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!


4 Steps to Melodic Improvisation

4 Steps to Melodic Improvisation Backing

This lesson was commissioned by Tyler Correll. I met Tyler many years ago in this place called the internet. Now he is having a series of guest lessons on his site. He then requested Mr. Fastfinger to do a lesson. His lesson series has a challenge to stay within 4 measures. Aaargh, I couldn’t do it! I simply had to do 6 bars to express my ideas properly with the mini solo. And this was the point when I really got carried away…

Theoretically speaking I’m swpping between the tones of A mixolydian and E dorian modes (both from D major scale) but please read the actual lesson for further written explanations. You’ll also find tablatures and audio at Tyler’s site: http://tylercorrell.com/sounds-of-the-soul/
It will be there very soon for you.
Please check it out in order to better understand the whole concept of these 4 steps!

I hope you will enjoy this one. It’s one way to approach improvisation. Atleast this works for me. Thank you to Tyler for making me do this lesson.
Also thank you to Thomas Törnroos for the Drum beats.

Give this approach a try!
Look forward hearing feedback from you.
Also questions are always welcome,

Be sure to subscribe to MrFastfingerNet YouTube channel!


Glissando Gestures

Here’s something that came out after thinking of those glissando slides. A short calm down improvisation. Enjoy!

Mr. Fastfinger – Glissando Gestures


Glissando – Inspiration from other instruments

How to find fresh ideas? Always keep ears and mind open. When in search of new ideas you can also you can try to simulate sounds from different instruments. Here’s one idea that come’s to my mind: How about that synthesizer portamento thing you can do between two notes. My old trusty Yamaha synthesizer has a really cool Glissando feature. Always been into that tone. How it would sound on guitar?


Master of the Sky Guitar: Uli Jon Roth

I thought it was time to introduce you to one of my biggest sources of inspiration: Uli Jon Roth. He’s one of the ultimate guitar gurus. A true guitar hero and also a founder of the Neo-Classical guitar style.


The Sketch Book

Earlier we discussed here about developing unique ideas. Here’s one simple tool that can seriously help you. Big time!


Developing your unique style

What tips you could offer when jamming and finding your own unique style and ways to approach?

Calm down, don’t rush. Remember guitar playing is not a sport or competition. You are making music and a personal statement. What is your mission? Breath in, breath out, listen to you heart and follow it.


Inpiration to your melodies

“Can you tell us how do you think melodies? My melodies sounds ordinary and I dont like them. I just wanna know how to make them quirky, more interesting, angular, weird riffs or melodies? “
Anonymous (09/08/2008 – Mr.Fastfinger blog)