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My Improv Sucks


VictorClarke

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Thanks to everyone who helped me on discovering how the decode not so common time signatures, it's helped me a lot. Now, for my next obstacle. As a mostly self taught player, (I took lessons for a better portion of a year, though they only included the basics of the bass...nothing too deep) I've found myself quite lost when it comes to improvising. Recently though I've found it's helped me if I put on my favorite record and solo with that, listening for the ideas Ray Brown etc... puts into my head while playing my own. So far that has helped me play past the few licks I've already internalized in me. If anyone has any inquiry that would help me and my lack of interesting solos that would be awesome. Thanks again
When the music's over.
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Baby steps, man. Start with finding the root and locking with the drummer. Stick that, then start throwing in thirds, trying to figure if you are in a major or minor. Stick that, throw in a couple of fifths and octaves. Watch the chorus guitar's hand. Most of the the time his forefinger is going to root the chord he is playing.

 

Just wrote a bass line for a nu-metal song with my son's band by listening to the track and watching my son play. Most times I'm good with just majors and minors, they guys wouldn't know a Mixolydian from a mixed drink

 

Oh, and DON'T focus on whether or not what you are doing sucks. It takes a bit, but when it finally clicks ... WHAM!

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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Learn as many solos by as many different players as possible. Starting with Ray Brown solos is definately a good start...keep at it.

 

Singing with your playing is another good idea, one that I always do. It helps you break your playing into phrases.

 

Remember that when you're improvising a solo, you're really composing a melody on the spot. Try to make it sound like a melody and not a collection of "licks."

 

Taping yourself and listening to the result will help you figure out if you're on the right track.

 

Good luck! :thu:

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Learn a tune and its chord sequence really well before you practise soloing on it if you're going to solo unaccompanied.

 

Try to find your own patterns that you like that work over e.g a ii V 1 in C, then transpose them

 

Leave lots of rests, try to imagine breathing between phrases.

 

Start phrases on different beats.

 

Be conscious of the highest and lowest notes you are playing.

 

Try to set yourself limitations, e.g. try soloing with the fewest notes possible, or only using chord tones.

 

Avoid the fourth on major chords

 

Play with passion!

 

What the other guys said.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the guys really have some great suggestions for you, VictorClarke. (By the way, how is it going so far?)

 

I'd just add: don't give up on formal music education (e.g., "lessons"). It's not a prerequisite for being a musician, but they won't hurt you, either. If you took lessons from a music store before, try your local community college. Or check your local weekly "entertainment" paper for ads. Or ask around. Or go see a local group play and ask the bass player if s/he could give you lessons, or could recommend someone.

 

A g****r player I play with is entirely self taught. He learned to solo by listening to his favorite players. Whenever he solos it sounds like Jimmy Page meets Eddie Van Halen meets Eric Clapton... Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but it comes partly from stringing their licks together. (He sounds great playing covers from his influences.)

 

On the other hand, learning all the music theory in the world won't necessarily make you a better improvisor. (Do you need lessons to learn theory? No, but it's a pretty big topic and it's helpful to have someone guide your way throught it.) You still have to be able to apply it. That's where practice comes in.

 

Here's another idea. On another thread here someone said they like to throw "Popeye the Sailor Man" into their solo. I usually hear this kind of thing more in jazz, but don't be afraid to try it yourself no matter what style you're playing. Find a melody you like. Doesn't have to be something you've heard another bass play; look to other instruments (and voice) for inspiration. Don't overdo it though; it can wear out it's "cute" factor. (The other night in the middle of a keyboard solo I heard "When the Saints go Marching In" ... it was subtle and worked great!)

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