i'm new to improvising. i can't come up with creative rythems and phrases.  how can i make improvs more exciting?
There are 24 comments, leave a comment.
listen to a lot of recordings and copy. or get a good book like how to play the blues by junior mance for example. combing both learning tools will help. also, go get band-in-a-box software and use that. https://pgmusic.com

as far as your playing, you are on the right track, but your rhythm is too sloppy.
whats band in a box?
chapter on the blues. one idea is to repeat what you play a lot. just knowing this, you realize that's what the big dogs do.  
so for example, in the first 4 bars, play a phrase. then repeat it in the next 4 bars, then repeat again in the last 4 bars, possibly extending the phrase or adding something new. you can move the phrase up and down, so long as you keep the same shape, it works well.

this guy:
shows a bunch of blues / boogie riffs. there's a number of riffs on this site too.  

band in a box is a piece of software for pc where you essentially enter a progression and it plays bass / drums / guitar whatever. it's pretty neat if you have a pc handy.
not bad, it's creative enough for where you are at. the way i suggest for you to get better is to do exactly what you are doing for several hours every day. after a while the experience will tighten up your reflexes, timing and you will become more fluent in your already decent ideas.
i had no idea what i was doing while i was improvising. jazz+, do you have videos or audio of yourself playing?
for the most part littlerascal, you are in the groove.  remember, a solo has a beginning, a middle, and a grand finale.  something i think about when developing a piece like this is to state a melody softly, develop it a little more fully on the second and third verses , and then open up the stops on the way out with 7ths, doublets, and scalar runs.  vanbasco player can help too.
littlerascal you are doing much better than you give yourself credit for! move away from straight blues scale. check out improvisation: the concept on my site. it will help you see how to create a melody that moves from tension to release.

mojazz, please go into a little more detail about how you would productively use the junior mance book.  i have it and have gotten next to nothing from it, so clearly i'm missing something.  i would recommend our own tim richard's improvising blues piano as having far more potential to help a novice.
i'm right around the corner from where you're at..  i felt that doing something with a minor progression also builds more vocabulary.  also, to build on jmkarns said, each phrase or connected line is a chunk or a statement.  you make a solid statement, and then take a breath, and then come in with a new statement.  you tie these statements together and you have a somewhat structured solo, which is what i'm working on right now.

it's very easy to keep playing, or blabbering, so you want to concentrate on what's necessary and effective.  and just not play in between.
(btw, by "right around" i meant that i'm learning to improv too, so take my advice with a grain of salt) :-)
abersold is a good learning tool, but here is the real secret to good blues playing in three steps:

1) fall in love
2) wait till she leaves you or cheats on you and breaks your heart
3) go to the piano while thinking about her. you are now ready to play the blues.


if you have already had your heart broken before, you can eliminate
step 1 and 2 and just go back in your mind to the time of the break up.
for each time heart is broken, repeat step 3.
what you want to do is start familiarizing yourself with patterns/licks(aka creative rythems and phrases)used by other players you're listening to..online there are a lot of resources for this(explore this site in detail to begin with)-i don't know if you can read music or not(again online there are sites to help you with this)but if you can,aebersolds' site has a section which gives info/examples of what types of things to get into practicing-

if the stuff here is new to you,spend some time getting to understand/figure out how to use it in your own practice routines,then you can move to the next step of using your own ideas/ideas you've found from other sources in place of the ones they use.......if you want to see my own take on internalizing things so they'll come out when you play-

part two gets into this in detail-here are a couple of excerpts-
if you're working on developing your melodic approach and wondering about the way to use the phrases you've been transcribing,here are some ideas of ways to maximize your practice time and to get some concrete results,rather than playing through whole solos and wondering why you don't seem to be able to reflect the stuff you're working on so diligently in your actual improvised solos.

        (take a look at the book in the excellent series by david baker that deals with how to isolate and practice phrases and parts of solos to get an idea of what i'm talking about here,i have to apologize for forgetting which one it is,they're all excellent as are so many other great jazz piano books on the market. )                    

first of all,decide on a line you want to  internalize.the process of being able to play a  given melodic phrase as part of an improvised solo in a  "stream of consciousness" way is different than the process involved in "memorizing and consciously playing something from memory"although some of the procedures involved are similar.  

         once you've decided on a phrase,(usually it's better to start with just four or eight notes,depending on the level of your cognitive and differentiative abilities),the next step is to determine the harmonic context of the phrase you've isolated,i.e.is the chord type the line is based on maj,min,dim,aug,sus,dom7,2-5, etc. what i recommend is that you start to keep a manuscript notebook where you write down the lines you're working  on according to their harmonic function(for those  players that haven't learned to read and write music, you can use different cassettes,each labeled with  a specific type of line).this helps you to see what types of patterns you're focusing on and will alert  you if you're trying to learn too many of one kind  of pattern;your internal ear can only differentiate  between so many ways to play on a different chord  and giving it too much conscious information will  prevent you from learning anything at all.  

     the term "inner ear"describes the faculty you're developing. here are some ways to go about it:  

1.play the line with the chord  
2.play the chord,listen to hear the line internally,especially the starting note. (this is important because sometimes you'll hear the line back from your inner ear on a different starting note on the chord,many lines can work patternwise on more than one note of a chord and you want to be sure that's not happening.although as an advanced improviser you may want to start to concieve of patterns in of themselves,independent of their harmonic function,you want to be careful of this at the beginning.  

3.play the chord again,relying on your internal aural impressions,not intellectual process,to concieve of it,(unless the line is unfamiliar;if this is the case,continue to repeat #1).  

