Saturday, May 16, 2009

Improvising Kit Bag

Improvising's a controversial subject so I'll try not to make too many generalizations about it, but from what I've seen - especially when forced to put together a break on the spot for a fast tune - instead of hand-crafting a beautifully nuanced brand new composition right there and then, most folks, even pros, just follow the tune as best they can, and then copy and paste in their favorite licks for kickoffs and endings.

Usually the place they do this most obviously is in the joins - by that I mean the places half way through the verse and at the end of the verse, at the end of the vocal line. Often there is no clue what to play here from the melody, since it's where the singer pauses for breath. Mostly it's where either there's 2 bars of the V chord resolving to the I, or else one bar of I, and one of V, then back to I.

So, you need some licks prepared for these situations. Not only that, but if you have some fancy licks to insert here, in my view it makes it easier to be faithful to the melody in the other parts of your break. The reason is, you're not under any pressure to make up something impressive on the spur of the moment, because you have something up your sleeve, like the best magicians.

In my next few posts I'll be showing you some of the goodies I'm working on for my kit bag. The good news is, just about every mandolin break you ever hear can give you ideas to expand your bag, so you don't have to rely on me - you can rip them off from everybody.

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