4 Steps to Melodic Improvisation – guitar lesson with tablatures and jamtracks

This lesson was originally written for Tyler Correl’s website. But now has been moved here. Enjoy improvising!

When i’m in a creative situation like improvising a solo, I try to go by intuition and not think too logical. Keep ears open, hear the music and let it out!

I’ve found that when improvising or composing melodies, once I’ve gotten the chord changes in my head, melodies usually start to pop out naturally. Important is not to rush right in with the guitar, but to listen to the chordprogression first. Perhaps, when preparing I might play the chords along a loop. Sooner or later I start hearing notes and little pieces of melodic lines inside my head.

I believe in music the first thing is that comes is the rhythm. A stimulating rhythm can really get you to the groove. When the rhythm is driving you, you start hearing how the notes should fall into places.

THERE IS HARMONY (Theory warning!!!)
Then there’s is the harmony. I like to hear and see chords more like scales and modes. If there’s two chords changing, I see it as two keys, scales or modes changing.
I’m a humble guy when it comes to theory but I can tell you that this chord progression comeis with two chords A major (a, #c, e notes) and E minor (e, g, b notes). One bar each. The way these two chords are related, makes it natural to start hearing A mixolydian (a, b, #c, d, e, #f, g) and E ( e, #f, g, a, b, #c, d) dorian modes tonalities changing. Both of these modes belong to D Major scale. Good!

With a little alteration you consider entering the tonal world of Melodic Minor aswell. All you need to do is sharpen the d note. A mixolydian #4 (a, b, #c, #d, e, #f, g)and E melodic minor ( e, #f, g, a, b, #c, #d) would sound slighlty more exotic. But we shall save this exotica to some other time.

Enough with analysis and theories.Shut up, listen, and play yer guitar!


Put the guitar away. Listen to the backing track. A major and E minor chord changing. Listen to it focused and try to come up with melodies. Try to hear the melodies inside your head or if that is hard just sing along the loop.

4 steps to melodic Improvisation – Jam track

Once you’re hearing a little piece of melody inside your head, pick up the guitar. Now find the notes on the guitar.

This is what I came up with.

Improvisation – Motive

Next it’s good to start exploring and playing around with the motive. I started jamming on the guitar. I tried creating variations of the motive. Playing it different ways and all around the guitar neck. Also ended up writing a mini solo that nicely variates the motive.

Improvisation – Mini solo
Improvisation – Minisolo (slow)


By creating this mini solo I now got some soloing ideas. I could treat the ideas freely in longer improvisation. I feel that this mini solo was like a preparation for this longer solo.
I started the improvisation with the motive but soon got away from the written one. Found other spontaneous themes as well. Most of the time I went after what I heard inside my head. But there were few moments where the fingers and guitar took the control.
There was a funny situation, when I suddenly found a trace to a melody that I had written about a half a year ago for one orchestral composition. I revisited the theme (0.30 – 0:40 on the audio track) for a while and then moved on to other things.

If you’re not a master improviser I suggest starting very easy and slow. Playing very little notes and simple stuff is good. Keep the stuff simple. Practice often and you’ll find things will expand and speed up naturally. Speed is definitely not the first thing here. Keep it simple and melodic!

Mr. Fastfinger 4 steps improvisation – Demo solo

Ears are musicians most important tools. Listen to music that will expand your harmonic world. Get the music inside your head. Very important is to practice the way of getting the music out of your head through your instrument. Great way to begin this is to sing a simple melody (or even just random interval of two notes), then find out how play it on your instrument.

Remember there are no rules, no rights and wrongs in music. No, actually there is one rule: be you and do you own thing!


Thoughts on studying and learning

Some thoughts on studying and learning new stuff.

After the release of “The Way of the Exploding Guitar” I took some quality time on studying music theories and stuff that had always puzzled me. Also went into studying the modes of harmonic and especially melodic minor. Checked out a lot of books and videos. Then figured out my own ways of understanding things. Now when I’m listening to some of new tracks I can really hear a lot of musical progress in many directions. This is exactly what I wanted.

It’s really, really important to master all the fingerings of all scales and arpeggios etc. But most imporant is to get the tone of these into your ear. To be able to sing it. Best way to really master stuff is simply start using the new stuff. Making music out of it. And what happens is the when you really master a scale or mode, you suddenly start hearing many opportunities to apply them in music. New worlds are open for you.

Oh and fear not. Despite some melodic minor modes and stuff. The new album is definetly not jazzy. Altough it can be a bit trippy!


Mr. Fastfinger’s Guitar lessons

This is the guitar dojo. The place where all the visions and wisdoms are revealed. Techniques, scales and modes, patterns, rhythm tips, mental ideas, excercises, influences, special approaches and more. Also under “Shut Up and Play” you will find a collection of backing tracks that can be used for your practicing purposes. Use them wisely!
Full song and solo tablatures can also be found under “Transcriptions”. Practice hard!

Sensei Fastfinger

P.S. What would you like to know? Feel free to leave your ideas and comments below.


Guitar Shred Show

Just a tip for the ones who never saw Fastfinger animated Flash site. A great and entertaining source of bad ass licks is the classic GuitarShredShow.com. For starters choose “The Mountain of the Tapping Dwarves”. Once you’ve learned everything try out “Magic Carpet Tour” for more licks, it will also give you vivid tour in all 7 modes of the major scale.