them. Just been playing them over and over.
  7. Michael T. Doublec

    Michael T. Doublec Pianissimo User

    Nov 20, 2014
    Listen to a lot of different artists. Attempt to transcribe the solos you like and think you could handle technically. I have found I learn more from transcribing than from trying other ways. Know your scales, know your chord structures and after a few transcriptions, you will learn to trust your ears. Play with a lot of different players. One of their ideas or sounds may rub off on you. You would be surprised to know many artists use their technical studies as a base to improvise. If you listen to Clark Terry, or Don Ellis, Doc Severinson and then transcribed any of their solos, you would discover you may already know the scale or lick because it came from the Arban book or other technical studies. Also, I think Microsoft has a program on their digital player to slow down the speed of the song without altering the pitch. Back in the 60's and 70's when I began transcribing if something was too fast to actually hear cleanly, I would turn the turntable to 16 which is just about half of 33 1/3 rpms most records were played at. This effectively cut the speed in half, but everything was an octave lower. It worked well enough, but I do love the new technology. Good luck and keep playing!

    Mike Fesi
  8. Nealium

    Nealium New Friend

    Jan 9, 2015
    I've been hearing everyone talk about that. How sometimes players will use licks in Arbans or Clarke. I took a quick skim of my Arbans and a few of the Clarke studies to try and find a little section that could work as a fast little 4 bar phrase. I just don't really think of those books being "jazzy". Do I just "jazz up" a lick I find in there?
  9. Bay Area Brass

    Bay Area Brass Piano User

    Mar 2, 2007
    San Francisco
    DON'T get your jazz vocabulary form Arbans or Clarke-no knock on those books as I use them every day. Listen to jazz and the great innovators and stylists-there you will build your vocabulary and understand the feel and style of not only jazz as a whole, but different styles of playing within jazz.

    We don't learn foreign languages only from learning the alphabet (scales) or looking at books (theory)-we learn by listening to people speak it, as well as speaking it with others. In addition, listen to players besides trumpet players and don't forget the importance of the blues. Lot's of good advice in the above posts!
  10. Tarh331_Dad

    Tarh331_Dad Piano User

    Jan 14, 2014
    And listen to the sounds in your own mind.

    Take a little pseudo-melody/riff/whatever, which you are "humming" in your head, and then force your mouth to hum it [or your lips to whistle it] in actual real world "Meat Space", and then force your hand to write it down in musical notation on a piece of paper.

    People with true musical "gifts" don't have to go through this level of analysis - they just grab the instrument and start playing something.

    And to a certain extent, they're like idiot savants, or even songbirds - they don't know WHY they're playing what they're playing - it just happens, and their reptilian brainstem just KNOWS how to make it happen on the instrument which they're playing.

    The rest of us, though, have to go through the grueling drudgery of analyzing what we think we hear in our imaginations, transcribing it into something like standard musical notation, and then recreating on our instruments.

    BTW, a very high percentage of people with true musical gifts seem to be pathologically incapable of learning to read musical notation [much less learning to write musical notation] - with many of them, it's as though they're incapable of standing back, and seeing the forest for the trees, and isolating themselves from their musical gifts, and analyzing what they're doing.

    As though they're the songbird which can never leave the forest - the songbird which just goes about its merry way, flying through the forest and whistling as it works [or as it tries to romance another songbird during mating season].

    Either that, or else they're just too lazy to learn to read and write music.

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