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Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 06:22 AM
Some time ago I bought a book called "A Guide to Non-Jazz Improvization" (for flute), and began doin' the exercises and scales and tunes. I also had some other improvisational stuff which I added to the book in a loose leaf binder. Anyway, the lessons and tunes were interesting and fun to play (and sing) so I enjoyed doin' them.

Well, here I should say that I whistle a lot (all the darned time, others say), and suddenly I noticed that I was improvising my whistle music a lot. I also noticed it on my flutes too, and playing them by ear also improved and became easier to "just do!"

Improvisation is big on banjo music too, so I'm also working on it with them.

And what has all this to do with ukuleles? I'm just wondering if any of you finger pickers (especially Jazz players, I guess) or even singers are working on it too. Do you add stuff to tunes that you play or sing? Do you make a tune "yours"? I find all this stuff very interesting

I've been lookin' at "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" (the Dixie funeral march), and I love to whistle it. I usta try to play it on my cornet. It's the one that's very serious and sad on the way to the graveyard and joyous and exultant (with lots of great Improvization) on the way back.

I just wondered if anyone else was interested or working on it and would enjoy a thread about it. :old:

Rllink
08-15-2016, 07:16 AM
I have been working on improvisation a bit, but for me it has just been a lot of experimentation. I've learned a lot of arpeggios and blues scales, pentatonic scales, I've read a lot, but I have a hard time putting the knowledge together and make it actually work. I would like to figure it out though.

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 08:01 AM
I have been working on improvisation a bit, but for me it has just been a lot of experimentation. I've learned a lot of arpeggios and blues scales, pentatonic scales, I've read a lot, but I have a hard time putting the knowledge together and make it actually work. I would like to figure it out though.

If you know the arpeggios and scales well, then, I think you need to "feel" where the improvised notes go. You do that by seeing that you have a G and then a D, and you know that A and B and C fit between them. So you could just add one or two of 'em and see how it sounds. Of course, you have to watch the timing too. When you're just sitting around noodling, just try adding a "blue note" or a little run. If nobody can hear you, then you didn't make a mistake!

All this is where the mouth harp or whistling comes in handy too. I'll bet you'll surprise yourself like I did. :old:

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 08:25 AM
A while back, I usta play everything with music, and I seldom strayed from it. I still play most of my brass music that way, but for some reason, maybe it's the number of keys on flutes vs only three valves or a slide, I enjoy playing my flutes and mouth harps by ear/memory.

I think it was Miles Davis who said that one should learn the scales, exercises, etc. and then just play. I like that idea. :old:

Rllink
08-15-2016, 08:33 AM
If you know the arpeggios and scales well, then, I think you need to "feel" where the improvised notes go. You do that by seeing that you have a G and then a D, and you know that A and B and C fit between them. So you could just add one or two of 'em and see how it sounds. Of course, you have to watch the timing too. When you're just sitting around noodling, just try adding a "blue note" or a little run. If nobody can hear you, then you didn't make a mistake!

All this is where the mouth harp or whistling comes in handy too. I'll bet you'll surprise yourself like I did. :old:I'll keep working on it. I'm sure it will come eventually. You know that I'm not afraid of making mistakes, even if there are people around to hear them.:)

stevejfc
08-15-2016, 08:38 AM
Randy Travis has the all-time best version of "Just a closer walk with thee". IMHO

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 08:41 AM
I'll keep working on it. I'm sure it will come eventually. You know that I'm not afraid of making mistakes, even if there are people around to hear them.:)

Then . . . "Just Do It!" (with apologies to Nike). That's one of my favorite sayings, but it can get one in a lot of trouble. :old:

JackLuis
08-15-2016, 11:10 AM
I have been playing Keys for a while now. Weeks at least, and improvising on the I, IV, V, Vi Vii and maybe a few loosely related chords. I pick up different rhythms and patterns to my strumming and call them Songs. I started this to practice chord changes in a Key to get used to the changes and pick up speed. One off shoot of this is that I have developed a lot more dexterity in my strumming hand. Now I can vary the kind of sound I need by up or down or partially strumming just two or three strings.

It really is a fun way to practice. I am beginning to internalize the sound to the chord form and can now play without looking at my left hand I just think about the next sound I want to play, not the name of the chord. I guess that is playing by ear?

Joyful Uke
08-15-2016, 11:27 AM
Do you add stuff to tunes that you play or sing? Do you make a tune "yours"?

I'll be reading this thread with interest.
I can't say that I improvise, but would like to.

I do add stuff to, take stuff out, or otherwise alter songs, but that's mostly to accomodate fingers that have been smashed over the years, have self-diagnosed arthritis, and so on. I sometimes have to change up a piece in order to play it, (I fingerpick.) I also change up songs so that I can play it on either high g or low g.

