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Thread: How to Improve Improvisation?

  1. #1

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    Default How to Improve Improvisation?

    Hi there,
    I've been playing for 5 years since I was about 8. All that time, I've focused on sight reading and getting grades out of the way, but I've never really looked at improvisation or developing a fill/solo. Are there any exercises anyone would recommend to get better at this?

    Thanks,

    Taras.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Well... two things. You aren't going to learn improv by reading a book, but you will learn and expand your capabilities from reading a book. The more you know, the more you can express yourself on the drumset.

    My point is... to become better at improv, you must increase your overall ability to play so you don't just continually reuse the same things you already know.

    Can you give us some idea of what books you have now? What do you regularly practice? etc.
    Too Much Stuff.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpatzST View Post
    Well... two things. You aren't going to learn improv by reading a book, but you will learn and expand your capabilities from reading a book. The more you know, the more you can express yourself on the drumset.

    My point is... to become better at improv, you must increase your overall ability to play so you don't just continually reuse the same things you already know.

    Can you give us some idea of what books you have now? What do you regularly practice? etc.

    With due respects to Spatz, from everything I have seen (heard) over 6 decades of playing, there are things that can be taught and things that cannot be taught.

    1 is improvising and 2 is jazz.

    I know there are a thousand books out there that say they can teach you anything from improve to jazz..........................................pure BS.

    Improv is something that you create that is unique to you to fit a certain piece of music. Jazz and improvisation basically go hand in hand as 1 is part of the other.

    Get a couple of books on jazz/improve, then go find some true jazz musicians, ask to sit in, and you will find out how little the books taught you on all the subtle little things that take place in jazz.

    I used to go to jam sessions mainly in NYC where, if you got to sit in, some sax player that you never played with before, had a riff in mind and would come over to me (if I was the 1 playing) and snap his fingers and say "give me this" walk away, and you were on your own.

    Some players would tell you that they liked a lot of drums, and others would tell you that they didn't want much drums at all and you would have to figure if you should hit a fill at a certain spot or leave it alone and just do a little comping.

    These things you learn by doing. You really can't get it from a book.

  4. #4

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    I have all the Rockschool grade books, a DPA Buddy Rich Vol. 35 book, and not much else. Now I think of it, all these years I've really only done grade stuff. Perhaps I should just sit down and play to the top 40.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Improvisation is what the music makes you want to do, where your part of the creation fits in... you must always remember that you're supporting the melody, supporting the guitar solo etc..you have to know what your job is as a drummer, pick your spots, and from there all that rudiment stuff pays off, you just create your version of the song. Perhaps improv is created by failure. for example, by playing along to cover songs in the beginning of one's drumming experience, ya can't really play the song the way, INSERT AWESOME DRUMMER NAME HERE, plays, but you learn to do something that fits into the song, plays to it, and even though its not true to every fill in the song, its your improv, right?
    Find people to play with, maybe an originals project, ya sure get to try stuff in an originals band, its really the coolest...
    ok thats it for me, longest post ever....

  6. #6

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    With due respects to Spatz, from everything I have seen (heard) over 6 decades of playing, there are things that can be taught and things that cannot be taught.

    1 is improvising and 2 is jazz.

    I know there are a thousand books out there that say they can teach you anything from improve to jazz..........................................pure BS.

    Improv is something that you create that is unique to you to fit a certain piece of music. Jazz and improvisation basically go hand in hand as 1 is part of the other.

    Get a couple of books on jazz/improve, then go find some true jazz musicians, ask to sit in, and you will find out how little the books taught you on all the subtle little things that take place in jazz.

    I used to go to jam sessions mainly in NYC where, if you got to sit in, some sax player that you never played with before, had a riff in mind and would come over to me (if I was the 1 playing) and snap his fingers and say "give me this" walk away, and you were on your own.

    Some players would tell you that they liked a lot of drums, and others would tell you that they didn't want much drums at all and you would have to figure if you should hit a fill at a certain spot or leave it alone and just do a little comping.

