You Make the Call: Your approach to Improvisation

bluessyndicate

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Forget about theory books, and one up-ing someone on theory knowledge with the possibilities...what do YOU do in the real world.

Your at an open jam, playing with other guitarists, bassists, drummers, keyboard players that you've never met. The song is passed to you with minimal communication.

We are playing a C7 F progression, over and over, one chord per measure.

Its your turn to play lead....

How do you approach the lead in terms of first scales and/or modes. Extra credit for explaining your approach to approach for dynamics/emotion/build etc... obvious this could vary night to night, but share one of your approaches.

 

dewey decibel

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Ahhhh, we're getting down to the real nuts and bolts.


I'd like to give you an answer, but I can't. What I actually decide to play or the approach I'd take has nothing to do with the information you've provided such as chord changes, instrumentation, etc. It's all about the things that are hard to talk about on an online forum- the feel, the groove, the way the instruments sound, if people are listening to each other, what the focus is, who's the leader, etc.


But generally in a situation where I don't know people I start out slow and try and find some common ground while I play. I'm the type that will try and find a way to fit into a playing situation rather than blow over the top of it.
 

Free

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With that C7 going back and forth to F, it implies a key center of F, but not neccesarily. That said, regardless of the groove and feel, it would be most easily broken down by applying a note palette based on F Ionian or F Mixolydian, at times emphasize C7 (Bb, E, etc) chord tones upon hitting C7, and mess with some alterations and chromatics. Or most likely, knowing my style, F Mixolydian with C Blues pentatonic on C7. It depends on how melodic, funky, bluesy, or jazzy, etc I wanted it to sound.

I have a feeling others more jazz-oriented here are going to recommend soloing Cm7 or other varying scale substitutions in related keys for varying levels of dissonance and charater. I'm interested to read how others do approach soloing. Good thread here.

-Mike
 

Gigbag

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I would play strictly Bb altered sub-dominant locridilydian on the C7 and F until the last F chord and then I would play a 2nd inversion augmented G9#6 chord and sustain that for 35 seconds after the others stop playing.

Actually, I am more in line with the first reply. I would have to see how the music hit me at the moment.
 

heretic

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Play melodies. Not to get flippant or anything...sing what you play. Get your inspiration from the great simple melodies over bluesy changes, like "Mercy Mercy Mercy" or "Freeway Jam" "The Chicken" or go back even to "Sesame Street" or "The Cosby Show".
 

bluessyndicate

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How come the only thing that counts is the solo?
With 7 replies there is only one serious answer thus far...good thing the scope was limited to the lead! In the next thread we can discuss whatever Ken wants to discuss.... whether it's what you play in support of the lead all the way to which leg you put most of your weight on.

Just kidding..and I must say the serious replies are insightful/helpful and the non serious replies have made me laugh like hell thus far.

This exercise is a true life situation...I was at an open blues jam, and ended up with some non blues players and as the drums started up someone passed the chord changes to me and said "go".... I am seriously trying to broaden my horizons by seeing how y'all would have handled it. I rarely get a chance to post in the "playing and technique" section.
 

Serious Poo

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Usually, I just listen for the song's melody and start with some variation of that. Or play a completely different melody line to liven things up. Sometimes if the last person who soloed played something flashy, I'll go ultra simple in my phrasing. Or vice versa. Or not. :rolleyes: Sometimes I'll key off our drummer and play something rhythmically aligned with his high hat & snare. Sometimes I'll cop the bass line and play off of that. S ometimes I'll work in something repetitive to add some tension and then go back to simple melodic phrasing at the end. Or not. :D
 

KRosser

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With 7 replies there is only one serious answer thus far...good thing the scope was limited to the lead! In the next thread we can discuss whatever Ken wants to discuss.... whether it's what you play in support of the lead all the way to which leg you put most of your weight on.

Just kidding..and I must say the serious replies are insightful/helpful and the non serious replies have made me laugh like hell thus far.

This exercise is a true life situation...I was at an open blues jam, and ended up with some non blues players and as the drums started up someone passed the chord changes to me and said "go".... I am seriously trying to broaden my horizons by seeing how y'all would have handled it. I rarely get a chance to post in the "playing and technique" section.
If you were looking for feedback on your situation, you probably should have just lead with that instead of the hypothetical.

Without being there, it's impossible to say what you should have done, but jam session chops are just something that improves slowly with practice. I don't think you can necessarily always know what the perfect thing to do is; your instincts just get better over time.

BTW, I was being 100% serious, in terms of the question you asked.
 

bluessyndicate

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If you were looking for feedback on your situation, you probably should have just lead with that instead of the hypothetical.

Without being there, it's impossible to say what you should have done, but jam session chops are just something that improves slowly with practice. I don't think you can necessarily always know what the perfect thing to do is; your instincts just get better over time.

BTW, I was being 100% serious, in terms of the question you asked.
Thanks Ken;

I viewed your original question as pertinent and insightful, it's just that in this thread I chose to focus on one element, as opposed to ending up with an open ended thread that went off in many directions. If this thread is useful then your question would be a fun follow up. Hopefully my attempt at humor, which I tried to make clear was in jest, did not belittle the value of your question.

Truthfully I'm not trying to ask what I should have done, as there is no right answer there. In fact I did play around in Cm, for what it's worth, and it worked out fine.

I find value in the hypothetical situation. This is not about getting feedback on what I did. It's about learning about how other people might have approached this situation on a given night, and learning from their unique perspectives. I am open to pushing my comfort zone, and hearing these other ideas is interesting. Some of the responses are no doubt text book and expected...the more responses we get perhaps the more interesting it might get.

I tried to word the question as being what one approach might be on a given night, so as to alleviate any pressure one might feel to have to come up with something brilliant that would survive internet peer scrutiny, hopefully freeing up perhaps even an MI instructor to participate for fun without apprehension of scrutiny by trolls. :AOK

I have found value personally in hearing Free and Guitartone replies and even Gigbag's 1/2 joke 1/2 serious reply. And I have enjoyed all the humorous replies.
 

Free

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It's pretty obvious to me that many here are in essence making excuses for not having adequate theoretical insight. Don't discount what you can't readily apply to a playing situation. First understand it, THEN you can discount it all. That's my opinion. It's not difficult stuff - really simple concepts to learn basic theory.

This could be an interesting thread. A chance to show your application of theory on a progression that doesn't dictate absolutely what it must be.
 

dewey decibel

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10,321
My reply was dead serious. C7 to F isn't enough information. You didn't even give a genre, style, feel or anything. Didn't say what the bass was doing- all of which is going to affect my approach. How the chords are voiced is going to have an affect. It all matters....
 




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