But, that's different than improvising, which is something I'd love to be able to do some day.

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 02:36 PM
Joyful Uke (I like your UU name) if you can play a tune or sing it and add a few notes that fit pretty good, you're improvising. Maybe on a basic level, but, if you continue working on "feeling" your music, perhaps it'll turn into something that you wanna play.

That's mostly what I'm doin'. :old:

mountain goat
08-15-2016, 03:00 PM
Hey Dick,
my partner and I like to play improvised original pieces.
neither of us are trained musicians,
we just turn the camera on and see what happens.
it's a liberating and free way to play sometimes and always surprising.
the best thing about "mistakes" is incorporating them into the song!
i think the key is to not overthink anything, let your ears and your heart, your instinct, take the lead
and just let go of control, the conventional definitions of right and wrong.
if it sounds good it is good!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwSBAImDtlKpGjlYvD5hMYkYESwooq1C_

CeeJay
08-15-2016, 03:21 PM
Hey Dick,
my partner and I like to play improvised original pieces.
neither of us are trained musicians,
we just turn the camera on and see what happens.
it's a liberating and free way to play sometimes and always surprising.
the best thing about "mistakes" is incorporating them into the song!
i think the key is to not overthink anything, let your ears and your heart, your instinct, take the lead
and just let go of control, the conventional definitions of right and wrong.
if it sounds good it is good!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwSBAImDtlKpGjlYvD5hMYkYESwooq1C_
What he said . Just noodle in the same scale..or a pentatonic version of that scale and remember, the best blues improvs use 4 or fewer notes and the secret is repetition between notes ....this can be applied to most music ...except Stockhausen ... I think I stepped in some of that this morning !!

2xbass
08-15-2016, 03:53 PM
I'm a jazz bassist new to the uke. Generally people improvise by ear or by theory or, more usually, through some combination of both. You need to listen to a LOT of the music and other improvisers that inspire you. This is a lifelong learning task. You also need to have a healthy dose of theory that you can draw on in an instant. Keys, chords, harmony, scales, modes, etc. You also need a lot of stuff under your fingertips including those chords and scales but also riffs and other patterns. For some styles all of this is more straightforward while for others it can be more complex.

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 04:11 PM
I'm a jazz bassist new to the uke. Generally people improvise by ear or by theory or, more usually, through some combination of both. You need to listen to a LOT of the music and other improvisers that inspire you. This is a lifelong learning task. You also need to have a healthy dose of theory that you can draw on in an instant. Keys, chords, harmony, scales, modes, etc. You also need a lot of stuff under your fingertips including those chords and scales but also riffs and other patterns. For some styles all of this is more straightforward while for others it can be more complex.

Well, all of the above sounds correct and useful, but I just wanna have a good time making my music mine. Mostly I play all kinds of folk music. Some who read your post will probably be inspired to delve deeper into jazz improvisation with all those mind blowing chords.

Thanks for your input, maybe it will inspire someone to begin a study of jazz. :old:

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 04:53 PM
What he said . Just noodle in the same scale..or a pentatonic version of that scale and remember, the best blues improvs use 4 or fewer notes and the secret is repetition between notes ....this can be applied to most music ...except Stockhausen ... I think I stepped in some of that this morning !!

Hey, CeeJay, how's it goin'? Long time no hear-from ya. I'm glad you're back. :old:

Strumdaddy
08-15-2016, 05:11 PM
[QUOTE=Down Up Dick;1880018]

Do you add stuff to tunes that you play or sing? Do you make a tune "yours"? I find all this stuff very interesting

Interesting topic Mr D.
I can not bring myself to doing a song exactly as the original artist did it. A different more "ukey" feel, or a riff that comes out of the melody, or something - anything that makes it your version. And when I hear a technically brilliant but slavish cover I just turn off - I'd rather hear the original.
Ray Charles was a master of the art of interpretation.

Down Up Dick
08-15-2016, 05:36 PM
Yeah, Strumdaddy, Ray Charles was a master indeed. I have 3 or 4 of his CDs, and I never tire of hearing them. :old:

Strumdaddy
08-15-2016, 09:40 PM
Yes!! Listen to what he did with "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" - a lovely, but somewhat square song from Oklahoma (sung by Gordon MacRae in the movie -the cleanest cowboy I've ever seen) Talk about a soul transplant!!

AndieZ
08-15-2016, 09:59 PM
I improvised a song not long ago. The first time I've ever done it and on listening more to the original since, i'm inclined to think that Billie Holiday did it too and its probably why i ended up doing it.

