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Do you always know what you're playing?


delirium

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Just wander, do you guys always know what you're playing during improvisation. I meant do you know what progression, pattern, what you gonna play next after these particular cords etc.

If yes, isn't that a little non artistic/creative approach?

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On the subject of whether knowing what you're playing next equates to a non-artistic/creative approach, I would compare it to a painter. Just because he knows what colour he's going to use next doesn't make it any less artistic, does it?

 

Improvisation doesn't necessarily mean you turn off your brain and play randomly.

 

(And for Steve in KS, it's "wondering" and "chords". ;) )

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My answer would be, "no". If one is an advanced soloist, then everything you've studied is now second nature, and *beyond conscious thought*. At this point, you're just singing your solos (whether out loud or internally), and your hands are playing back what you're singing in your head. The solos are using all the myriad techniques and rules you've learned and practiced in the past, but not as conscious or purposeful thought.

 

So if you're asking that when I see a D7#9 do I say to myself, "Ooh, good; now I can use the cool Ab pentatonic lick I've been practicing", then the answer is "no". That thought process is only used in "practice mode" or "learning mode".

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Originally posted by delirium:

Just wander, do you guys always know what you're playing during improvisation. I meant do you know what progression, pattern, what you gonna play next after these particular cords etc.

If yes, isn't that a little non artistic/creative approach?

Your joking right? :)

 

The answer is no.

 

They say that a sculpter can look at a block and see what his finish piece will look like before even starts to work.

 

I would say as those before me, that solos are formed as the structure of the song progresses. I rarely play the same solo night after night the same way. I have even listened to my live recordings and thought I should remember what I had done because I liked it. That said I am not good enough that I have enough riffs to never repeat them from one song to the next but by mixing an matching as I go along it adds variety.

 

Think about a solo as taking a trip. If you don't know where you want to go you'll either be lost or go round in circles.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

NEW BAND CHECK THEM OUT

www.steveowensandsummertime.com

www.jimmyweaver.com

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I like what cnegrad said, bacause I started to think that if I don't know what accord I'm playing or why I'm playing it it's wrong. So I'm relieved,

since very often I don't know exactly what I'm playing and I don't care as long as I like it,

and comes fom my head.

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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If you stop me while I'm playing I'll be able to tell you exactly what I'm doing. I might not know what I'm going to play in ten seconds, but I know what I'm playing in the present.

 

If you look at music as a language (and if you speak well), you might not know what the next sentence is, but the construction of the paragraph will be good and make sense.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Looking back, I think that the solos that I'm most proud of are those where I'm honestly able to say, "Wow; what was that I played? I wonder where THAT came from?"

 

And if I really wanted to know, I'd have to transcribe it just like anyone else would.

 

Remember that the goal here is to amass all your "tools", and get them ingrained in your mind to the point where you can just forget about them and close your eyes, open your ears and create.

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I was just afraid that proffesional players have in their mind all that cords structures, progression, turn arounds, scales etc and they build them in their head on the fly.

Looked like very hard work to me, not as music :)

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Originally posted by BluesKeys:

Think about a solo as taking a trip. If you don't know where you want to go you'll either be lost or go round in circles.

YOU SUCK.

 

Hey Jim. you suck.

 

Dude, I've been listening to your tunes from West Street. They're freakin' HOT. you suck.

 

And Bambi on bass is holding down the bottom pretty good, huh? he sucks too.

 

People are coming in my office asking me who that band is. So I've sent them the schedule on the web site.

 

I told them that you suck. This way, they won't be disappointed.

 

Signed,

 

Your friend, Tom

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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It was hard work when I was learning the various techniques, but as I said, it's now second nature and I don't give it a second thought.

 

And remember, when I'm talking about "putting together one's tool belt", I'm *not* talking about building a vocabulary of licks and phrases and learing to string them together seemlessly. I'm talking about learning and comprehending the techniques that make those licks and phrases so interesting, and using those techniques (but not those exact licks and phrases) with my own personal spin to create my solos.

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Originally posted by Is There Gas in the Car?:

Originally posted by BluesKeys:

Think about a solo as taking a trip. If you don't know where you want to go you'll either be lost or go round in circles.

YOU SUCK.

 

Hey Jim. you suck.

 

Dude, I've been listening to your tunes from West Street. They're freakin' HOT. you suck.

 

And Bambi on bass is holding down the bottom pretty good, huh? he sucks too.

 

People are coming in my office asking me who that band is. So I've sent them the schedule on the web site.

 

I told them that you suck. This way, they won't be disappointed.

 

Signed,

 

Your friend, Tom

Tom, THANKS but sheeze I though he put a disclaimer on those cuts. They were from our second practice together with a sharty drummer. I had no idea he had recorded it.

 

The Come Together version is hot and the Sly tune is fun too.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

NEW BAND CHECK THEM OUT

www.steveowensandsummertime.com

www.jimmyweaver.com

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I have less theory training and understanding than many of the posters in this thread, but I do have a bit.

