simple music secrets

Jazz Improvisation

Improvisation is most common in jazz where performers are allowed to express musically their own interpretation of the song. Common songs in jazz music are called standards and they are the definitive songs that are usually called when players are at a gig. As the majority of the pieces called are standards, there is little reason for the band to practice collectively. Therefore, jazz improvisation or solos can not be practiced with the band and must be created on the spot, hence the term improvisation.

Learning these standards is the first step to helping you with the improvisation. If you understand the melodic and chordal theory behind the song it is easier to improvise around and create a good jazz improvisation.

Learn Jazz Standardsjazz improvisation sax player

Jazz standards are usually in a 16 or 32 bar form. The whole group will play the "head" of the standard. This is the main melody or tune of the song and is played once through before the solos begin. It is good to know how long this will last as it is your cue to start your jazz improvisation. The leader of the band, either the conductor or singer will pick who will play first, most commonly the saxophone.

How to Jazz Solo



Chordal Progressions

Preparing for a jazz improvisation solo requires times, patience and experience. You can always learn the chordal progression of a tune as this is a fantastic indication of where your solo should lead. For example, take a basic chordal progression of C, F and G. Playing a C# scale over this progression would sound dissonant, whereas combining elements of the chords in the key that the song is written in would sound pleasing to the ear.

Try to practice licks and scale runs in every key. You can then use these licks in your jazz improvisation. Although you can not expect to learn an entire solo by heart, these small runs will help you link other elements together.

Remember when starting your jazz improvisation, like the song it should contain structure, dynamics and other interesting elements. Although once again, you can not plan the exact notes and rhythmic structure, it might be useful to mentally prepare something like the following structure for your solo.

Structure of a Jazz Improvisation

In the first section play evenly without overstatement. Play the melody with slight variations allowing for more advanced diversion later on. In the second section play with a slightly faster tempo and moderately loud progressing to a fever pitch if the music allows it and reverting back to the original tune at the end of your solo. A good jazz improvisation should have structure and emotional tension.

The most vital preparation is to know your scales in any key and at any position on your instrument. If you find improvising hard, sometimes playing simple variations of an arpeggio will get you through the 32 bar solo.

Further Jazz Improvisation Study

Finally, if you are a complete beginner at improvising invest in some jazz CDs available at good music stores. You can listen to how other players improvise around the music which may be able to give you ideas both technically and rhythmically. It is also an experience to go to live gigs. This way you can see how the performers interact with one another while playing, who takes the lead and how they improvise around the tune.

Over time, jazz improvisation will become easier. Experience is a great key as you learn what works well and what doesn’t.

Show Me How To Improvise !!

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