Here's her version of Strange Fruit and then my version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs

http://www.singsnap.com/karaoke/r/b76c80b77

I have to do quite a bit of work with my song learning before I get to the point of worrying about making them my own, that is the ones I will be taking busking with me. Its all a bit new to me. But with this one, there wasn't really a strong melody so I felt i could just make it up. The power of this song is definitely in the words.

JCar
08-15-2016, 10:38 PM
Some food for thought: "There are no wrong notes; some are just more right than others.”
—Thelonius Monk
“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”
—Miles Davis

CeeJay
08-16-2016, 01:51 AM
Well, all of the above sounds correct and useful, but I just wanna have a good time making my music mine. Mostly I play all kinds of folk music. Some who read your post will probably be inspired to delve deeper into jazz improvisation with all those mind blowing chords.

Thanks for your input, maybe it will inspire someone to begin a study of jazz. :old:

Before we go too much further on this may I just get your definition of "Folk " music. Here in the UK it is Traditional ,Old Worlde and often involves a maiden rising up in the morning , meeting a ne'er do good lusty lad and possibly not still being a maiden at the setting of the sun !! Or certainly before the song ends lol.

The afficianados of this genre ,with some possible notable exceptions such as Steeleye Span (my personal folk rock favourites) especially the Traditional Irish Music Mob, seem to disapprove of any sort of improvisation ....despite the fact that the music is screaming out for it and it gets it from me....What is your definition of folk music? I've shown you mine now you show me yours :D

CeeJay
08-16-2016, 01:51 AM
Hey, CeeJay, how's it goin'? Long time no hear-from ya. I'm glad you're back. :old:

Thanks very much.

Down Up Dick
08-16-2016, 03:18 AM
Before we go too much further on this may I just get your definition of "Folk " music. Here in the UK it is Traditional ,Old Worlde and often involves a maiden rising up in the morning , meeting a ne'er do good lusty lad and possibly not still being a maiden at the setting of the sun !! Or certainly before the song ends lol.

The afficianados of this genre ,with some possible notable exceptions such as Steeleye Span (my personal folk rock favourites) especially the Traditional Irish Music Mob, seem to disapprove of any sort of improvisation ....despite the fact that the music is screaming out for it and it gets it from me....What is your definition of folk music? I've shown you mine now you show me yours :D

Wow, I don't know that I've thought about a folk music definition all that much. Off hand I'd say it's just tunes that folks made up and played for/with their fellow tipplers in a pub, and their names have faded into the mist of history. But some of my Celtic music books teach "adornments" such as triplets or rolls, etc. German music has those wonderful trills and little runs. I especially love the Oom-pah-pahs (I play tuba too) and the dancing. Our old folk music seems to me to be mostly imported from Britain. I usta like to play the old fife tunes on my fifes, but my embouchure ain't what it usta be (nothin' is) anymore. Klezmer (?) music is fun and heartbreaking. I love it, and it is certainly improvised. Eastern European folk music is also much like that. About the only folky music I don't care for is Spanish; the music's all right, but I don't care for the dancing and yelling. Anyway, I'm not sure I have a definition. It's just (mostly) old tunes from other societies that people play and sing and use to kick up their heels.

I'd say the above was a pretty good definition of the folk music that I like, for one written at 0530! And my first coffee got cold!

And, my definition of improvisation is just play it the way you wanna hear it! :old:

Joyful Uke
08-16-2016, 05:08 AM
Joyful Uke (I like your UU name) if you can play a tune or sing it and add a few notes that fit pretty good, you're improvising. Maybe on a basic level, but, if you continue working on "feeling" your music, perhaps it'll turn into something that you wanna play.

That's mostly what I'm doin'. :old:

I guess I consider what I'm doing arranging (at a very simple level) vs. improvising. But, I'm sure there is overlap between the 2.

I'm not sure where the lines are drawn between arranging, improvising, and composing. I think of improvising as on-the-fly and not pre-planned, and probably never replicated by the performer again, because next time, it will be improvised differently. But, that's just the random definition that popped into my head, and I'm not sure that's correct.

Down Up Dick
08-16-2016, 06:23 AM
I guess I consider what I'm doing arranging (at a very simple level) vs. improvising. But, I'm sure there is overlap between the 2.

I'm not sure where the lines are drawn between arranging, improvising, and composing. I think of improvising as on-the-fly and not pre-planned, and probably never replicated by the performer again, because next time, it will be improvised differently. But, that's just the random definition that popped into my head, and I'm not sure that's correct.

Yeah, I pretty much agree with your definitions. I don't care anything about composing though, it just doesn't interest me. I like to arrange (rearrange?) though. What I'm really interested in though is playing by ear. I guess that's where my interest in improvising started.

