Learn to improvise. 2003-2004. Lesson 21: improvising on a given song.
For improvising usually one takes a known song to start with. The first
thing you do is to take everything out, like a room you're going to fit up.
Do as follows:
- Choose a suitable song. Nose about in songbooks for a song you
have heard before and know a little. Make sure it has not only the
melody, but also the chords and text. You must have feeling for the
song in order to be able to make practical simplifications. Text
comes in handy to indicate where the chords change.
- Use only the chorus, as you intend to improvise every repetition
- Remove the chords which are too much for improvisation. You must
be able to feel the sub stream which determines the broad outline of
the harmony. It is convenient to have no chord changes halfway
down a measure.
- Replace complex chords by primary ones.
- Transpose the chords to your best initial key (to sing or play). We
choose C for didactical reasons.
- Write the result down clear and big. This way all your attention can
be given to your personal musical contribution.
- Learn these chords by heart, in the beginning the sheet you have
made, but you will only be able to improvise completely freely if the
flow of the harmony is burned into your musical mind as an
Simplification 1 (no notes): [Eb] Shine [Ebm] a[Ebdim]way [Fm7] your
Simplification 2 (remove some chords): [Eb] Shine a[Ebdim]way your
Simplification 3 (no chord halfway a measure): [Eb] Shine away your
Simplification 4 (to an easy initial key): [C] Shine away your [G7]
To improvise we will use the chords of simplification 4, of course.
It is decent to start an improvisation with the original melody,
Click to hear the melody of Shine (in Eb)
and to deviate from it only in the following turns.
Click to hear improvisation on Shine (in C)
When the original melody is sung along with the improvisation the
harmony must be correct.
To prevent to leave the tracks it is advisable
to play a recognizable peace (e.g. measure) of the original melody from
time to time. The beginnings of a sentence are often suitable for that.
Shine, suitable to write down clear and big for improvisation:
[C] Shine away your [G7] bluesies.
[C] Shine start with your [G7] shoesies.
[E7] Shine each place up [Am] make it look like new
[D7] Shine your face up [G7] wear a smile or two.
[C] Shine your these and [G7] thosies.
You'll [E7] find that everything will [Am] turn out fine.
[F] Folks will shine up to ya
[C] Everyone will [A7] how-dy-do ya.
You'll [D7] make the [G7] whole world [C] shine!
Choose a song and prepare it to improvise on it the next weeks.
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