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Improvisation Archives - Page 2

Learning to Jam
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning to Jam

Q: Okay, I am an old rookie bass player. I always wanted to play, but I just took a long time to get started. I am playing with the praise band at my church currently, which is great; it’s making me take it seriously, and is a very forgiving environment as I learn. So far, I’m learning songs, and in...

Developing a Solo Over Chord Changes
Ask Damian Erskine

Developing a Solo Over Chord Changes

Q: I have a question about improvising. If one browses the internet for learning how to improvise on the bass guitar, one can easily find lots of great tips: learn familiar melodies and expand them, learn solos from other instruments and be inspired by others. I would like to know about how to approach improvising using musical theory. In this...

Beginning Jazz Soloing: A Melody First Approach
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Beginning Jazz Soloing: A Melody First Approach

Some methods of learning jazz improvisation start out from the beginning by asking us to memorize chords, scales, and to play patterns in every key. For those unaccustomed to improvising, or inexperienced in theory, starting out this way can be a daunting task. It can make the learning curve for improvisation seem insurmountable. Some people take naturally to it, of...

On Musical Expression and Playing Freely
Ask Damian Erskine

On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

Q: I’ve been wondering about what people really mean when they speak of “music as a language,” and how this applies to improvising. When I take a solo, I feel like I’m just running the same patterns over and over again and never really doing anything different from song to song. What thoughts do you have about this? A: This...

Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation

Students of improvisation are often looking for the quickest way to learn vast amounts of new material, all while sounding great immediately. Oftentimes this translates into playing a large number of tunes for a few minutes each. In the short term, such practice sessions can be helpful. This is especially true if we need to learn a great deal of...

Jimmy Haslip: Modern Improvisation for Bass
Sheet Music & Instruction

Jimmy Haslip: Modern Improvisation for Bass

Jimmy Haslip has authored an instructional method book for bassists, focusing on the art of improvisation and expanding creative expression in jazz. Modern Improvisation for Bass, published by Alfred Music Publishing, covers a range of topics, including broadening music vocabulary with modes, altered harmony, and chord substitutions, creating walking bass lines, using pedal tones and chordal arpeggios, and expanding soloing...

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of a C7 chord: …and precede...

Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression
Bass Lessons

Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression

My most recent lessons have focused on the use of the pentatonic scales as it relates to improvising and learning the fretboard (see my lessons on improvising over a minor key progression and breaking down the pentatonic scale for more background). Today we’ll continue this topic with the exploration of improvising over a D minor 7 chord using the pentatonic...

Dr. D’s Guide to Improving Your Walking Bass Lines
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Dr. D’s Guide to Improving Your Walking Bass Lines

I regularly see students who are unhappy with their walking bass lines. Perhaps they don’t like how their lines lead (or don’t lead) from chord to chord. Perhaps they find themselves falling into predictable patterns over and over again. Perhaps their range is limited. Perhaps they just don’t find their lines satisfying. All of this can occur even when the...

Pacing Your Solos: A Guide to Improvisation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Pacing Your Solos: A Guide to Improvisation

It is not uncommon for students of improvisation to approach their practice without a real plan. They simply start trying to improvise a solo, without really focusing on When, How or What to play, hoping things will simply get better over time. I was certainly guilty of this. It’s one reason I developed my expandable “Tune Treatment” mentioned in an...