Section 3.0 (New July 2000) (back to index)

Improvisation ( make it up as you go along)

To improvise is just that - we make it up as we go along. However, you need to keep the three fundamentals in mind as you make it up.

Rhythm - Melody - Harmony

So you improvise with the rhythm ( although you can be improvising the rhythm too - that's what good drummers do ! )

You should be thinking melody - and if you are quick and nimble on the guitar you can make up rhythm, melody and harmony - and play them all - all at once.

No need to run before you can walk though, and here's the first fundamental - a twelve bar blues rhythm to set up a line to improvise on.

Note that the rhythm in this piece is a blues - a 'swing rhythm.'

This reveals a key difference in some students. Many students when this rhythm is played to them will play the same swung rhythm when asked to. Strangely though some students do not do this. They play the rhythm straight(not swung). I do not know the reason for this - perhaps some people never hear swing before it is taught to them. But I know this

- It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

Technically, not too many of those that do swing know what they are doing when they are swinging. It does not matter of course, unless you are trying to describe to someone what you are doing. What we do when we swing - we steal a little time from the second note in a group of two - so the first note, third note, 5th note etc. are slightly longer the the 2nd, 4th etc.


So it comes out in a 4/4 rhythm as long short long short long short long short (Playing eighth notes.)


When you think you have this, make a recording of 72 bars into your favourite sound editor. If you've never done any sound recording before - see the comments about microphones in Section 1.2 The First Song

If after many attempts you cannot get a usable recording, you need to go back to basics. Check your rhythm, check your tone, check everything. If you still cannot get it, try using a rhythm track. There are many programs to generate rhythm, BandinaBox, Jammer, and simple rhythm machines - experiment with these anyway.

You need to have at least 36 bars recorded before moving on to the next stage of improvisation.

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