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> Learning To Improvize, using different ways of pairing questions and responses
Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 14 2014, 11:49 PM
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First, thanks Aris for this cool topic. Not only are we covering some very interesting ground but you also lured Ken into recording a splendid solo =)

These methods of breaking down solo construction are basically just tools, and you can probably come up with your own way of visualizing solos - and thereby creating tools customized for you.

The important part is to not only break down what you are hearing (ie learn solos note for note) but try to understand why a phrase sounds the way it does: Was it really spectacular note choice that made that lick stand out, or was it because it was played aggressively after a super smooth lick, and this created a cool musical contrast?

There are no definite answers so what matters are your personal conclusions which you have reached as a result of your own analysis.

I have a bunch of such conclusions that I use when creating music (such as this question and response technique) - and some of them are very silly and would be very hard to explain to someone else, but they seem to do the job.

QUOTE (Aris @ Nov 14 2014, 11:07 PM) *
Some melodies are clearer for me to interpret, other melodies such as Klasaine's (which is also really cool - melodic and still intense) is not so easy to understand if I m listening to the response or the question.


Like Ken said, pauses are good indicators of this. Pauses are also a very fast way to bump up the level of musicality in your improvisations - they force us to define the phrases better and give important breathing room to the music.

QUOTE (Aris @ Nov 14 2014, 11:07 PM) *
I guess the notes outside the scale should be at 00:05, 00:13, 00:32. Is this true?


This is spot on, although 00:32 is probably my bending/vibrato which should have been a bit more in tune..!

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If you (Aris) or anyone else wants to have a go at this, I would suggest the following:

To achieve the question and answer effect - play one lick, pause for a second or two, then play another lick which sounds very different from the first one, and then pause again. Then play a lick which is similar to first one, pause - and then play another lick which is similar to the second one.

You can use the E minor pentatonic scale over Aris' track:



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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 15 2014, 05:55 PM
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QUOTE (Aris @ Nov 14 2014, 11:15 AM) *
Hi Cosmin,

Yes I' m pretty drunk for sure! never doubted it tongue.gif For sure having your details also help me draw the picture even more.
Yes, finding a new place for my gear is interesting and challenging. But I will work something out.

I 'll let you know how it goes after I do this for a while.

Thanks again my friend! smile.gif


Nothing to it, mate - looking forward to hearing your impressions after trying the new approach. Thank you for sharing the backing with us, as well!


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Aris
post Nov 17 2014, 02:07 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Nov 15 2014, 04:55 PM) *
Nothing to it, mate - looking forward to hearing your impressions after trying the new approach. Thank you for sharing the backing with us, as well!


Hi Guys,

Of course the topic was originally Gabriel's idea and I'm really excited about it too.

Both Kristofer's and Ken's analysis is being really helpful.
With Ken's analysis I can now listen to the different phrases and distinct which is the idea or the development. It is also very clear that both idea-development pairs are played over the same chord.

Also with Kristofer's breakdown on the approach he followed for questions-responses, I have all I need to make my own solo using the same question response concept and I'm currently working on finding some interesting phrases for it.

Both of you guys have helped me see there are different approaches (statement-response & idea-development) and also understand the difference in the results. I even tried to play based on the two different concepts and I can see that the results are indeed very different depending on the approach followed and it's becoming very interesting. Unfortunately, I first need to properly play my ideas over the backing track before I can send you the two different examples I have.








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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 18 2014, 12:16 PM
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Hey mate - great to hear this analysis paid off - Kris and Ken sure did a great job. Now, as you noticed, you need to focus on polishing your technique, in order to really make your ideas shine. I think that a healthy approach to this, would be to try the concepts by using simple phrases that you can control and working on expression, rather then complexity or speed.

In the mean time, look at the lessons that you have been practicing so far and take out the phrases which you like most. Adapt them to the backing track on which you choose to improvise, by transposing them to that certain key and see how you can alter them, in order to maintain the ideas in the concepts smile.gif This is one approach that will not only enrich your vocabulary, but also grow your skills. The ones that feel difficult to execute - try to slow them down and practice them against the metronome, paying attention to timing, expression, groove and clean playing.


