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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Re: Improvisation in the General forums; Hi, I need to improve my musicality (such a word?) and work on my improvistaion skills..they stink!! This was highlighted ...
  1. #1
    Mezzo Forte User
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    Re: Improvisation

    Hi,

    I need to improve my musicality (such a word?) and work on my improvistaion skills..they stink!! This was highlighted by a routine at big band the other night when we were playing a relatively easy piece, 'Mac the Knife' but the changes weren't happening. The lead player says 'Ok we play the melody by ear and then play through the changes so that your ear picks up the point'. Well thought I could do it, but man I struggled and by the 2nd verse everyone around me is wailing away and I'm still trying to put the melody together!! I know it all comes with practice and I like to think I have a reasonable ear.

    I do get to play the odd solo but generally have to take it home and work on it and even then my solo's are fairly bland (and not exactly improvised). Does anybody have any suggestions about some literature or CDs that I can buy which will help me cement the whole concept together or am I chasing the 'Holy Grail'.

    Regards

    Trevor

  2. #2
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    First of all: LISTEN!!! The more Jazz you listen to, the more you will open your ears and begin to understand the concepts of improvisation:
    Call and Response, Repitition.
    Get Jamey Aebersold's "Major & Minor"and improvise diatonically with the tracks, this will allow you to develop improvisational sense and rythmic diversity utilizing scale tones. Learn solos by the greats: "Cornet Chop Suey" by Pops is a great place to begin. Follow up with Miles and Chet - Learn to sing the solos as well as play them on your horn. Also, check out Jim Snidero's improv series. Joe Magnarelli is the player on the trumpet version.
    Above all, LISTEN!!!
    A great tune to listen to and get improv "hints" is "Moanin'" -
    Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (original version with Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt). The Tune and the Solos all contain the basic elements: Call & Response, Repitition, a touch of the Blues. LISTEN!!! Improvise everyday and DON'T GET DISCOURAGED!!! The more you listen and the more you play the better it will get!!!

  3. #3
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    you know the blues scale?
    1, 3flt,4,5flt, 5,7flt, 8?
    1946 Martin Committee, Bach 5V

  4. #4
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    There are several ways to learn to improvise. When I started over 40 years ago there weren't so many books and written methods. I learned by playing along with the current "pop" music on good old "WNEW in New York". Sinatra, Peggy Lee, etc. were what I used. I learned the song by ear, then played embellishments on the melody, then went on from there. Nobody told me anything about the changes. I learned to hear the chords, hear what sounded good to me and play it.
    After a while, I found that I'd be playing along, enjoying what was coming out of the horn and notice that I had no idea what key I was in. It didn't matter. I was playing completly by ear.
    This worked well enough to get me a lot of gigs in H.S., mostly playing frat parties and small wedding receptions. Piano, bass, drums and me on trumpet and valve 'bone with no music. The piano player knew the changes to practically everything, so we could fake requests.
    People don't seem to learn this way very much anymore. The solos tend to be more technical now and, IMNSHO, less lyrical.
    John
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  5. #5
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    Hi,

    Thank's for the input it's much appreciated. James I am aware of the blues scale..the problem lies with me being able to turn it into anything meaningful (apart from a scale). I think I may have to buy some of the Jamie Abersold stuff to get me kick started and then just listen and imitate.

    Call,response,repetition is a concept I haven't worked on and sounds like a great way to put structure around an improvisation..at least it'll stop me just running up and down scales (don't you just hate it when the sax player does that?)

    Thanks for all the help.

    Regards


    Trevor

  6. #6
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    here's some advice given to me...
    when you're playing on the blues scale and you don't know what to hit... just hit flat 3.

    I can't give u much more... cept listen. and whenever you pick up your horn, just start playin licks. just play w/e is in your head. it's like playing high, you need to practice it, and practice it a lot.

  7. #7
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    scales can be and should be music.

    if you listen to Count Basie 'kansas city seven' on impulse label the intro that count makes on 'lady be good' is nothing but a scale.

    many fantastic solos are made from simple structures that are played and placed in a MUSICAL context with feeling.

    listen to 'Clifford Brown with strings' for playing the melody with feeling.
    1946 Martin Committee, Bach 5V

  8. #8
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    Well, this is how I learned how to play Jazz. Well kinda, I've still got a ton to learn. I just listened to as many players and as much jazz as I could until I had a specific sound in my head that I wanted. Then, I would pick 3 or 4 tunes a week, learned them in one key until I didn't have to look at the changes, then learn them in a couple other keys... Eb, F, G, and so on. After a while of this, I was ok, but still played licks that I felt where stale, and pretty boring to me. So, I started transcribing. I found solos I liked, that had a lot of good ideas, and started learning them. First I got Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" , Cherokee, and Jordu. Then, I moved on to Blues. Freddie Hubbard's Birdlike. Hank Morgan's "Shout", Lee Morgan playing slow blues. Then, very late on, I started learning the intricacies of the blues. If I could give you some advice it would be to start by learning the blues, transcribing some blues solos (Freddie H's Birdlike is EXCELLENT) and learning the form. What I've described above, is not all inclusive, but the important part of my struggle, and was a process that has taken around 3 years. I am not great yet, but I've gotten a ton better. Something that Bobby Shew told me was this:
    Everything you listen to goes into an internal database. If you listen to crap, you will play crap. Find something you like, listen to it, memorize it and know it.
    -J
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  9. #9
    New Friend Big Phat Jan's Avatar
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    I'm not sure anyone's suggested this yet, but listen!

    Ha, it can always do with being said again - it's the most important aspect of ALL music.

    Ta ta, Jan.

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    I know that this is going to sound overused, but listening is the best possible way to get better at soloing. Phrasing and ideas all come from listening constantly. I remember when I first started soloing, and I sounded like crap, completely wrong style, poor phrasing, wrong notes. I tried various books and would ask people questions as much as I could -- still didn't get better. But after I started listening at least an hour a day, I began to sound significantly better. I'd say, a great cat to listen to is Clifford Brown, his style, phrasing and sound were all virtually perfect. Some other great guys include: Lee Morgan, Tom Harrell, Miles, Donald Byrd (early stuff 50's), and Art Farmer. My list goes on and on, but the music of the cats that I just mentioned, if listened to carefully and frequently can really make one a significantly better jazz player.
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