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  1. #1

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    Hello everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. Glad to be here!

    So, about a week ago, I decided to record myself improvising and I realised that I was intellectualising improvisation WAY too much. Most of the time, what I would play would sound dull and lifeless. And when it did feel lively, it would just make no sense: no clear melody, no clear direction, scraps of ideas all over the place, but no connection. I realised, to my greatest sadness, that I had stopped listening to the little voice in my head that sang me sweet melodies. So, what I did, was put down my guitar and sing! And I came up with stuff that I actually really liked! I decided that from now on, I would sing every solo I play.

    This is what what I've been doing for a week, and this has been a tremendous relief. But, and this is where the questions come in, I feel like I don't have as much liberty on my guitar as when I am singing alone with my hands free. Whenever I have the guitar in my hands, I have to focus really hard in order to get that little voice singing, and I can never hear more than one note ahead. Whereas when I'm singing with no guitar, I can come up with interesting melodies over several chord changes, and overall feel much more in control. What about your experience? Did you go through something similar? Is there any place for improvement? If yes, what can I do to improve? And should I be intellectualising things at all?

    Also, the melodies I hear on guitar are always very simple and feel very diatonic, which isn't the case when I only sing. It's not a bad thing, but I'd like to be able to come up with "jazzier" things. Is transcription the key here?

    Thank you!

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    Beginner here. I find myself in a similar position to you. The way I'm trying to tackle it is;

    (1) Isolate say 4 bars of a standard your working on and loop it.
    (2) Slow the tempo RIGHT DOWN, or double the length that each chord is played for (so for for one bar of Cm7 for two beats followed by F7 for two beats, you would play over Cm7 for one bar then F7 for a bar). The key is to find a tempo at which you are comfortable and have control over the melodies you’re coming up with. You can even do this rubato or free tempo, (but I like to use a real slow tempo so that I can practise things that make rhythmic sense, it can be done rubato but I find it more difficult)
    (3) As you solo, focus on singing first and finding the notes on the fretboard second. As you continue you'll get better at it, and you'll find your ideas are more melodic.

    Another variation is if you’re working on a specific concept (for instance for me it's either triadic playing or half step rules but it could be a lick I've transcribed), take a set stock phrase and play it on bar 1, then make up the rest of the phrase by singing in bar 2. Really helps to get the creative juices flowing and realising all the different ways you can play using one simple concept.
    Last edited by Brummy_Guitarist; 11-10-2020 at 07:02 AM.

  4. #3
    If you watch TILF Barry Harris videos on youtube, Chris essentially does this (but without the singing) for every concept he teaches. He briefly will outline some sort of melodic or harmonic concept, then he essentially improvises examples of how it might sound.

    It took me a while to realise, but I think that's essentially how you want to practise improvisation. Take focused ideas and concepts and then just shed them using trial and error (but guided by your ears).

  5. #4

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    I practice this by playing a song, kind of one chord or sequence at a time. Play the chord(s), stop, sing a line. Play that line. Next chord(s), repeat.

  6. #5

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    It's when the guitar and the voice in your head become as one then you will have arrived, grasshopper :-)

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato
    Whereas when I'm singing with no guitar, I can come up with interesting melodies over several chord changes, and overall feel much more in control.
    become a singer then.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato
    Hello everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. Glad to be here!

    So, about a week ago, I decided to record myself improvising and I realised that I was intellectualising improvisation WAY too much. Most of the time, what I would play would sound dull and lifeless. And when it did feel lively, it would just make no sense: no clear melody, no clear direction, scraps of ideas all over the place, but no connection. I realised, to my greatest sadness, that I had stopped listening to the little voice in my head that sang me sweet melodies. So, what I did, was put down my guitar and sing! And I came up with stuff that I actually really liked! I decided that from now on, I would sing every solo I play.

    This is what what I've been doing for a week, and this has been a tremendous relief. But, and this is where the questions come in, I feel like I don't have as much liberty on my guitar as when I am singing alone with my hands free. Whenever I have the guitar in my hands, I have to focus really hard in order to get that little voice singing, and I can never hear more than one note ahead. Whereas when I'm singing with no guitar, I can come up with interesting melodies over several chord changes, and overall feel much more in control. What about your experience? Did you go through something similar? Is there any place for improvement? If yes, what can I do to improve? And should I be intellectualising things at all?

    Also, the melodies I hear on guitar are always very simple and feel very diatonic, which isn't the case when I only sing. It's not a bad thing, but I'd like to be able to come up with "jazzier" things. Is transcription the key here?

    Thank you!
    Most guitarists noodle. It takes practice to move away from that; keep working at it!

    Don’t try to hear each note at a time, that’s a waste of time. Aim to hear phrases. Listen to phrases you like like on recordings, sing them, then play them.

    That’ll help.

  9. #8

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    I never used singing as a way to improve improvising on guitar. But I remember when I use to attempt scat singing, it seems I came up with some good Bebopish lines that I wouldn't achieve on the guitar.

    Maybe record yourself singing and transcribe what you sang? Overthinking what to play is something many of us go thru.

    To truly improvise freely, you might need to get your mind and body in the right space. Find a quiet, dark place to sit with your guitar and get in a meditative state. Your left brain is analyzing and trying to solve a problem. The right brain is where it's at for Jazz improvisation.

  10. #9
    Thank you! Lots of new ideas. Can't wait to get started.

    As you suggested Bobby, I believe I also have to work on getting in the right state of mind.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato
    Hello everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. Glad to be here!

    So, about a week ago, I decided to record myself improvising and I realised that I was intellectualising improvisation WAY too much. Most of the time, what I would play would sound dull and lifeless. And when it did feel lively, it would just make no sense: no clear melody, no clear direction, scraps of ideas all over the place, but no connection. I realised, to my greatest sadness, that I had stopped listening to the little voice in my head that sang me sweet melodies. So, what I did, was put down my guitar and sing! And I came up with stuff that I actually really liked! I decided that from now on, I would sing every solo I play.

    This is what what I've been doing for a week, and this has been a tremendous relief. But, and this is where the questions come in, I feel like I don't have as much liberty on my guitar as when I am singing alone with my hands free. Whenever I have the guitar in my hands, I have to focus really hard in order to get that little voice singing, and I can never hear more than one note ahead. Whereas when I'm singing with no guitar, I can come up with interesting melodies over several chord changes, and overall feel much more in control. What about your experience? Did you go through something similar? Is there any place for improvement? If yes, what can I do to improve? And should I be intellectualising things at all?

    Also, the melodies I hear on guitar are always very simple and feel very diatonic, which isn't the case when I only sing. It's not a bad thing, but I'd like to be able to come up with "jazzier" things. Is transcription the key here?

    Thank you!

  12. #11

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    The key to jazzier sounding lines is outlining more chords. The more you only play diatonically the more pedestrian it sounds and the less jazzy it sounds. This is something I've realized recently. Even if you listen to expert rock players who are only playing over 1 key center, where they could get away with only using 1 scale, they progress through implied chord changes in their solo to make it develop in a way that using 1 key center will never do. Give it a thought and a listen.

  13. #12

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    Chuck Wayne (as told to me many years ago by Carl Barry) worked out chord melodies with a separate chord for every note of the melody. Then, he tried to solo on every one of those chords.