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UkuleleApe
05-15-2008, 02:43 AM
Hey,
can anyone help me concerning improvising or accompaning somebody with the uke?
My problem is, that i just do not know which notes and in which order to play if i want to play along with a friend whos playin the guitar. for example some blues songs or just some easy other stuff.
or what does it mean if somebody says "im playin that song in eminor (or other specific chords)?"

UkeApe

davoomac
05-15-2008, 04:07 AM
Hey,
can anyone help me concerning improvising or accompaning somebody with the uke?
My problem is, that i just do not know which notes and in which order to play if i want to play along with a friend who´s playin the guitar. for example some blues songs or just some easy other stuff.
or what does it mean if somebody says "i´m playin that song in eminor (or other specific chords)?"

UkeApe

I can't give you direct advise, but this topic has been discuss to certain extents in these threads:



"how do you improvise" (http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=657&highlight=improvising)

"jazz ukulele and improvisation techniques" (http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=403&highlight=improvising)

seeso
05-15-2008, 04:31 AM
Hey,
can anyone help me concerning improvising or accompaning somebody with the uke?
My problem is, that i just do not know which notes and in which order to play if i want to play along with a friend who´s playin the guitar. for example some blues songs or just some easy other stuff.
or what does it mean if somebody says "i´m playin that song in eminor (or other specific chords)?"

UkeApe

When someone says, "I'm playing that song in E minor," what they're telling you is the name of what's called a "key."

Knowing what key you're in is essential to improvising. A key defines what notes one can play and establishes a song's tonal center. For example, if we're playing a song in the key of C major, we know that the only notes available to us are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B (There are exceptions to this rule, but we're keeping it simple for now), and the tonal center of the song is the note C.

How do we know this? Because we know how to build major scales. What, we don't know how to do that yet? Oh. Well, it's like this:

Building a major scale requires the use of a strict formula. Your ears know this already. It's getting your head and hands to know it that's the hard part. This formula is: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

Take a look at your uke. Each fret divides the strings into half steps. For example, the space between the 2nd fret on your C string (or any string) to the 3rd fret on your C string is a half step. The space between the 2nd fret to the 4th fret is a whole step.

Using the above formula, we can make a C major scale. Pluck your C string. That's our first note of the scale. The next note of the scale is a whole step above C, so we skip a fret and pluck the C string while fingering the 2nd fret. That note is a D. Skip another fret for the next note. Now we're at the 4th fret of the C string. That note is an E.

But wait, isn't one of our strings called an E already? Hey, yeah! It's the 2nd string, that's the E string. I wonder if we can play that string open instead of playing the 4th fret on the C string. Let's try. Yup, it's the same dang note. We sure are smart.

Our formula says to go up a half step to find our next note. This time we don't skip any frets, and pluck the E string while fingering its first fret. That note is an F. Go up a whole step for G, which is the third fret on the E string. One more whole step for A.

Ooh, looks like we found another cheat. We can play the A string open here, just like we did with E. One more whole step for the next note, B (second fret on the A string), and lastly, one final half step up from B gives us our lovely tonal center again, C, on the third fret of the A string.

Cool. Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

The scale tabbed out looks like this:



|----------0-2-3-|
|----0-1-3-------|
|0-2-------------|
|----------------|


Go ahead and play it a few times. Isn't that nice? I told you your ears knew it already. Try it backwards! Sweet. :bowdown:

Okay, now that we know how to build major scales, what next? When do we get to start shredding? Well, now that we know how to build major scales, we can pretty much do that right now.

All we have to do is find out what key we're playing in, build its major scale, and use those notes to jam with. Once we do that for awhile, our ears tell us that some notes are better than others for certain chords. Dang, our ears are smart.

So what notes are good for what chords? Here are a couple of sure bets:


By playing any of the three notes that make up a chord, we know we won't offend anyone. If we're playing a C chord, then we know that we can play the notes C, E, and G. If we're playing an F chord, then we know we can play the notes F, A, and C. If we're playing an Em chord, then we know we can play the notes E, G, and B, etc. We'll cover how to build chords later. I'm tired.


For any major chord, we know that we can play the notes of its major pentatonic scale. For any minor chord, we can play the notes of its minor pentatonic scale. We'll also cover this later. My poor fingers.


For now, just get used to finding and playing major scales. When you get done mastering the key of C, try to build a D major scale, or a G major scale, etc.

When you're jamming with your buddies, try these scales out. See what notes work and what notes do not work. After a little while, you'll be able to see patterns on the fretboard.

Hope this was helpful!

deach
05-15-2008, 04:34 AM
Professor seeso to the rescue again!


http://pic50.picturetrail.com/VOL435/10947091/19540705/316410293.jpg

uber_goober
05-15-2008, 06:44 AM
Awesome stuff from seeso, right on. I wanted to add a few thoughts to the thread. One thing to keep in mind while improvising is that your rhythm and feel is just as import as the notes you play, if not more so. If you play a wrong note in time, and just keep on going like it never happened, chances are you may not even notice it. One of the things we get hung up on is wrong notes...and what we do when we play them. The initial reaction is to freeze, and then try and "apologize" for the offending note. Don't worry about it. Just play the next note right in time like nothing ever happened.