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Aris
post Nov 18 2014, 01:34 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Nov 18 2014, 11:16 AM) *
Hey mate - great to hear this analysis paid off - Kris and Ken sure did a great job. Now, as you noticed, you need to focus on polishing your technique, in order to really make your ideas shine. I think that a healthy approach to this, would be to try the concepts by using simple phrases that you can control and working on expression, rather then complexity or speed.

In the mean time, look at the lessons that you have been practicing so far and take out the phrases which you like most. Adapt them to the backing track on which you choose to improvise, by transposing them to that certain key and see how you can alter them, in order to maintain the ideas in the concepts smile.gif This is one approach that will not only enrich your vocabulary, but also grow your skills. The ones that feel difficult to execute - try to slow them down and practice them against the metronome, paying attention to timing, expression, groove and clean playing.


Hi Cosmin,

Thanks so much for this tip, I really needed it today since I didn't know where to start. It was really frustrating last night while I was trying to follow Kristofer's recipe with repeating questions. I struggle too much in finding a distinct melody for using it as a signature and repeat it with small variations. I tend to mess up every phrase so that it ends up sounding as a completely different phrase every time I try to repeat it.

I have learned some different licks in the past but I have complete lack of sense on how to use a lick when the backing track environment is different. I will follow your suggestion to copy some licks from the lessons (or other ones I like) and transpose them in the same key as the backing track.
However, this is not so easy for me to visualize so I 'll try forcing it for a start. I hope something will come out this time or else.....I 'll do some stage diving instead tongue.gif

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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 19 2014, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (Aris @ Nov 18 2014, 12:34 PM) *
Hi Cosmin,

Thanks so much for this tip, I really needed it today since I didn't know where to start. It was really frustrating last night while I was trying to follow Kristofer's recipe with repeating questions. I struggle too much in finding a distinct melody for using it as a signature and repeat it with small variations. I tend to mess up every phrase so that it ends up sounding as a completely different phrase every time I try to repeat it.

I have learned some different licks in the past but I have complete lack of sense on how to use a lick when the backing track environment is different. I will follow your suggestion to copy some licks from the lessons (or other ones I like) and transpose them in the same key as the backing track.
However, this is not so easy for me to visualize so I 'll try forcing it for a start. I hope something will come out this time or else.....I 'll do some stage diving instead tongue.gif


Nothing to it man - glad I could help wink.gif Now... why not do both? Stage diving is awesomee - I tried it once or twice laugh.gif Well, you have to start somewhere, so c'mon - start with your favorite lick in the lessons you have learned here so far and post an idea based on that - deal? wink.gif


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Aris
post Nov 22 2014, 11:07 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Nov 19 2014, 09:45 AM) *
Nothing to it man - glad I could help wink.gif Now... why not do both? Stage diving is awesomee - I tried it once or twice laugh.gif Well, you have to start somewhere, so c'mon - start with your favorite lick in the lessons you have learned here so far and post an idea based on that - deal? wink.gif


Hi all,

Finally!!!! I recorded a sample based on Kristopher's guidelines using (maybe too many) licks from the lessons.

I'm sorry for the sound. Cubase would let me export an audio file only using MONO (not stereo) and this took away much of the edge of the guitar. This is the best take after hours trying it. Still has bending and timing issues but the idea should be present.

Below is a breakdown of the idea:
----------------------------------------
The second question appears at 00:004 much similar to the first
The third question appears at 00:008 (similar to the other two) where it is repeated three times
The last question is totally different just to add some variety at 00:14

I used licks from lessons: tasty etude, guitar loves piano, social distortion style lesson and a couple of parts from The clash - brand new cadillac.

What do you think?

Attached File(s)
Attached File  repeated_similar_questions1.mp3 ( 937.17K ) Number of downloads: 33
 
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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 22 2014, 09:23 PM
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Hey matey - glad to see that you are following the suggestions!

I think the idea is good as a principle but there are three important aspects which you should take into account:

- there are indeed too many licks included and they sound crowded together - try to space them up a bit, even if that means using less licks - you can use 2-3 of them but in a shortened version, with enough notes to make a statement
- the timing and articulation are very important so please make sure that whatever final form these phrases will have, you will spend some time in making them sound as good as possible in respect to timing, bending and vibrato smile.gif


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 23 2014, 12:07 AM
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QUOTE (Aris @ Nov 22 2014, 11:07 AM) *
Finally!!!! I recorded a sample based on Kristopher's guidelines using (maybe too many) licks from the lessons.


