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How's this approach to improvisation...

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by Lichtaffen, Aug 7, 2012.


  1. Lichtaffen

    Lichtaffen

    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    The other night my girlfriend and I were listening to a jazz tune we wanted to learn. She's a pianist and we are both trying to learn improvisation. While we were listening to the tune and the solo section came up, I started just unconsciously humming an improvised melody. I was struck by how good it sounded and felt as I hummed it. I personally can't solo that well on the bass (yet).

    I know we all talk about developing a voice and compare improvising to talking, etc. Why not sing an improvised line, record yourself and then transcribe it to figure out what you are subconsciously doing? When I sing something like that (I'm definitely not a singer, mind you), I'm not thinking about patterns, shapes, specific notes, etc. It's like every single song I've listened to in my life thus far influences what I am singing. For some reason, it feels more honest to me than playing bass which I often feel is more contrived (for me personally).

    Have you ever explored this type of thing, Anthony?
     
  2. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    Maryland
    The record Victor is recording now has mostly sung solos that have been learned on the instrument.

    That's how most of my solos are done anyway. But I can sing a line and most of the time play it back right away. I rarely have to learn it. My theory knowledge, dexterity and interval recognition is good enough that I can do it in real time. And most of the stuff I hear in my head isn't complex. I rarely hear abstract, pattern based lines without melodic content like a lot of Jazz guys do. I usually hear melodies that I'll play low in the bass register or up high.

    I think that a lot of good improvisers are trying to play what they are singing in their head. But I'm sure that lot of musicians are just playing a bunch of cools patterns that they've learned and offering that up as music.

    It's all valid!

    peace,
    anthony
     
  3. @war

    @war

    Feb 29, 2008
    Port Elizabeth, South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Cort basses and Hartke Amps
    Anthony, do you really feel that playing patterns you have learned is honest improvisation? I hear so many guys playing 'licks' and although they sound cool because their 'solo' comes off really well, I can't help but feel that that approach sort of misses the point of what IMPROVISATION is all about...
     
  4. Lichtaffen

    Lichtaffen

    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Thanks, Ant. It's good to know that I'm on the right track.

    Now back to the woodshed.
     
  5. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    Maryland
    No,...I don't feel that playing memorized patterns is true improvisation. That's not my approach.

    I feel that you learn patterns and other people's solos to get a sense of how experienced people put ideas together. The same way that transcribing a Martin Luther King, Jr speech can give me insight on public speaking. But I'm not memorizing his speech to offer it up as my own creativity.

    Personally, I think improvisation is expressing what you feel at the moment.

    When I'm introduced for a solo I think of it no differently than someone saying,..."Anthony, stand up and tell us how you feel right now."

    There's no wrong way to do that. And there can be a different response to the same question every night.

    But whatever anyone wants to play or say is as valid as what anyone else has to play or say.

    peace,
    anthony
     
  6. @war

    @war

    Feb 29, 2008
    Port Elizabeth, South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Cort basses and Hartke Amps
    Thanks for the response man. That is how I have always felt about it. It's frustrating at times since the guys who are regurgitating other peoples solos sometimes give the impression that they really have it together, but I KNOW that it's not how I wanna play music. To me, my solo (or anything 'improvised') should be directed by the moment, not by the three coolest licks I learned this week. That's also what I want to hear when I listen to the music other people are playing. I want to hear your story, not your chops. Unfortunately too many educators are teaching a 'paint by numbers' approach and students love it because it allows them to stay within their comfort zones and not delve into their own emotions and take real risks in the music by expressing themselves.
    What is ironic to me is that the players we have been listening to for decades are usually not the chops monsters, but the ones who make us FEEL their music. Surely that should be a clue to anyone who wants to play and have people be drawn to the music...
     
  7. sayman

    sayman

    Dec 14, 2009
    Like.
     

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