How to improvise in music ? (1/2)

Guitar solo

Several tips to achieve great solos!

How to improvise in music ? (1/2)

There are a thousand ways to approach music. Some musicians perfect their reading of complex scores, while others rely on their instinct. In many styles, especially jazz, melodies are improvised in real time, nothing is prepared in advance. This is called improvisation! This approach pushes musicians to listen to each other more, to create real connections. We inevitably think of outstanding improvisers like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane in jazz and later, of the guitar heroes of the rock'n'roll years like Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai and so many others... Beware, improvisation is not reserved only for great musicians. I'll give you some tips on how to do it! 

the basics of improvisation

There are some necessary steps to learn how to improvise. In order for the notes to sound "right" with the chord grid you are playing on, you must identify the key of the song (C, D, E, F...), as well as its color (minor or major). It is quite allowed to ask the question to the other musicians you are playing with. To do this, you need to learn some scale patterns on your instrument. Like learning a language, you need to learn some vocabulary before you start making sentences, and then engage in an "improvised" discussion with your interlocutor. Another key point is listening to the structure. Many young improvisers close themselves off by focusing too much on the notes they play, despite the musicality and sharing. A solo with impact is a perfect dialogue between the improvised melody and the piece in the background. The two parts complement each other, answer each other. 

play with restrictions

Improvising can be intimidating, as the possibilities of notes and rhythms are endless. That's why it's important to set limits, because restrictions often stimulate creativity. Here is a practical exercise you can do with your instrument. First, identify the scale you will be using to improvise, then choose only 4 notes within it. Start by doing several combinations of notes with the same rhythm, repeating the same note can be very interesting too! Once you are comfortable with these 4 notes, try varying your rhythm. You will realize that the possibilities are already endless!


Apolline offers singing lessons in Lausanne as well as guitar lessons, drum lessons and piano lessons to help you perfect your musical skills. 

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