Endless Improvisation Lines

Hello everybody and welcome to The Confident improviser podcast. This is episode number one and I am your host, Willie Myette. Alright, so today’s topic is how to create endless improvisation lines over a steady accompaniment. Now before we get into that topic, let me just tell you who This podcast is for. This podcast is best used as a companion to my confident improviser course, which is found at jazz edge. The podcast is designed to help you stay focused on your improvisation even while you’re away from the piano. Now I’m recording video of this as well. And the video replay will be in the confident improviser course, found the jazz edge for any of my jazz ed students. Or you can also go to the confident improviser.com. Click on blog and you’ll see the video replay there as well. Alright, so today’s topic, how to create endless improvisation lines over a steady accompaniment. So first of all, if we go back to what we did in episode one and exercise one rather, of the confident improviser, we were basically improvising over this steady

baseline right? I showed you how to do that.

And we were doing different lines and whatnot in the right hand over utilizing that five finger minor scale. Okay. And if you want more information on that, just go ahead into the exercise. And you can grab all of that the sheet music, the backing track and all of the instruction there today, we want to talk about how do we expand those lines so that when you’re improvising, it becomes a lot easier for you to just be able to just freely play it. So in order to really kind of dive into that and understand that we first of all have to understand the different parts of our improvisation, as I talked about in the confident improviser programming in that first exercise, you know that we’re breaking things into a component into ingredients into rhythm, and then finally into, let’s just call them licks, all right, or exercises. So the accompaniment is the first thing that is most important, right, and they come from it that we’re using in the left hand, it’s that simple. half note, baseline, right, just very simple. Doo, doo, doo, doo, some vocalizing that as do, ooh, all right, or you could simply say 12341234, whichever way you want,

right? It’s a half note, baseline.

Okay, so we have that half to baseline in the left hand.

And then basically in the right hand,

where our ingredients are the C minor five finger scale, which again, those notes are C, D, E, flat, F, and G. Right? We play that with each thing. We want to be able to kind of go up and down in that and feel very comfortable with those notes. So the accompaniment has to be completely steady. If I add my right hand improvisation to an to an accompaniment that I don’t really


or that’s not steady, then my improvisation is going to fall apart. Right? Will you make sound? Yeah, sure, you’ll make sound, but it’s not really going to sound all that good, because rhythmically, it’s just all going to fall apart. So the first thing you always have to make sure of is that you really kind of have your accompaniment together in the left hand, right. And again, of course, we’re assuming that you’re going to accompany yourself in the left hand with with something rather than just improvising right hand only. Okay, so we have our accompaniment, we have our notes or our ingredients, as we call it. And then basically, we had a rhythm that we learned in the exercise, which was the quarter notes and eighth notes, okay, can really be any rhythm that you want. So for today’s exercise, and for today’s thought process here, we want to be able to create really endless improvisation lines over that study accompaniment. And again, this podcast is designed for you to be able to kind of listen to this away from the instrument. So what I’m going to do is in the left

hand, I’m going to just play

just the note C, and because it’s gonna stand a note C, right? Now, I’m assuming that you’re not at the piano, so you’re not going to just play the note C. Instead, every time you hear this note, see down here, this would be your left hand, tapping either your leg, the steering wheel, whatever, okay? But you want to have that left hand moving and tapping something, okay. Now, I could also be clapping it as well. Right? But then if I’m clapping it, then my right hand can’t do anything else. And if I just kind of tap on my keyboard here, you might not be able to hear that. So to make it easier for you to hear. I’m just going to play that left

hand And just on that note,

see, okay, so what I’m doing is I’m translating this


that we were doing before, right?

Just to its rhythm. So its rhythm is just the half note. So

okay, so I

got that going in my left hand, right? I might be driving along, tapping this on the steering wheel. So then what am I going to do in the right hand.

So the first thing to do is

just see if you can get quarter notes over that steady. Eighth, I’m sorry, the steady half notes in the left hand. Alright, so I have doo,

doo, doo. So what

I’m gonna do is up here, when you hear that higher pitch, that’s going to be my right hand. Okay, so if I was driving along, then my right hand is going to be happiness. Of course, if you’re driving, be safe with all of this. Okay? So here I have do

boo, boo,

boo. So I saw the corners.

