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      Working with Johnny’s improvisation course. Lesson 1. G Dominant 7th scale: G,A.B.C.D.E.F natural.G. How do I make a riff that makes sense. To start off I need simple riffs to copy so later on i can make my own riffs


        Making some progress. Using 5 notes G B C D. Also using the pentatonic G Scale. G A B D E. All within the G Dominant 7th


          The most important approach to improvising – this applies before you start going down the improvisation route, it’s a simple technique to learn and stick with it for the rest of your life.

          It’s not my idea, but it’s a tried and tested approach.

          See – the musical scale in your mind (mentally visualise it)
          Hear – the musical scale in your mind (mentally imagine hearing it)
          Play – the musical scale on your sax

          See – Hear – Play this applies to modes, chords, intervals etc

          If you start working with say the G major scale.
          See it in your minds eye (G A B C D E F# G)
          Hear in your mind the letters you just visualised
          Play the sax what you just visualised

          Repeat this process, but go up and down the scale mentally visually imagine hearing it and play it.

          Repeat the process for modes in the G major scale.

          Repeat the process for the G major Chord (G B D F#)

          What this does is training you to imagine seeing some notes in your head and at the same time imagine hearing those notes you’ve visualised and finally playing them on the sax. So later on when you play a backing track you can automatically play what you imagine in your mind.

          ex see a Riff, Hear the Riff, finally play the Riff

          It also helps if you can hum what you visualise.

          You can practice without a sax.
          hold a ruler in both hands, imagine the ruler is your sax, use the same finger positions as on the sax , play the ruler like a sax, but imagine hearing the exact note you play on the ruler.

          It’s quite natural to listen to a backing track, and hum or imagine in your head along to the track, and then pick up the sax and play what you’ve heard that sounds nice in your head. This is more creative than putting on the backing track and picking up the sax straight away and then trying to find and play along some sax notes that sound good


            Sweet advice sxpoet and thanking you ever so much, old bean. Jolly good show!
            Spiffing hey what! Ya



              You will come across music book backing tracks and music teachers in lessons with a learner that will practice the “Call” and “Answer” technique.

              The teacher or backing track plays a riff in the 1st bar, then the student answers by playing a riff in the second bar. If you ignored what the teacher just played and just played anything on the sax in the second bar – it wouldn’t make sense to you what you just played.

              However if you listen to what the teacher just played you can train your mind to follow on from what the teacher played in your mind and in split seconds play back what you just imagined in your mind.

              If someone stops mid sentence, you can imagine what they are going to say afterwards similarly if they speak a sentence or ask a question you can imagine what the next sentence might play out.

              The call and answer process is worth using with improvisation.

              The 1st time you try out a call and repeat backing track, just listen to the call being played and visually imagine in your head what you might play back in your head. Run through the backing track several times to get a clearer imagination [practice the See Hear] then play along to the track later on.

              After a few days you can start with a new track and instantly hear and play in response without having to listen to the track several times.

              Common sense is also applied in bands and orchestras, you very rarely hear an improvised solo played at the start, it’s usually played somewhere in the middle – ie the solo player is responding to what he’s heard played in the band, If the band opened with a solo player, then what follows has to be related to what the band plays and vice versa.
              This forces you to see/hear and play.

              good luck – improvisation is a long and winding road, you never stop learning


                today i had a look at lesson 1 and watched the video.

                i know what notes makes up the G major scale (G A B C D E F# G)

                I kept the sax in its case.

                i did the “See” part 1st, i visually imagined in my head where all the notes of the G major scale are on my sax in terms of the finger positions going up the scale and down the scale, i also moved my fingers as if i was physically playing the notes on the sax.

                Then i did the “Hear” part 2nd, where i visually imaged in my head the finger positions for each note and also at the same time imagined hearing each note being played in my head – going up and down the scale.

                Then i got the sax out and played up and down the G major scale in response to what i imagined seeing and hearing in my head.

                Then i played Johnny’s loop and played up and down the scale on my sax.

                I put the sax down,

                did the “See” part for all the modes in G major, so i visually imagined the finger positions for all the modes going up and down them
                next i did the “Hear” part and imagined the notes sounds for each imaginary finger position.
                finally i picked up the sax, played the loop and played on my sax what i had imagined in my head visually and aurally.

                i don’t have a tenor, so i did it all in D major on my alto.


                  that’s a GREAT routine sx!!



                    i found when you’ve done a music course, if you come back to the course months or years later and run through it again, it’s just like rewatching a film – the second time round you notice a lot of minute detail you missed. The reason why is because you know whats coming next your mind is now free to focus on other things thats going on in the scene.

                    It’s the same thing with rereading a book. There’s no end of times we’ve watched a film and we cant even remember how it started, then 10 minutes later – we’ve seen this before. There are certain things that stick out that we remember – and in music that is the root note of a scale. You can listen to a tune and still not know what scale it is in, but you can feel what note it comes to rest on if you hum it in your head – that should be a root note.

                    The reason why it easy to pick out the root note is because scales always go up and come back down to rest on the starting note, you can hear the sound rising and falling.

                    Modes took me a while to understand why we have them. To me modes are like speaking in different languages within the same scale.
                    mode 1 – you speak your home language
                    mode 2 – you speak to Dutch people in Dorian
                    mode 3 – you speak to French people in Phrygian
                    mode 4 – you speak to Latin people in Lydian
                    mode 5 – you speak to Mexican people in Mixolydian
                    Just like scales modes also come to rest on the starting note of the mode.

                    So if you hum a tune that is in C major and you feel it comes to rest on the “D” note instead of the “C” note then you’ve realised it’s a Dorian mode.

                    So watch out, a resting note could be a scale or a mode within a scale.
                    When you get to that stage of feeling the starting notes, then and only then you can play a music sheet scale and automatically realise what mode the scale is in.

                    the importance of See Hear Play


                      mode 6 – you speak to Aliens in aeolian
                      mode 7 – you speak to Locals in locrian

                      example of songs to listen to in different modes,

                      Happy Birthday 1
                      What shall we do with the drunken sailor 2
                      Remember Tomorrow 3
                      Giant Balls of Gold 4
                      You really got me 5
                      God rest ye merry gentlemen 6
                      Army of me 7

                      i’ll spend another week on lesson 1. You can’t rush these things!


                        Thanks SXPoet for the info. Today I’ll be working with Johnny on Modes and rhythm, What Does It Take for that drunken sailor to play it right. Am7, Gmaj7 and here we go loop de loop

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