Awesome Aris, great to get a follow up on this.

I am pretty much on the same page as you and Cosmin - there is a little too much of the good stuff here. To your defense I must say my take was a bit "crowded" as well, so I can understand where this came from.

Could you record a new take and try the following?

1) Let the backing play few seconds beats before you start playing. This will establish the scenery and the listener will hear everything you play after this in relation to the backing track. Also, by introducing the routine to first listen to the backing track before you start your playing, you will start developing a sense for musical interaction. If you just start playing imediately you will not communicate with the other instruments [virtual, in this case].

2) Then play two/three notes, and then pause (you can let the last note ring if you want to). Vibrato and bending is your friend here. By restraining yourself to just a few notes you will force yourself, to choose the notes that you think sound best (great ear training). This will also turn your lines more narrative and melodic.

3) Pause again for at least a few seconds/beats. By repeating the play/pause procedure you will work on your timing (ie ending and beginning your phrases on time), and in the long run it will turn your phrases into better defined musical statements - as opposed to just long combinations of patterns.

4) Repeat #2, but add just a slight extra twist at the end. This could be 2-4 faster notes, or just a different idea/short lick. Keep it short.

5) pause again.

6) Now play something completely different, maybe using a different rhythm, or play on the low strings (if you started on the high string in #2 and #4). Try to still keep it fairly short, don't play too many notes!

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I would suggest you don't record anything more than this. If you get this first 6 points right - you will have an awesome start to something melodic, so just focus on getting this right. Less is more!

It will be great to see if you take the challenge. Also, anyone else reading this may of course record as well and get feedback here (see above for backings).


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Aris
post Nov 23 2014, 01:40 PM
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Thanks both of you guys,

Your comments are extremely helpful and the provided steps just put everything in order for me. At this stage I need to do a lot of things differently so it helps to have such a procedure to start with.

I 'm on the task and I will let you know for more advice smile.gif
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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 24 2014, 10:17 AM
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Hey buddy, glad to hear that we can be of help. Just let us know how it goes and if any questions arise along the way, write us here smile.gif Kris' has pointed out the steps and I suggested the technical aspects, so combine all our thoughts and see what you can brew smile.gif Remember - less is more, in a lot of situations and it's always easier to start with little and add up along the way.


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Aris
post Dec 3 2014, 10:21 PM
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Hey Guys,

I'm finally back.

I think my first proper morning wake up did the job well. I have prepared most of the solo based on Kristofer's steps, also keeping in mind Gabriel's and Cosmin's comments.

I hope most parts are on time now except for the last two seconds maybe. I didn't want to let it wait for longer until it's perfect. I thought that I could use your advice sooner rather than later.

Here is the URL for the track: https://soundcloud.com/aris-33/improv-on-kristofer9

My approach on this was the following:

1. The first phrase starts at 00:08 with the question
2. At 00:11 ->00:18, I play a response to the first phrase
3. At 00:20->00:25, I repeat the question with a slight twist adding some notes (as it is quoted by Kristofer in step 4 below)
- Here I notice that there is some tension at the end of this question which remains unresolved
4: So At 00:28-> 00:35, I play the response to the previous question which is a slight variation of it but ending on the note of the next chord (which seems to resolve the question)
5. At 00:37 I guess this works as a small bridge towards the part that follows on the low strings at 00:40(this is quoted by Kristofer as step 6)
6. At 00:48 is the response to the above question in point 5
- I just figured it out today, so it is not played so fluently
7. At 00:55 -> 1:00 is the last repeated question and the response could be the following notes although there is no pause. I played it as one phrase since it also popped up in mind one phrase. All questions and the response in this point are very similar to the original question in points 1 and 3. The last second is not timed correctly but i didn't want to wait for one more day after such a long time of silence on my side.

I 'm looking forward to your comments and advice. What do you think?

This post has been edited by Aris: Dec 3 2014, 10:21 PM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Dec 3 2014, 10:48 PM
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QUOTE (Aris @ Dec 3 2014, 10:21 PM) *
I 'm looking forward to your comments and advice. What do you think?