Another sage piece of advice, what's on either side of a wrong note? You got it, a right note. :)

I won't claim any of the above is mine, a lot of it is a paraphrase of bassist Victor Wooten. My wife (she's a bassist) and I attended a clinic with him a while back and this was one of the big topics. To solidify the statements, he laid down a chord progression in G minor on a looper pedal, and then proceeded to solo over if using the 5 notes that aren't in G minor. And it sounded killer. He even alternated between all right notes, all wrong notes, and mixing the two. And it all sounded great. Granted, he's also Victor Wooten. :D But the point stuck.

Hope some of that helps. Just keep playing and improv-ing, and you'll get better. There's no other way to learn it that to do it.

-John

UkuleleApe
05-15-2008, 07:09 AM
first of all thanks to all of you who replied (especially seeso for his incredible helpful advises!=) and of course thanks to the others!).
Ill try out all the things that you advised me to do, think it will take some time to get used to it but it seems that practise is the only way to master all that improvising stuff...xD
So again: Thank you!

Aloha

UkeApe

edmundwhitehead
05-17-2008, 09:02 AM
Let me put it this way - think of music as a language. When you speak, do you think about how many nouns you are using, or what tense you're speaking in? Generally, no. The same is with music - use your ears, and you'll be able to figure it out for yourself. People have tried to learn using books, but in the end, their only playing what the book has told them to play, not the sound that they want to make. So don't learn from books, don't bother with theory, it's all a matter of using your ears to judge whether what you're playing sounds good.

Dominator
05-17-2008, 10:51 AM
So don't learn from books, don't bother with theory, it's all a matter of using your ears to judge whether what you're playing sounds good.

Edmund, I agree with you to a certain degree because I depend on my ear for the most part and have only dabbled in the theory stuff. The problem is that many people just don't have the ear you refer to. An example is all those kids that try out for American Idol who think they sound great ;)...but we know better.

BTW, great post Seeso. You da man.

davoomac
05-17-2008, 12:23 PM
Edmund, I agree with you to a certain degree because I depend on my ear for the most part and have only dabbled in the theory stuff. The problem is that many people just don't have the ear you refer to. An example is all those kids that try out for American Idol who think they sound great ;)...but we know better.

BTW, great post Seeso. You da man.

This is true. Though I dont consider myself good, I think I have a decent ear for music. This makes it easy for people like me to try tabbing. I know edmund has a good ear because he's done some amazing tabs of some tricky songs.

However as Dom said, there are many people who just don't have that ability to hear something and reproduce it for themselves. To a certain extent it can be trained and you can get better at listening, but for some people it comes naturally.

Howlin Hobbit
05-17-2008, 01:47 PM
At the risk of looking like I'm dogpiling on Edmund here, not only do I agree that not everybody has that kind of ear (I'm slowly developing a better one, but it's not to the "hear it, play it" level by any means), but I also think that "don't bother with theory" is a bit too broad.

I'd narrow it down to, don't bother becoming a theory wonk (unless you want to) but learning at least the basics of theory helps you to communicate with other musicians when jamming as well as helping you to figure out tunes when you're trying to develop that "ear."

UkuleleApe
05-17-2008, 11:05 PM
yeah im sure you all are right.
when i first started to "play" (haha rather "test") the uke, i needed some help to figure out at least some chords to play some tunes. so i got a book that should help and introduce the folks who wanted to play the uke.but...xD that book was not really helpful. sure, there where some hints and advices but that were things that someone who wants to play the uke (and not just some play along songs...) didnt need...so i started to play some tabs (especially jake tabs! (((Thanks Dom for all the tabs you tabbed youre a god!:))))) and i think you can also improve your uke skills if youre just playing with tabs( there is that clich that people only playing with tabs cant really play...).
But for improvising...yeah i think there is no one who learned to improvise without any practise...

edmundwhitehead
05-19-2008, 12:05 AM
I think what you guys said is perfectly fair, I think I got a little carried away with the whole "ear" thing, I was just trying to stress the fact that originality is really important when you're improvising, and that if you learn from a book then you're playing what the book is telling you to play, not what you feel.

davoomac
05-19-2008, 01:15 AM
yeah originality is very important I think. It's just that for some of us it is really hard. Even me even after years of playing ukulele I'm just now getting better at improvising. It is important to really listen to the different styles of music and after you get used to the sound of it, you can tell whether what your playing matches or not.

Also, learning a few scales helps also btw. Can anyone post up important scales or try to be really specific with their 'improvising strategy'?

I'd love to hear more in depth stuff about it. :nana:

TokyoUketarist
05-19-2008, 02:41 AM
Music theory is a tool and anything you learn whether it's from a book or by ear can only help you. You can learn to speak without going to school or studying from a book. But for the most part having a good education gives you a wider vocabulary and broadens your perspective on things.