    These things you learn by doing. You really can't get it from a book.
    not disagreeing.. just saying you are more capable of improv'ing when you have a larger vocabulary to choose from. Vocabulary being different licks, patterns, rolls, etc. And of course, some of the best stuff you can learn is from other players. I'm not saying 'Learn jazz" or "learn improv". I'm just saying to be better at either of them, expand your abilities first. It's harder to make up something on the spot when all you know how to do is a paradiddle. But if you know paradiddles, 7 stroke rolls, doubles, singles, ratamacue, buzz rolls, etc... you can be a little more creative once you open your mind to the possibilities.
    Last edited by SpatzST; 10-25-2016 at 11:09 PM.
    Too Much Stuff.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpatzST View Post
    not disagreeing.. just saying you are more capable of improv'ing when you have a larger vocabulary to choose from. Vocabulary being different licks, patterns, rolls, etc. And of course, some of the best stuff you can learn is from other players. I'm not saying 'Learn jazz" or "learn improv". I'm just saying to be better at either of them, expand your abilities first. It's harder to make up something on the spot when all you know how to do is a paradiddle. But if you know paradiddles, 7 stroke rolls, doubles, singles, ratamacue, buzz rolls, etc... you can be a little more creative once you open your mind to the possibilities.

    While I agree with virtually everything that you said, what you are doing (paradiddles, doubles, ratamacue's) is basically giving someone the pieces of a puzzle. They still have to put the pieces in the right place.

    So the larger your vocabulary the more you can do. If you can only read single syllable words, you can't read a book. If you can read 2 syllable words, you are up to D i c k and Jane. If you are at 4, 5 & 6 syllable words, now you can read anything from the Bible to War and Peace, BUT, it still doesn't mean that you could write a book.

    Bad analogy, but I know you get what I mean.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Thanks guys, I'll play around with some rudiments and see where I go from there.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    While I agree with virtually everything that you said, what you are doing (paradiddles, doubles, ratamacue's) is basically giving someone the pieces of a puzzle. They still have to put the pieces in the right place.

    So the larger your vocabulary the more you can do. If you can only read single syllable words, you can't read a book. If you can read 2 syllable words, you are up to D i c k and Jane. If you are at 4, 5 & 6 syllable words, now you can read anything from the Bible to War and Peace, BUT, it still doesn't mean that you could write a book.

    Bad analogy, but I know you get what I mean.
    gotta start somewhere though. perhaps with the right tools he can write a book. I mean, the people who ARE good at improv, your jazz guys for instance, would you say the first time they sat at the kit they were naturally amazing at improv, or would you say they spent years and years learning drumming vocabulary, picking up things from other drummers, sitting in every weekend at the club, etc. Now they can apply all they have learned to the drumset creatively, in their own way.

    I think I see where our difference of opinion is. I'm talking about physical ability to play improv and be creative, you're talking about mental ability to feel improv.
    Too Much Stuff.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    To me improvisation is playing what you feel.

    That can't be taught and it should come naturally.

    Just don't let it affect your timing.
    Signature here

  11. #11

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    Default Re: How to Improve Improvisation?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpatzST View Post
    gotta start somewhere though. perhaps with the right tools he can write a book. I mean, the people who ARE good at improv, your jazz guys for instance, would you say the first time they sat at the kit they were naturally amazing at improv, or would you say they spent years and years learning drumming vocabulary, picking up things from other drummers, sitting in every weekend at the club, etc. Now they can apply all they have learned to the drumset creatively, in their own way.

    I think I see where our difference of opinion is. I'm talking about physical ability to play improv and be creative, you're talking about mental ability to feel improv.

    Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree.

    This topic will come up again like "which heads do I use to get this sound". It's inevitable. So, to be continued at a later date.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    While I agree with virtually everything that you said, what you are doing (paradiddles, doubles, ratamacue's) is basically giving someone the pieces of a puzzle. They still have to put the pieces in the right place.

    So the larger your vocabulary the more you can do. If you can only read single syllable words, you can't read a book. If you can read 2 syllable words, you are up to D i c k and Jane. If you are at 4, 5 & 6 syllable words, now you can read anything from the Bible to War and Peace, BUT, it still doesn't mean that you could write a book.

    Bad analogy, but I know you get what I mean.
    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree.

    This topic will come up again like "which heads do I use to get this sound". It's inevitable. So, to be continued at a later date.
    haha fair enough
    Too Much Stuff.

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