Even though we're on the topic of 'question & repsonse' I am going to answer your question with another question:

What do you think about this take? (when comparing to your previous)


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Cosmin Lupu
post Dec 4 2014, 09:48 AM
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Hey Aris smile.gif Great to see you are working hard on this one, mate!

As Kris very well asked - What do you feel about your take? smile.gif One of the important aspects of making music is to make it as musical as possible and to allow it to transmit something. If you just follow technicallities and forget the utmost purpose, you will not allow yourself to speak freely through music. I know it might sound too esotheric or philosophic, but I would suggest you to take a moment and think a bit about creating a balance among the directions given by Kris and the things you hear in your head.

Also, I would approach timing and dynamics in this take - some of the phrases sound a bit unsure in terms of execution from the timing perspective and some of the phrases are a bit too static - they don't move in any direction.

I would suggest you to take the phrases and see where do they begin and where they could end - allow them to take direction.

Another thing you could try, would be to take another look over your favorite lessons and see where Kris' concepts can be found in phrases from those lessons and use the adaptation method again, but this time oriented on the directions Kris gave you smile.gif


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Kristofer Dahl
post Dec 4 2014, 10:05 AM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Dec 3 2014, 10:48 PM) *
Even though we're on the topic of 'question & repsonse' I am going to answer your question with another question:

What do you think about this take? (when comparing to your previous)


I hope I didn't scare you with this question! tongue.gif

I think you have solved the problem with this take, and with this approach you no longer have any structural issues in your solo. Please remember the lessons learned from this thread as soon you play lead lines the coming time, it will help shape your phrasing in a very musical way.

This success also means you have taken an important step, and you can now move on to other departments (see Cosmin's reply).

If I were you, the most enjoyable way of approaching this would be to find a lesson that you like - and study the details of one single lick and focus only on that. This way you don't need to think as much about all the theoretical aspects, just focus on making your playing sound as good as the instructor's.

For example you could choose any lick from this lesson: https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/Slow-Blues-Phrasing/
(feel free to choose a different lesson though)

If you want to me to keep giving you feedback here, please choose a super short section and record it over a backing. Then let me know which passage you were attempting to duplicate.

Your progress is very promising! biggrin.gif




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Gabriel Leopardi
post Dec 4 2014, 02:56 PM
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Hi Aris! We are also discussing about these takes at Gab's Army and I now discover that my opinion is very related to what Cosmin and Kris are saying here. It's very interesting to see how your phrasing is evolving and I can say that the next step in order to make this solo grow more is to work on expression things like vibrato, dynamics, different ways to reach a note (bend, pre-bend, slide, harmonics). It doesn't mean that you have to use everything on each phrase, but be sure that a phrase can grow a lot using this ideas. (Remember that Vai video that I shared with you).

By the way, I think that this thread has evolved so good, and that it has been a very interesting and inspiring journey that influenced my own playing. I hope that this thread or these type of threads keep on growing at GMC. smile.gif


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Aris
post Dec 4 2014, 04:52 PM
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Hi Guys,

Thanks a lot for your feedback!
I really want to take it to the next level and your feedback proves to be very helpful.

QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl)
What do you think about this take? (when comparing to your previous)


- I think it's definitely more melodic (perhaps the most melodic piece i ve ever played so far) and it shows some signs of soul compared to previous work.
- Another huge difference is that I can distinguish the different phrases and responses. The last phrase sounds a bit vague though.
- Another thing is that each phrase has enough room to breath followed by big silence gaps, but I 'm also concerned if the large silence gaps may cause the audience to loose interest.
- Timing is improved but still need to work on it. I guess it comes with experience and playing time.

Based on your feedback I also noticed the following:
It is still lacking expression tools and dynamics. I use only 1 slide, a few bends and some badly played vibratos. I will work more on the vibrato lesson that Gabriel sent me.
From Cosmin's feedback I noticed also that the solo does not use much of the fretboard (different octaves) and pretty much it ends very close (on the fretboard) where it started from. Maybe this is what Cosmin describes as a static melody.