I wish I could play as well as I whistle, but I seem to have bad hand-eye (mind?) coordination--ahh, well. :old:

LimousinLil
08-16-2016, 07:36 AM
Hey Dick,
my partner and I like to play improvised original pieces.
neither of us are trained musicians,
we just turn the camera on and see what happens.
it's a liberating and free way to play sometimes and always surprising.
the best thing about "mistakes" is incorporating them into the song!
i think the key is to not overthink anything, let your ears and your heart, your instinct, take the lead
and just let go of control, the conventional definitions of right and wrong.
if it sounds good it is good!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwSBAImDtlKpGjlYvD5hMYkYESwooq1C_

Which "key" are you talking about ... I would go for something simple like 'C' myself and I wouldn't dream of overthinking it! Mmm ... probably easier to improvise with someone else when you're going in that direction - me, I have enough trouble just playing the stuff that's already been written down! (And, actually, now I think about it, I would find the whole thing positively scary ... not even remotely "liberating". Yes ... obviously far too "uptight"! But choosing the titles could be fun - in fact, that could be the best bit .... I could think of the most WONDERFUL and totally irrelevant titles!)

Joyful Uke
08-17-2016, 09:46 AM
Yeah, I pretty much agree with your definitions. I don't care anything about composing though, it just doesn't interest me. I like to arrange (rearrange?) though. What I'm really interested in though is playing by ear. I guess that's where my interest in improvising started.

I wish I could play as well as I whistle, but I seem to have bad hand-eye (mind?) coordination--ahh, well. :old:

Are you doing any specific ear training studies? I was trying to work on that for a bit, but more important things (family and work) needed that time instead. I might be able to sneak back to it soon, though.

I was using http://www.musictheory.net/ to help, as well as an app, (I think it's called Trainer, and you have the option of buying the ukulele version.) Some vacation time from one job is coming up, so maybe I'll get back to it then.

Down Up Dick
08-17-2016, 10:22 AM
Are you doing any specific ear training studies? I was trying to work on that for a bit, but more important things (family and work) needed that time instead. I might be able to sneak back to it soon, though.

I was using http://www.musictheory.net/ to help, as well as an app, (I think it's called Trainer, and you have the option of buying the ukulele version.) Some vacation time from one job is coming up, so maybe I'll get back to it then.

I just fingerpicked lots of scales and arpeggios to learn where the notes are. Then I pick a simple, familiar tune/song, and, when I can play it pretty good, I can add grace notes and/or little runs that sound good to me. Then one can just build from there. I do that with my flutes too. I have two or three banjo books that say that one should use tabs or music to learn tunes and then stop and play by ear.

It's very nice to just sit, maybe outside (I usta play my fifes and tinwhistles in the park) and noodle away. :old:

Ukejenny
08-18-2016, 11:42 AM
Some time ago I bought a book called "A Guide to Non-Jazz Improvization" (for flute), and began doin' the exercises and scales and tunes. I also had some other improvisational stuff which I added to the book in a loose leaf binder. Anyway, the lessons and tunes were interesting and fun to play (and sing) so I enjoyed doin' them.

Well, here I should say that I whistle a lot (all the darned time, others say), and suddenly I noticed that I was improvising my whistle music a lot. I also noticed it on my flutes too, and playing them by ear also improved and became easier to "just do!"

Improvisation is big on banjo music too, so I'm also working on it with them.

And what has all this to do with ukuleles? I'm just wondering if any of you finger pickers (especially Jazz players, I guess) or even singers are working on it too. Do you add stuff to tunes that you play or sing? Do you make a tune "yours"? I find all this stuff very interesting

I've been lookin' at "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" (the Dixie funeral march), and I love to whistle it. I usta try to play it on my cornet. It's the one that's very serious and sad on the way to the graveyard and joyous and exultant (with lots of great Improvization) on the way back.

I just wondered if anyone else was interested or working on it and would enjoy a thread about it. :old:

Pete Fountain was laid to rest this week, and this reminds me of watching some videos of his Second Line. I've always wanted to improv. with my clarinet, and have a few jazz books. Never have given it the serious time and study it deserves. This is a great idea for a thread!

Down Up Dick
08-18-2016, 12:35 PM
Ohhh, I'm sorry to hear that, Ukejenny. I liked Pete Fountain a lot. I really like Dixieland. I always had dreams of playing tuba with a band. I played a little in high school, but just a little.

One thing about being old is that all your heroes pass on. A lot of mine have . . . :old:

BearMakingNoises
08-19-2016, 04:32 AM
I have been recording an album of improvised tunes for a while. It is a nice break from composition for me and it is an excellent way to keep sharp and become more fluent on any instrument. I'll be releasing it for free when I decide which tracks make the cut and which are getting tossed.