4.play the chord and this time try to sing the starting note and as much of the line as you can.  

5.play the line with the chord again,listen,then play the first note of the line while holding the chord and sing the rest.  

6.hit the chord,stop,listen internally in the silence,then find the line on the piano while singing it at the same time(incidentally once you're able to sing the lines you're studying,you can sing the line when you play it each time,starting from #1,this may speed up the internalization process,also you may have noticed how great pianists like stephen scott actually are singing the lines they're playing as they solo)  

7.playing the same line in different keys is often the next step many players use,you can do this around the cycle of fifths or using root movements of half or whole steps,aug. or dim.chords,it's up to you. with this step,the following consideration should be taken into account-play the line only as long as  your inner ear is "interested"and retains the memory of the line,(this gets into the area of productive vs.self-deadening practice techniques),as far as how many different keys to play the same line in.at this point,it's often a good idea to start the same process over in a new key,using another line and,depending on your own judgement,another type of harmonic context.  

8.review and retention is more important than how many different lines you work on and how many different keys you play them in;to this end,once you've done a few,stop and re-familiarize yourself with them before moving on.with this in particular,the axiom "less is more" definitely applies.  

9.the goal of all of this is to reach the point where you can sit down,play the chord,sing the line, sing and play the line together with the chord,then play the line, without singing it,as you play the chord.  

10.unlike speed-and-facility-related technical practice,this stuff is best done slowly,using no tempo at all,just concentrating on your inner processes.
compare this process with the usual "playing a line through the keys" approach (which probably will work better once this type of thing has affected your ears/memory/finger coordination)........
i forgot about that little jazz book, it was such a resource!
mojazz -- 09/13/2007 --  
"listen to a lot of recordings and copy. or get a good book like how to play the blues by junior mance."

i don't know about that book, but junior mance sure recorded a whole lot of blues recordings.  i think about "buddy and the juniors" (buddy guy; junior wells; junior mance) right now.  

you could learn about a quarter of what it takes to play blues piano if you learn all that stuff cold.  

(another quarter goes to otis spann, the third quarter goes to professor longhair, and the last quarter goes to johnnie johnson, in case you're interested in who are the top blues piano players.)
man that professor longhair could boogie woogie.  which album do you recommend?  i only own house party.
i found junior mance's book a valuable insight to what a blues master personal view of what blues piano is to him. junior is not only a great player, but a "schooled" musician. having him notate his blues piano parts so anyone can study them is very important to me.  

when i got this book i was thinking why he wasn't explaining the reasons or theory behind his chord substitutions on his chord progression examples. there is really no tutorial step by step follow-up to his examples. then, after thinking about what he said about what the blues means to him, i got it.

the blues is the "living it and doing it" not the thinking about how to play it. that is what junior was presenting in his book. it's not about knowing why he uses what scales or chord progressions. that is music theory. learn and play his examples and you will get a bit of  where junior's coming from.  

also, his personal anecdotes about the history of the blues was educational. for example, he writes about the "sanctified" rhythm of blues that came from the church.  

les gov, his book is not for someone who knows nothing about playing blues piano. they would need to get a theory book and learn the scales and chords first. littlerascal, can already play blues and can read notation. i thought this book could really help him with how a great blues master explains his playing in a written format.

jaledin, i agree that listening to blues recordings is the best way to learn to "get it". to me "stealin'" a few riffs and phrases is what keeps the tradition alive.
i only wish otis spann and the other greats could have published a book, too.
thanks, mojazz, i shall revisit the book with that in mind.  i haven't looked at it in a long time and was probably expecting more hand holding  and "thinking about how to play it".
Please sign in to post.

Jazz Piano Notebook Series
Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 1 - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version - videos

Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 2 - jazz piano tricks of the trade you can use today

Volume 2 has 14 jazz piano exercises and tricks of the trade, and quite a bit of it is Calypso jazz piano related material, including some Monty Alexander and Michel Camilo style grooves. Jazz piano education is through the ears, but books like this can help.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 3 contains 12 jazz piano exercises and explorations by the acclaimed jazz piano educator, pianist, author, and recording artist Tim Richards.

Tim wrote the well known "Exploring Jazz Piano" and "Improvising Blues Piano" books and has several others to his name.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 4 is by Jeff Brent, a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author of "Modalogy" and other acclaimed jazz theory and education books. In this book Jeff shares detailed analysis of transcriptions of live performances. He covers everything from the shape of the songs to the tricks and licks he uses in improvised lines to the ideas behind his lush chord voicings.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Most Recent Discussions
Volume 5 of Scot Ranney's "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is up and running!
How to Develop Your Improvisation from Beginner to Advanced
Big Chief
How to Play Bossa Nova
Best Pianos for Beginners
How to Reharmonise a song

Volume 5 of the "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is Available!
LearnJazzPiano.com File Downloads News
One Hour of Relaxing Piano Music
Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook
Fundamentos Físicos del Sonido
Aprendiendo a tocar PIANO gratis con partitura

Top Sheetmusic Picks

Jazzy Christmas Arrangements
Cocktail Piano
Best Songs Ever, 6th Edition
Christmas Medley
Moana Songbook
Late Night Jazz Piano

Jazz piano education is cool.

be the main character in your own story

Rock on. Follow your passion.

Sign In

privacy policyterms of serviceabout • 50,656 messages 63,069 accounts 53,817 logins
LearnJazzPiano.com Copyright © 1995-2019 by Scot Ranney • website software and design by scot's scripts
LearnJazzPiano.com is For Sale - Serious Inquiries Only