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Home Alt Forums Music Theory Using repetition and motion in our Improvising

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    Michael Bishop

      Hi Johnny,
      In applying your points at my recent go with the Green Onions to use less in our Improvising means we can say more, my wife shared with me these 2 videos as a lesson that she thinks would help. One of them is a piece of Orchestra music and another is just with the Piano.
      In the first video, she wanted to emphasize with me how using repetition of certain licks/riffs help to make my Improvising “familiar, comfortable”. The way she put it is that a listener expects to hear some repetition. I set the timer right before the specific melody that she was using as a lesson for me, lasts only a few seconds. She’s also highlighted how there’s a tension that was created in the first few measures that was resolved in the following measures in that particular part of the melody.
      One the 2nd video of Bach’s Minuet in G, she wanted to bring out with me how the first half of the melody has an upward motion and the 2nd half uses a downward motion bring me back where I started. She says that not every single note in the 2nd video go up/down, but the she talked about a “general flow” that moves in those direction.
      Even though this is obviously a very different style of music, she wanted to use those particular points as something that I can apply with my own Improvising with the Saxophone. What are your thoughts on the matter? Thanks for your insights!


        a lot of young singers when they start out have a similar problem,
        the phrase “More is Less” is something that takes them some time to take on board!


          lol – should have said “Less is More”


            wow – i remember one of my friends 15 yr old daughter playing bach’s minuet when she was doing grade 8 piano – she played it a lot faster than that!

            Michael – you’re getting into the world of composition when you listen to these pieces! Its a crazy world in classical music!
            Lots of this classical stuff has
            rules in how it is written – just like 12 bar blues…

            Wish i could be more helpful!

            I think the main thing is not to clutter up music with too many notes – it creates a feeling of chaos/panic – you create that feeling in the minds of the listener – Its ok to do that if that is the effect you want to create. A lot of blow you brains out music borders on this – which is ok if thats what the listener is expecting & likes that sort of

            Honestly Michael – your playing sounds very well to me! Your tones good, you can hit all the notes, your altissimo is good! Range & recall of songs without a song sheet is good – i would rate you grade 5 on the sax – you would fly through that in an exam!

            Take stock man! Theres nothing wrong with your playing – i think its mainly the composition of what you are playing just needs tidying up!

            Keep plugging at it – hope to catch you up in the altissimo department one day!

            Michael Bishop

              Wow, thanks for the encouragement JB 🙂 I still make many mistakes and obviously have a LONG way to go, and I will make many more mistakes but it’s about learning. Right now, my Tenor Sax MP is getting some minor adjusting/tweaking per my request, so the upload I do next week will be on a Claude Lakey MP. I’ve been using it for a few days and for what it is it’s perfect for certain kinds of music. There’s an Alto/Tenor duet that I’m working and where I’ll use Claude Lakey MPs on both the Alto and Tenor. I tend to like the Claude Lakey MUCH better on the Alto than I do the Tenor. Details to come so stay tuned LOL

              My wife isn’t trying to get me into the world of composition or anything, but there are certain techniques/melodic ideas that you can pick up is what she was wanting to convey to me. And As Johnny mentions in is Intro. to Killer Blues, which can be quite surprising, there is actually a Blue’s lesson in Beethoven’s 5th with the intro riffs! Yes–it’s true. He developed a very simply 2-note riff. The point being is that we can, and should, use riffs with an interval of a 5th or even a 3rd because, as Johnny explains, that’s how Beethoven did it. Once we have established the main riff, then we can continue to play with it, expand on it, etc.. So yes….there is something to learn from those specific points in the videos I attached that my wife shared with me…sometimes we learn these things from the most unlikely source. Yes, just like you said not to “clutter” up too many notes and when you listen to those riffs/licks in Dvorak’s video, you hear him using them very well v.s. cluttered, as well as the repetition of those licks. There’s tension created in the first few measures and the riffs are repeated and the tension relieved in the next few measures is what my wife was highlighting to me. I set the timer on the particular part that my wife was sharing with me right before the measures/riffs she’s highlighting to me. Listen carefully to what Dvorak did in those riffs…good lesson.

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