This lesson was originally written for Tyler Correl’s website. But now has been moved here. Enjoy improvising!
MELODIC APPROACH TO SOLO IMPROVISATION
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.
THERE IS RHYTHM
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!
STEP 1: LISTEN
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.
STEP 2 : PLAY THE NOTES OF YOUR MOTIVE
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.
STEP 3 : WRITE A MINI SOLO
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.
STEP 4 : THE IMPROVISATION
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!
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!