Learn to improvise. 2003-2004. Lesson 14: simplify.
There is a difference between a musician and a music lover. The
first one accepts the imperfection of his music, the second one has more
self-criticism than skill. To improvise one has to simplify ones music to a
playable level. If we really want to use all the chords, voicing,
initial keys, temporary keys, scales, chord schemes, modulations, melodies
and rhythms of which we understand the existence, in our playing, we
will keep on exercising and will never really play. So, we will have to
Chords: we can limit ourselves to the primary chords
seventh, diminished, augmented).
Voicing: we can restrict every chord we use to 1 or 2
grasps, of which
we have figured out once, that they are easy to play, also when
from one chord to another.
Initial keys: we can specialize in 1 or 2 initial keys
(B-flat or E-flat if
we often play with wind instrumentalists; E or A are common for guitar,
C, F and G for harmonica; C is best for understanding the structure of
music and F is a compromise, acceptable for most instruments)
Temporary keys: when we choose a song for improvisation
we can see
to it, that it doesn't contain temporary keys we are not familiar with.
Scales: the common major and harmonic minor scales are sufficient.
Later on one can add other scales (like church modes, gipsy scales,
Chord schemes: for improvisation the schemes may be
simpler than the
examples in the previous lessons. Those were meant to illustrate the
eloquence of a mere scheme. In reality much can be left to the melody.
Modulations: it is not necessary to have lots of them.
The effect of a
modulation depends greatly on the introduction it gets by the melody.
Introduction of modulation.
Melodies: repetitions are easy to do and agreeable to
hear. That holds
for any length: a measure, a sentence or a chorus. They may be
distorted: backwards, in another scale, etc, as long as there is
that reminds one of the original phrase.
Rhythms: restrict yourself to the complexity you can
Improvising a rhythm is easier than playing it from notes, particularly
when it comes to extreme short fragments (of milliseconds). The
improviser with feeling for rhythm can mask much simplicity of other
Sheet music: if you take ideas from sheet music it is
useful to pay
attention to what you can simplify in it, in order to be able to
better with it.
The advantage of the
simplification of the several musical aspects
during the preparation is a better combination of these aspects
'Shine', having a simple design, making it
suitably for improvisation.
Also one can change his attention for a certain aspect during
playing. By simplifying the accompaniment, the melody gets more
attention. This can be both easy to play and musically to hear.
HOMEWORK: Spend an hour on determining what will be your
favorite musical aspects (initial key, chords, voicing, etc) to
restrict your attention to in the next months.
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