learning to improvise in gypsy jazz- beginner level



  • There are quite a few methods out there to help you and there are free and paid resources online to help you. I've listed a few below, but we are at a time when there are quite a few good resources out there.

    One to learn to improvise way is learning through arpeggios. Learn the basic arpeggios (major/minor) in position and extended and play them over slow playalongs. Learn some licks that are associated with the positions above.

    Once you are pretty good at this over a few songs, start adding some different arpeggios and licks that work with these. Once you are good at this, learn solos.

    An online equivalent would be Denis Chang's lessons at DC Music. In book form, Manifesting Manouche is a good starter. Learning the arpeggios will help you site things better along the neck.

    You can just skip all of this and learn solos and licks. Once you learn a solo or a chorus, break the solo apart lick by lick and pick the licks you like best. Then learn these individual licks in all keys. Then transfer these licks to new songs. So if you like a diminished lick over E7 you might have heard in "Minor Swing", try transferring it to the E7 or A7 in "All of Me." The following video explains this a lot better than me.
    This is not a is equally time consuming. Everytime you learn a lick you like, write it down. If you're really organized, keep your licks by chord or phrase type and practice that way.

    If you have access to a local player who teaches IN the STYLE (important), that is the best way to do it.

    Any of the ideas listed in this entire thread are valid. The key is that you have to figure out what is most effective for you. I prefer to transcribe and then figure out why and how the thing I've transcribed works. Additionally, the goal is to really learn your instrument and play by ear (and without charts).

  • Posts: 2,702
    @rafapak The question that comes to my mind is what are your short to long term goals?
    Where would you like to see yourself in a few months and a few years?

    By defining those you can choose which path to follow from the advice here, which vary in approach and complexity.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 444
    Practice playing tunes by ear.
    Once through and then change key or a new tune.
    No tab, no music, ALL YOUR OWN WORK.

    Jim Kaznosky
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,395
    True, and I do a lot of MY OWN WORK.

    But the more of my own work that I do, the less my playing sounds like GJ.

    Which is not a deal-breaker in my case, since I'm not actually trying to play GJ.

    However, I've gotta say, if I were actually trying to play GJ, then I'd spend a lot more time on the methods above which others have suggested.
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,106
    When beginners ask me for private lessons, I always start by asking them how many songs they know. If they don't know any, I tell them to learn at least 4-6 before coming to a lesson. I usually recommend Minor Swing, Minor Blues, Dark Eyes, Coquette, All Of Me, I Can't Give You Anything But Love.

    They should start by working on the rhythm, and if they can, pick up the melody from different recordings.

    To me, one of the big secrets of improvising in a certain style, is the repertoire. A lot of the secrets to harmony/melody/voice leading/phrasing can be found in the songs. Django was certainly aware of this (maybe subconsciously)!
    NylonDaveElí Saúl
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 444
    dennis wrote: »

    To me, one of the big secrets of improvising in a certain style, is the repertoire. A lot of the secrets to harmony/melody/voice leading/phrasing can be found in the songs. Django was certainly aware of this (maybe subconsciously)!

    So true.
    And so easy to miss when spoonfed.

  • ShemiShemi Cardiff✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 Posts: 170
    I was thinking on this yesterday whilst singing rep as I got myself lost in IKEA. I'm currently trying to expand my rep as I've been concentrating on 15 or so songs for a long while. I felt that it was worthwhile to practice improvisation over a small set of songs, transcribing solos for them, experimenting with licks and concepts,etc. I figured that it would best to not get overwhelmed by learning too many and instead learn to apply what I've learnt, hear and know relatively well over a few choice ones that each have something different to challenge me, Christophe change, dominant chains, etc.

    Now I feel comfortable doing that I've been learning new tunes and am discovering in each new one I learn I can find something new and interesting that helps my improv. It occurred to me that the melody often offers some really simple ideas that are much easier to embellish and play with than an already complicated lick.
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