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Thread: Improvising on the Ukulele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    Default Improvising on the Ukulele



    I basically made it up as I played. Whatever chord popped into my head was the next one I would play.

    Jared

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    364

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    Kudos for trying.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    @Barrytone, If you dont mind my asking, What do you mean by "trying?" Did I do something wrong while playing?

    I forgot to mention, I do this to practice transitioning to different chords.

    Jared

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Marin County, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnicholes View Post
    @Barrytone, If you dont mind my asking, What do you mean by "trying?" Did I do something wrong while playing?

    I forgot to mention, I do this to practice transitioning to different chords.

    Jared
    No need to justify yourself, it was an awesome little session! The nice thing about improv is it doesn’t have to “work” from a purely technical music theory standpoint, which may be where the other comment is coming from.

    I think you had some amazing little sections/riffs that worked well, and some that worked less well, but again that is all personal.

    If I may, here are some suggestions to improve your improv game, or at least diversify your practice.

    - I would get and practice with a metronome. Set it to a tempo you’re comfortable with. While you had a pretty good rhythm throughout, there were moments where the tempo slowed or the flow stopped, and if you have that outside clicking going you can get more comfortable internalizing it.

    - Learn the “Circle of Fifths” and practice changing chords in the progression, either clockwise or counterclockwise. This is simply an arrangement of different key signatures that are a perfect fifth apart from the key to their left or right on the circle. Chords typically sound great going from the fifth into the tonic or root of whatever key you’re in, and can be an easy way to jam/noodle around while sounding “good” (again, not that what you were doing didn’t!)

    - Practice scales in all keys. Combined with a secondhand familiarity with the Circle of Fifths, being able to whip out a major or blues or Lydian scale will make your improv sessions more interesting aurally, and will help you diversify your music theory chops. Does an A minor scale, or part of it, sound good in a riff in the key of C? Yes! But that’s because they are relative keys (C major and A minor share the same number of accidentals, or sharps/flats), and thus use the same note names in their respective scales. But unless you’re practicing those scales, you’d never know.

    - If you record your sessions (which I recommend) you can listen back for and try to replay the “better sounding” riffs you come up with. Then memorize the chord progression pattern, and you have a fun little riff in your back pocket for any key (provided you’re ok transposing)

    The nice thing about all of the scales and chord shapes is they remain constant no matter where you are on the instrument. So once you have those down as “second nature,” it frees your mind up to think more about adding things like a melody line or song lyrics over the top of the muscle memory in your hands.

    Keep it up, and don’t feel discouraged by other opinions. The goal, unless you’re going pro, is to have fun, which it sounds like you’re doing.
    Current UAS fallout:

    Ohana SK-21A — ‘10s L. Nunes Ukulele 0 Hawaii Soprano — 1918-19 Martin 2M Soprano — ‘60s Kamaka ‘Keiki’ Soprano — ‘70s Kamaka White Label Soprano — Blue Frog Soprano — aNueNue Moon Bird US200 — Ohana SK-30L — Cocobolo Concert #382 (teak!) — Outdoor Ukulele Carbon Tenor — ‘50s Harmony Baritone


    Mead Ambassador/Horticulturist at Heidrun Meadery since 2017

    Teaching Music Together since 2019

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