tips on improvising

daredrummer

Gold Member
Just listen, listen, listen.
All genres, not just ones you like or want to play. This is the best way to get new ideas and build off of other people's ideas.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
This suggestion depends entirely on where you are right now in your development, but here is something to try if you are a relatively new improviser. Using Ted Reed's book "Syncopation", play exercise #1 but every fourth bar try to improvise a rhythm. Initially I would recommend playing simple ideas (even just quarter notes) on the snare drum. Keep your bass drum/time going, and don't forget to keep on going to the next line without stopping.

This is a very restricted kind of improvisation, but sometimes when you are just starting something it is a good idea to restrict your options to make things less intimidating. Try thinking of your improvisation as a response to the rhythm of the first three measures. And once you feel like this is comfortable go on to some of the later exercises that use increasingly dense subdivisions (eighths, triplets, sixteenths) and use the same process.

Remember that all improvisation is essentially a response to music, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Also as the previous poster commented, the more listening and emulating you are doing the better. This process builds up the vocabulary that you can draw on when you are improvising.

Hope this helps.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I like Benny Greb's idea of playing a one (or two) bar phrase and then repeating that phrase exactly the following bar, then forcing a new idea into it the bar after that, and repeating that one just as before - ad infinitum.

| idea #1 | idea #1 again | idea #2 | idea #2 again | ... and so on.

That's really a brilliant idea because it forces you to think on the fly, not only on continuously morphing a part, but also on not being so random that you can't repeat it. It's fun to do when you push it to the edge of your ability.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
One thing I like to keep in mind is that a good improv section almost always has an anchor. There needs to be some relation to the original beat, melody, or musical theme. It works in a similar way for drum solos. If the drummer goes off on weird tangents, even though they may be in time and technically proficient, it gives a dis-jointed feeling to the part.

Beyond that, for me, it was about learning to think ahead of not only the beat, but the music. As an easy example, most music has repeating phrases in it. As I'm playing one beat for a particular part or phrase, I'm constantly thinking of what the next part will sound like so that by the time it comes along, I'm ready with something I already think sounds cool. Whenever I get into a situation where I'm deciding each part of the beat right before I play it is when I feel the most likely to make mistakes...

Are you playing with an improv music/jam group?
 

watalife66

Junior Member
Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful advice! I will work on them. I guess I meant how to come up with cool fills when there is space.
 

watalife66

Junior Member
I like Benny Greb's idea of playing a one (or two) bar phrase and then repeating that phrase exactly the following bar, then forcing a new idea into it the bar after that, and repeating that one just as before - ad infinitum.

| idea #1 | idea #1 again | idea #2 | idea #2 again | ... and so on.

That's really a brilliant idea because it forces you to think on the fly, not only on continuously morphing a part, but also on not being so random that you can't repeat it. It's fun to do when you push it to the edge of your ability.
that's a great tip! I often forget what I played. But my problem is I tend to repeat the same phrase every single time I play. Any tips on that?
 

watalife66

Junior Member
One thing I like to keep in mind is that a good improv section almost always has an anchor. There needs to be some relation to the original beat, melody, or musical theme. It works in a similar way for drum solos. If the drummer goes off on weird tangents, even though they may be in time and technically proficient, it gives a dis-jointed feeling to the part.

Beyond that, for me, it was about learning to think ahead of not only the beat, but the music. As an easy example, most music has repeating phrases in it. As I'm playing one beat for a particular part or phrase, I'm constantly thinking of what the next part will sound like so that by the time it comes along, I'm ready with something I already think sounds cool. Whenever I get into a situation where I'm deciding each part of the beat right before I play it is when I feel the most likely to make mistakes...

Are you playing with an improv music/jam group?

Thanks for the tip! I'm playing with a band and in need of ideas for fills.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Can you give me some examples of music that are good for transcribing? are there any good books out there for reading?
For reading I would check out "Syncopation" by Ted Reed. If you scroll down a couple of responses I also have an improvisation exercise that works really well in conjunction with that book.
 

whoreian

Senior Member
one way is to take smth like a drum beat of fill that you know,keep playing that over and over again then start to change it a little by thinking in your head how things could sound the way you want it to at the same time.
one way to practice creating what you hear in your head and want to play is to just sing or play a drumbeat from either a song or your imagination,anything that comes to mind.
also,play to a song you know well and just change up the drums a little.a little goes a long way!
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I like Benny Greb's idea of playing a one (or two) bar phrase and then repeating that phrase exactly the following bar, then forcing a new idea into it the bar after that, and repeating that one just as before - ad infinitum.

| idea #1 | idea #1 again | idea #2 | idea #2 again | ... and so on.

That's really a brilliant idea because it forces you to think on the fly, not only on continuously morphing a part, but also on not being so random that you can't repeat it. It's fun to do when you push it to the edge of your ability.
that's a great tip! I often forget what I played. But my problem is I tend to repeat the same phrase every single time I play. Any tips on that?
Use your imagination, try to be creative or move the phrasing across the kit.....

Here's a link to BG improvisation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XI2aHSBTnU
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
1. Learn the melodies and chord changes of the songs you're playing. Sing them to yourself while you're improvising. Better yet, try to play the melody, or just the rhythm of the melody.

2. To develop vocabulary, practice singing your ideas out loud, then work out the sounds/stickings on your kit.

3. Be clever: take one simple idea and see how many ways you can play it. Different sounds, faster/slower, beginning on different beats in the bar. This way, you don't need to develop new technique to play new stuff. How much music can you get out of two notes?

4. Openly steal great players' ideas. Play them until they become your own. Imitate => Assimilate => Innovate.

5. If you play a bum note, play it again, people will think you meant it.
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
The only way to learn how to improvise is by practing it no matter how jumbled and out of time your playing becomes.

Start simply by trading between 4 measures of basic time and 4 measures of improvised fills/figures or what ever. dont play the same thing more than once!! do this untill your arms fall off or untill you fall asleep then repeat the next day. When u are REALLY comfortable with 4 measures - like "wow how did I fit that awsome thing into 4 measures", comfortable - which u will be eventually. Bump it up to trading 8's then 16 bars. Once you can rip in, out, and all on top of 16 bars then u should look into solo form, themes, improvised rhythm ect. If you can't play hard bodied through 16 bars then improvising musically is not happening.

Hope this helped,
 
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