My perspective on soloing is pretty much taking a major scale and working it for all it's worth. For example you have the C major scale and all the 7 modes built off the 7 notes of the scale. And I find if you learn at least that much plus chromatic, diminished wholetone and major and minor blues scales you're good to go in most situations. I did a simple lesson on how to apply the C major scale over all 7 chords of c major. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-bWXjtTgIIt's simple but I think it makes it a lot of sense to think of all the modes as really one scale so you don't have to memorize a billion scales just 12 major scales and how to apply them over the chords. Because it's all relative anyways. :rock:

Neil Cursed Diamond
06-10-2008, 02:23 PM
As far as scales go, I have a program called Virtual Fretboard that is a scale and chord calculator that works for any stringed instrument, it does cost $20 though.

http://www.virtual-fretboard.com/

Keonikapila
06-10-2008, 06:50 PM
I was going to reply to this thread when it first came up, but I was lazy...haha...since it's been resurrected, I guess I'll give it a go.

I have to warn you that this isn't a "method" by any means, this is just what worked for me...YMMV

When I first started out, the thought of memorizing a scales and all the notes on the fretboard was kinda frightening...for years I would go try again and again with mixed results and then pretty much give up on it for a few months.

What really helped me was actually realizing that if you play the notes that are part of the chord that's playing, it'll never sound "wrong"...as Seeso put it, "By playing any of the three notes that make up a chord, we know we won't offend anyone. If we're playing a C chord, then we know that we can play the notes C, E, and G."

From there, I used Sakuma's chord dictionary to learn at least 3 diffferent ways to play each of those "common chords".

So for example, here's 6 different ways to play the C chord:


|-3--3--7--7--10--15--
|-0--3--8--8--12--12--
|-0--4--7--7--12--12--
|-0--5--0--9--12--12--At the time, I didn't concern myself with what the name of each individual note was...all that mattered to me was that they existed in the chord that was playing. So with the C chord, I know I can hit any one of those frets in the example above and it won't sound "wrong"...

After that it was just experimentation to find different ways of connecting those notes together and further experimentation trying out notes from outside of the current chord.

In the beginning, I would sit down and record myself strumming one chord over and over again for a few minutes, then play it back and just get comfortable with improvising over the recording of that one chord. Eventually, after feeling comfortable in two chords, I would record a simple two chord progression (G, C, G, C, G, C...) and work on transitioning from one chord to the next and changing chords smoothly. After I was comfortable with that, I'd learn a D, or a D7, or a Bm, or a Bm7, or Em...well, I think you get the idea...

That was enough to give me the start I needed to start stumbling my way through my attempts at improvising, over time it gradually started getting better and better and eventually I learned the fretboard and the scales without realizing it.

For the most part I still improvise this way...I'm kind of forced to, my cousin comes up with his chord progressions by trial-and-error, so a lot of the time it's difficult (if not impossible) to group his set of chords into an actual scale (they still sound good though...and I kinda like it, it keeps me on my toes...haha)

seeso
06-10-2008, 08:25 PM
Great contribution, Keonikapila!!

UkuleleApe
06-11-2008, 08:21 AM
:D:D:D
thanks for your help guys!

Aldrine Guerrero
06-11-2008, 10:02 AM
The way that I started learning how to improv was by one note at a time. Playing with the root note and ONLY the root note. Trying to create a simple melody using one note. Here's an approach:

Start out by having someone play 2 chords. We'll use G and C as an example. We're going to be playing in a G scale.

So let's take our root note "G" and use various different techniques and rhythm to create a one note melody.

After you feel like you've ran out of ideas, add another note in there. Let's try the next note on our G scale "A" so we can now use the G and A note. Create as much melodies as possible using these two notes. Bend them, make them short, long, vibrato, pull off, hammer on, whatever tickles your fancy as long as you ONLY USE THOSE TWO NOTES.

Then let's add a third note, the third note in the scale which would be "B" then repeat the process over.

Improvisation doesn't need a million and one notes. To me, the melody is a lot more important than fitting as much notes in a measure as possible. SO if you can create a melody using 3 notes, imagine what you could do with 12?

Also, remember that in improv... there's no right or wrong notes... just wrong choices.

I'll make a uke minute on this :3

Sayyadina
06-11-2008, 10:26 AM
Very nice post. I'm learning a lot from all this. Thanks to all the guys who are contributing here!

UkuleleApe
06-12-2008, 05:18 AM
yeah i can only agree with Sayyadina!
There are so many possibilities to learn the uke just by looking around here at UU!
You are really offered a lot of help and that is so amazing and great! :)
Thanks again!

UApe

tripl3thr33
06-12-2008, 07:04 AM
I'll make a uke minute on this :3

sounds like a good idea. it would go good with the other music theory uke minutes with all the scales that you went over.

UkuleleApe
06-12-2008, 08:40 AM
thanks aldrine! :)