 

When I'm in a "learning mode" I do have all of that stuff in my head while soloing -- it's how I integrate new bits into my bag of tricks. I do this at blues jams a lot. Those solos usually kinda suck. :)

 

But most of the time I just play. Thinking bad, playing good. ;) In fact sometimes I'll find myself in the middle of a solo thinking, "wow, how did I get here?"

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Delirium,

I don't always know exactly what I am going to play. Most of the time I have a few ideas that I will definitely want to incorporate, and I try to bridge them together as smoothly as I can. We have an opening number we always use, SRV's "Come On". I usually play the same solo every time, but I tweak it now and then. It is, however, a well-crafted solo and very effective. For an opening number, I usually don't want to take any risks. On the other hand, we play "Feeling Alright" and I take a synth solo (we do a Dave Mason vamp arrangement). Here I have a few ideas that I've worked out, but they are in no particular order. I am not a stream-of-consciousness player. I have to think about what I'm doing and try not to screw up! Sometimes, I'll take a risk with an idea that I've never played and often be rewarded with a really cool result, other times the risk fails, but that's okay. :)

Regards,

Joe

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First of all... Jim, I forgot to add the smiley face. Here: :D Now please don't spit in my beer again.

 

Second of all... it wasn't too long ago that we had a "nice" discussion about musicians who perform against backing tracks. There were pros and there were cons.

 

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. :rolleyes:

 

MY point is that whenever I improvise it has EVERYTHING to do with my surroundings and my mood and energy level. As Jim said, it's never the same from one night to another.

 

I like to tell a short story when I solo. I have a definite start-middle-ending... or try to. And it varies depending on the audience. It's a synergistic thing. Something you could never have playing to backing tracks. (IMHO).

 

Do I know exactly how it's all going to turn out? Of course not. And neither does the audience. That's what makes it exciting.

 

My goal is to take those few bars and make 'em mine. And because it's live and because I am influenced by everything around me, I never know exactly which notes I'm going to hit or in which direction the groove is going to go. But that's the fun of playing live with a band - you're ideas come from each other. You may be trading eights and the guitarist may lay down a basic groove. Then it comes to your eight bars and you build upon that groove and make it stronger or somehow take it in a different direction. Then the guitarist comes back and builds upon that.

 

This is why live music is better than a DJ folks - because we take what the audience is giving us and work it back into the groove.

 

And this is why we should be charging the BIG BUCKS. But that's another topic for another day. :rolleyes:

 

Oh, and somebody remind me (later) to tell the story about the party I played last Saturday night for the SORORITY girls at UNC - Chapel Hill. :love::thu:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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For an opening number, I usually don't want to take any risks. On the other hand, we play "Feeling Alright" and I take a synth solo (we do a Dave Mason vamp arrangement).

 

Funny thing-I've started a lot of nights lately with "Feeling Alright"

 

Unless it's a song I've played a lot with a group or whatever, I'm usually looking for something new or interesting when I solo.

 

I usually play in the "here and now" which means a phrase or section occurs to me as I play. I still look for something different every time I solo, but I don't plan a lot before starting. i have lots of phrases I can use if true inspiration is lacking (4ths-chromatics ect.), but you know sometimes your just looking for something cool that maybe you haven't done quite that way way before. Kind of a groove or a "zone".

"Music should never be harmless."

 

Robbie Robertson

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For an opening number, I usually don't want to take any risks. On the other hand, we play "Feeling Alright" and I take a synth solo (we do a Dave Mason vamp arrangement).

 

Funny thing-I've started a lot of nights lately with "Feeling Alright"

 

Unless it's a song I've played a lot with a group or whatever, I'm usually looking for something new or interesting when I solo.

 

I usually play in the "here and now" which means a phrase or section occurs to me as I play. I still look for something different every time I solo, but I don't plan a lot before starting. i have lots of phrases I can use if true inspiration is lacking (4ths-chromatics ect.), but you know sometimes your just looking for something cool that maybe you haven't done quite that way way before. Kind of a groove or a "zone".

"Music should never be harmless."

 

Robbie Robertson

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For an opening number, I usually don't want to take any risks. On the other hand, we play "Feeling Alright" and I take a synth solo (we do a Dave Mason vamp arrangement).

 

Funny thing-I've started a lot of nights lately with "Feeling Alright"

 

Unless it's a song I've played a lot with a group or whatever, I'm usually looking for something new or interesting when I solo.

 

I usually play in the "here and now" which means a phrase or section occurs to me as I play. I still look for something different every time I solo, but I don't plan a lot before starting. i have lots of phrases I can use if true inspiration is lacking (4ths-chromatics ect.), but you know sometimes your just looking for something cool that maybe you haven't done quite that way way before. Kind of a groove or a "zone".

"Music should never be harmless."