Alright, so pretty simple, right? Just fine. four

notes in the right hand there. I can shift.

Now, I might want to slow

it down a little bit. And also, I might want to swing those eighth notes.

Why? Because

when I actually

play it, I’m going to likely swing those eighth notes. So give me something like this.

Play along with me.

Okay, all right. So I have quarter notes in the left hand, and then I have eighth notes in the right hand. Okay, I’m sorry, not course, I had half notes in the left hand, forgive me half notes in the left hand, eighth notes in the right hand. So now what I could do is I could switch between quarter notes, and eighth notes. Believe it or not, it could get a little bit challenging doing that. So let’s start slow again. boo, boo, right, left hand. Now I’m going to add in those right hand corner notes, right, here I go.

Here’s my quarter notes.

I’m going to shift the

buddy buddy, buddy. Right. Okay,

so now let’s talk about the word endless,

really Willy

endless improvisation lines? Yeah, I mean, it’s almost endless in that, guess what, there are so many different combinations, that by the time you actually add them all up, it’s going to seem endless for you. Right. So now, we have quarter notes in the right hand that we did. And we have eighth notes in the right hand. And we did. Let’s first of all talk about time, right now, our time signature for right now is four, four, this means that we’re playing in four four time, right? Just common time for four, which means that there are four beats per measure, the quarter note equals one beat. And that measure would also equal eight eighth notes. Okay, so just try and kind of imagine in your, in your mind’s eye that you’re seeing four quarter notes, or eight eighth notes in the measure. Now, remember to how long is that accompaniment? That we’re improvising over it? Is it one measure? Or is it two measures? Well take a lesson 1234123412341. So how many measures Did you hear? If you said one? That’s not right, we said three? Definitely not. Right? If you said to Yes, it’s two measures long. So now that means that we have not just eight eighth notes, we really have 16 eighth notes over the course of those two measures. All right. So now back to the word endless. How do we create these endless possibilities? Well, what we do is we mix together, quarter notes, and eighth notes. Okay. Now a lot of times I would have a visual, but since this is a podcast, even if you’re watching the video replay, I don’t want there to be too many visuals because I want to make sure that I’m explaining it to those of you that are just listening. Right? So we have two measures. I suggest for right now, don’t worry about two measures.

Just think one measure at a time.

So either you have four quarter notes, or you have eight eighth notes. So one possibility is this one, two, here we go.


Right. So it’s four quarter notes in the right hand, two half notes in the left hand for my baseline, okay, or what if I did eighth notes, one, two, ready go. Right now I had eight eighth notes in the right hand to my two half notes in the left hand. So now, the big reveal the endless word, what we do is we mix between quarter notes, and eighth notes, really sky’s the limit, you could do whatever combination that you want, I suggest that maybe you start with something that’s a little bit easier, right? So rather than just trying to kind of get right into it and move between quarter notes and eighth notes, do something that logically makes sense. Okay, so what if we did two quarter notes, and then four eighth notes. So without sound like stuff like this? 1234? So two quarter notes, and then four eighth notes. What if I did one quarter note? What if we did one quarter note two eighth notes, one quarter note two eighth notes. Try that one, two. Here we go.

Right, what if I did six eighth notes. And then one quarter note. Now it’s not like this? One, two, ready, go.

Or what if I did one quarter note, and then six eighth notes. One, two, ready, go.

So you can really come up with as many different combinations as you want, right. So really, it’s just utilizing your own imagination. Okay, so I gave you some combinations right there for you to try. So try messing around with those. And then you can, you know, alter them around as well. Now, this is the goal, this is really where you want to get to is you want to be able to play that steady, left hand half note, right. And then the right hand, move between quarter notes or eighth notes, just at random. All right, so you just kind of like move to a quarter note or an eighth note whenever you want to. But it has to stay steady. Remember, with all of this, the left hand needs to be steady. If the left hand is not steady, then all is lost. Okay, you have to have the left hand, stay steady, right. So one of the news, I’m going to start with that nice steady left hand. Now make sure that you don’t start too fast with that left hand.

