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GreyPoupon
09-01-2009, 04:20 AM
I have been playing uke for about 6 months now. And I am happy to report that I can play a fair number of finger style songs with various degress of competence. The easier ones I can play well... and some of the harder ones are still pretty sketchy, but considering how long I've been playing I am pretty happy with the resutlts. One day at a time, livin' in the moment, it's not a competition, and so on...

Here's my question: Basically learning a finger style song is about playing the peice a million times over - focusing on the hard parts and playing those 2 million times really really slow.. and with enough time and patience you can even nail a really hard song. And I do it. But I am a bit like a monkey right now. I memorize a peice to death, and play it.

How do I go about learning how to improvise? How can I just pick up the uke without a peice of music I have memorized and make it sound good? How do I take the skills I have learned and actually make something creative and original come out of the uke as opposed to simply spitting out someone else's TABS?

???

Brad Bordessa
09-01-2009, 04:56 AM
Do you know your scales? That's probably the best place to start learning, just noodle around a scale.

The idea with soloing/improv is to create a melody on the spot. Try starting and stopping your phrases (melody lines) with one of the chord notes. If you are playing over C (use the C scale), you would emphasize C E G. When you change to G7 (still using the C scale because all of G7's notes are part of the C scale), you would emphasize G D F B.

Things I would advise you not to do:

Think that playing parts or all of the scale makes a solo.
Playing even eighths without stopping for a little breathing room. Space is a must - think where a singer would have to take a breath - that's where you want to stop for a bit.
Think that on your first try you are going to sound like Clapton. You'll just get depressed.

Listen to all the music you can. I might even lean towards recommending guitar music because there are usually more great solos in guitar songs. Eric Johnson is my favorite, followed by Santana.

Noodle, noodle, noodle - but make it a melody.

RonS
09-01-2009, 05:21 AM
How do I go about learning how to improvise?



Practice, Practice, Practice.

Hippie guy gave you some great advice.

Learn to read music. (forget about tabs)
Learn your scales.
Learn what how chords are made. (Learn the notes in your chords)
Learn the circle of fifths.

And then when your are done with that

Practice noodling around.

Old Bird
09-01-2009, 05:24 AM
Music is what happens when you're not paying attention! ;)

x2 on the scales - music theory is what you really need to know in order to improvise. Practice the scales quite a bit, and your fingers will learn where the notes are, then just start hitting those notes wherever they feel right.

I say with with a grain of salt though, because the more guitar theory I learned, the less creative I became. You need to know enough to know what notes fit with what scale, but not so much that you need to "follow the rules."

buddhuu
09-01-2009, 05:35 AM
A few suggestions...


Start out with a familiar framework - 12 bar blues is great for it.
Learn your major and minor pentatonic scales in the keys you improvise in most.
Learn the chord arpeggios for the chords in the piece you want to improvise over. Homing in on chord tones can make your solos seem as if they are going somewhere specific, rather than wandering around looking for an 'out'. Starting and ending on chord tones is one way of making your improvs seem to fit in.
Get into the habit of singing along with the lines you try to play. It totally builds your instinct for how any given note is going to sound.
It's always good to use the plain melody as a starting point for improvs when you're starting out. Play the melody through straight a few times then start to stray using your scales and arpeggios, and your instinct. If you get lost, then return to the melody and reorient yourself.
Practice, practice, practice, etc etc etc etc...
Don't worry about mistakes. Improvisation is an experiment. Take chances, and learn from mess-ups. Some of them will sound good!
If you end up playing something really weird, just claim it's jazz... :D

Ukulele JJ
09-01-2009, 10:04 AM
If you end up playing something really weird, just claim it's jazz... :D

...and then play it again, to prove to everyone that you meant to do it the first time. :p

JJ

Citrus
09-01-2009, 01:05 PM
scales are good for add single note melodies, understanding the chord progression and what fits into those chords is good for more complex bits.

buddhuu
09-01-2009, 02:04 PM
...and then play it again, to prove to everyone that you meant to do it the first time. :p[...]

That bit's supposed to be a secret! We're not supposed to tell them about that until they can do the special jazz handshake... :D

idDobie
09-04-2009, 04:44 AM
If you end up playing something really weird, just claim it's jazz... :D
[/LIST]

Best thing ever. I've played saxophone since I was a little kid, and this has been the excuse for half the crap I've played.

It's not wrong guys, it's innovative!

hoosierhiver
09-04-2009, 05:35 AM
Best thing ever. I've played saxophone since I was a little kid, and this has been the excuse for half the crap I've played.

It's not wrong guys, it's innovative!

The secret on "jazz" is out! I knew it!

Captain_Lovehandles
09-04-2009, 05:57 AM
But if I understand your question, you don't really care so much about soloing as about stringing together a cool progression on your own, right?

THIS PAGE (http://www.ukuke.co.uk/downloadables.htm#MOVEABLE%20CHORD%20FORMS%20AND%2 0FRETBOARD) has a PDF of "common chords by keys" that shows what chords are likely to be used together in a given key. You could start playing around with that and find some groovy new song pieces all your own.

Sonseeker30
09-04-2009, 08:56 AM
Wow! All great advice here from knowing your scales, arpeggios to chord progressions...main key "PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!"

Thanks all!