 

Robbie Robertson

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I improvise best when I don't have to think about theory. But generally I play jazz at home and not on stage anyway! And though I'm still playing at a couple of churches on occasion, I'm looking for a gig where I can stretch out more, jazz or otherwise.

 

I have a good grasp of basic theory and know my chords and scales at different spots on the guitar. But lately I've been putting on Jamie Aebersold tapes and improvising on flute (which I have very limited technique on) and deliberately switch off the analytical circuits. Playing only a few notes and really listening. I think it's helpful to do that sometimes!

 

Do you guys do similar things on occasion?

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Do I always know what I'm playing? No! Of course not.

 

It's been since my days as a beginning student of music that I had to think about why I was playing something improvisational. Like Dave Horne said, I could probably analyze it for you after the fact, but why would I want to ruin the experience of playing by constantly asking myself why I was playing something a certain way?

 

BTW: doing so would only be detrimental to my performance. In the words of a great man, free your mind, and your ass will follow.

 

- Jeff

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As a follow up question: do you know all possible "sounds" that can you get out of your instrument or sometimes some combination you tried surprise you?

Meaning that sometimes intrument itself can inspire some ideas, not only that you have in your head.

(I'm talking about piano, not synth...)

 

BTW, thanks for your thoughts you posted already,

I'm not pro, and trying to figure out how far I am from :)

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Originally posted by cnegrad:

Looking back, I think that the solos that I'm most proud of are those where I'm honestly able to say, "Wow; what was that I played? I wonder where THAT came from?"

 

And if I really wanted to know, I'd have to transcribe it just like anyone else would.

 

Remember that the goal here is to amass all your "tools", and get them ingrained in your mind to the point where you can just forget about them and close your eyes, open your ears and create.

Right on Mark! My best solos is also like this! I have to sit down and figure out what I played!

 

In my experience, if you plan a solo in advance, it never sound good. Although if I was to play a solo of 8 bars on a tune in a studio, I might sit down and try to work something out, but when it comes to "blowing", I just "sing"

Yamaha S90ES, Nord Electro 2 61, Roland SH 09 and a Macbook Pro running Logic Studio with various softsynths and my precious; Scarbee EP´s
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Originally posted by Jeff Klopmeyer:

BTW: In the words of a great man, free your mind, and your ass will follow.

- Jeff

That one I really liked! :D

But when playing I usually squeezing my ass to the chair making hard for her to follow :D

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When I was much younger I had housemates who were very good musicians, and was surprised that they worked out solos when learning new songs. At first I thought that was odd, but then realized that they didn't play what they worked out note for note, but rather used it as a plan from which they felt free to extrapolate, and as time went on the solos took on even more structure while also having more freedom. This sounds like a contradiction but it's not.

 

Another thing. We've all heard the quote from Jimmy Vaughan that "Stevie never played anything the same way ONCE" (let alone repeat himself). But anyone who's listened to various versions of several of his songs (e.g., album vs. Austin City Limits videorecordings) will quite plainly see that there's a LOT of structure in his solos that he tends to follow quite closely, but without being trapped by it.

 

On the other end of the extremes, I have songs I play with "solos" that I play the same way every time (except for mistakes, of course). Well, it's still creative, but it was more creative once rather than every time. I admit that to a large extent, when I do this, it's due to limitations (but also because I LIKE the solos I worked out ... but yes, if I was stronger I would vary them more.)

 

Moreover, would you say that someone who plays classical music isn't creative? I say they are, though creative in a different way than an author or a typical jazz solo.

 

Finally, there are people who solo with little idea what they're going to do and yet I would call it not very creative because all they're doing is noodling, shuffling around a set of licks. (Gee, I feel that way myself all too often!)

 

Bottom line: it's not cheating. It can be used as a springboard for greater understanding and creativity, or a straight-jacket. The choice is yours!

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Originally posted by delirium:

I was just afraid that proffesional players have in their mind all that cords structures, progression, turn arounds, scales etc and they build them in their head on the fly.

Looked like very hard work to me, not as music :)

I would say that the chord progressions are on our minds, it's the melodic stuff that comes out more spontaniously.
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Originally posted by InfoSal:

Originally posted by delirium:

I was just afraid that proffesional players have in their mind all that cords structures, progression, turn arounds, scales etc and they build them in their head on the fly.

Looked like very hard work to me, not as music :)

I would say that the chord structures and progressions are on our minds, it's the melodic stuff that comes out more spontaniously.
I agree, but it's more about "hearing the progression in your head" than thinking about the actual chords themselves.
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Personally, I would much rather be in the moment and play something ok than play a prepared solo that sounds brilliant. I work with a few guys who play the same solo every time or use a pretty strict roadmap with the same licks that they 'know' and frankly it bores me to tears. No one is endlessly creative, but I would just love to hear these guys reach for something they've never played before just once. I want my intuition to be as powerful a force in my improvisation as my knowledge and ability. I want to live in the moment through each gig, no matter what the style of music - a constant musical conversation.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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