Because if this is your half notes,

right, right, I mean, your eighth notes are gonna start to get really fast, okay, so make sure that the left hand, when you start, it’s just doo,

doo, boo,

nice and slow, then bring in your quarters.

Move back to Florida. Water.

See, I can also add some rest

in the right hand.

So in the right hand, I am either playing a quarter note, or an eighth note. And again, as a reminder, I’m playing these notes on the piano. But really, I could be tapping this just as easily, you might not be able to hear it. But if you watch the replay, so if I start with that left hand nice and steady, right? I can add the right hand.

Okay, so you can kind of hear that I’m, I’m basically tapping on the on the keyboard here. And the idea that I’m going for and the reason that I’m doing this is that I want the physical act of moving my fingers. Now you might question Okay, wait a second, Willie. Does this mean that when I play this, I should really be playing that baseline kind of like on a desk or something so like pinky than middle finger than second finger than thumb in the left hand, or can I just like just like, smash down my hand? Of course, don’t smash so you don’t hurt yourself, but can I just tap my whole left hand or do I have to go each finger, it’s fine to just do your entire hand right? You do not have to play each individual finger. It’s not like you’re trying to recreate that baseline. Now, there are some advantages advantages to doing that. So if you were like on a plane or a desk or whatnot, and you wanted to like kind of practice that, sure that there would be some advantages to doing that. But for this exercise, you could just play the left hand, right hand without any individual finger interaction, okay, so just like the whole hand is clapping. Alright, so left hand is playing that steady half note, the right hand is alternating between quarter notes and eighth notes. And you notice how I also added in some rest in there as well. Now one thing that I have not done is I have not done any up beats, I have not incorporated any aithris. So that’s

something else that I can

do if I start to incorporate a threat, and upbeats. Now listen to some of the cool rhythms I can start to get started my left hand nice and steady.

Did you hear the triplet in there? For those of you that are wondering, can I put triplets in Sure, absolutely. If you want to play a triplet, go ahead and play a triplet, there’s nothing wrong with that. Do the rhythms that you feel comfortable with first. The idea again, is it has to be steady. If it is not steady, then go back to a rhythm that you find easier. Okay,

so now the question you might have is,

Alright, fine. I’ve tapped this half note in the left hand, and I’ve tapped quarter notes and eighth notes in the right hand and even threw in some rest and some upbeats. How does that really help me when I sit down to improvise? Alright, this is how it helps you. Remember, improvisation is basically three elements put together, it’s your accompaniment, it’s your notes and your ingredients. And it’s your rhythm. Okay, so we take a rhythm, we apply some notes to it, we play it over and accompaniment, and that’s our basic improvisation. Of course, there are other elements to improvisation. But at least if we get started with those first three, it gives us you know, a basic sounding improvisation that we can work off of, it gives us our foundation. So now, remember, rhythm is such a big part of it. And not only is rhythm a big part of it, playing the rhythms effectively hands together is a big part of it. I could tell you, in my own playing this technique, I used to do this all the time. And it helped my playing immensely. Because now I was practicing the physical act of getting my hands doing something rhythmically together without having to be at the piano. Because guess what, when you’re at the piano, you’re gonna want to play notes, you’re not just gonna want to sit there and play, you know, two notes here, right, you’re gonna want to do something. So the idea is that if you practice this technique, enough away from the piano, when you actually sit down at the piano, and you have your five finger minor scale, and you have your baseline down here, right,

then it’s going to be a lot easier for you to go.

It’s gonna be a lot easier for you to do that, because you will have already practiced the physical act of putting the hands together rhythmically. So now, your endless improvisation lines is really, your endless rhythms. Come up with as many different rhythms as you can, the more rhythms that you come up with, right, the more rhythms that you practice, the more lines that you’re going to be able to create. Right. So really cool technique. I hope you got a lot out of it. And if you do like it, please be sure to review the the podcasts for me. If you have questions. Remember, every Thursday at 1pm Eastern, I am doing a live training session for the confident improviser students and of course if you’d like to become a member of jazz edge, just go back to jazz edge COMM And you can get the confident improviser course right within the membership. That’s it for me. I’ll see you guys in the next episode.

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Willie Myette

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