What I feel about it? I 'm not happy comparing it to music made by other guitar players but I see it's starting to sound like music which makes me happy.
After your comments, I feel even better since I realized that I have made use of a few musical aspects for the first time( eg. structure, calls & responses). So reflecting back on this take, I feel that I have made a crucial step in my journey towards making music. Of course, this would not have happened without your support and I feel grateful for your help and direction here at the thread and GMC. Kristofer's steps also forced me to follow a well defined path like a dummy so I was able to focus mostly on getting the structure right and forget the million other things that I have to do right.

QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu)
Also, I would approach timing and dynamics in this take - some of the phrases sound a bit unsure in terms of execution from the timing perspective

I think you refer to the times that I 'm not strumming at the right time and/or with the correct loudness. Correct?

QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu)
and some of the phrases are a bit too static - they don't move in any direction.

I listened to Kris' video and I can feel the direction of the phrases there but I'm not sure I can figure out what the player does to give the direction feeling to his phrases.
Are my assumptions below correct?
- covering some ground on the fretboard before ending up on the same or a different note
- playing a different compatible note than the key of the chord played at the time
I 'll try to analyze it more though to understand what I should be looking for.

QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu)
Another thing you could try, would be to take another look over your favorite lessons and see where Kris' concepts can be found in phrases from those lessons and use the adaptation method again, but this time oriented on the directions Kris gave you smile.gif


I wanted to try this as it was also suggested in the earlier stages of the thread but my version was too crowded of different licks and sounded robotic. I should give it another shot to see how it will end up after following the same guidelines.

QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl)
If I were you, the most enjoyable way of approaching this would be to find a lesson that you like - and study the details of one single lick and focus only on that. This way you don't need to think as much about all the theoretical aspects, just focus on making your playing sound as good as the instructor's.

For example you could choose any lick from this lesson: https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/Slow-Blues-Phrasing/
(feel free to choose a different lesson though)

If you want to me to keep giving you feedback here, please choose a super short section and record it over a backing. Then let me know which passage you were attempting to duplicate.


I will surely pick a lick and send it for feedback here. There are plenty of interesting and melodic licks in the video and I really like Mark Knopfler's style.
I think I would pick the lick played at 00:51->01:10 (part 5 of the lesson). It looks like a classic one which could be used in most rock songs. Let me know if I should only focus on the first phrase of this section to be super short.

This post has been edited by Aris: Dec 4 2014, 04:58 PM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Dec 4 2014, 10:39 PM
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QUOTE (Aris @ Dec 4 2014, 04:52 PM) *
I will surely pick a lick and send it for feedback here. There are plenty of interesting and melodic licks in the video and I really like Mark Knopfler's style.
I think I would pick the lick played at 00:51->01:10 (part 5 of the lesson). It looks like a classic one which could be used in most rock songs. Let me know if I should only focus on the first phrase of this section to be super short.

Yes that lick is a cool choice, and yes it is also a good idea to just focus on the very first phrase. If you can get one right, the coming ones will be much easier.

It will be very interesting to hear how this works out for you.

QUOTE (Aris @ Dec 4 2014, 04:52 PM) *
- Another thing is that each phrase has enough room to breath followed by big silence gaps, but I 'm also concerned if the large silence gaps may cause the audience to loose interest.


Yes this is a very motivated thought, however I can assure these kinds of silences will never be boring. It's all about what preceeds and follows the silence.

Listener anticipation will be bigger because of the silences - but that is also our intention. We want that anticipation to grow while we also feed it - that means we are creating good music.

QUOTE (Aris @ Dec 4 2014, 04:52 PM) *
I think you refer to the times that I 'm not strumming at the right time and/or with the correct loudness. Correct?


@ Cosmin, could you be more specific in your feedback so we can understand what sections you are referring to and what you suggest doing instead?


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Cosmin Lupu
post Dec 5 2014, 09:44 AM
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Hey Aris - your assumptions are correct in terms of debating direction:

- take note of where you are and where you want to get on the fretboard smile.gif There was this interview with Richie Kotzen, in which he stated that he sometimes looks at his playing as making a statement with a phrase that can be static and moving to the next one with the aid of a run or a more dynamic phrase. So, dissecting this a bit, why not experimenting with the following idea:

-> think of 2 different theme like phrases, something that can keep the listener's attention on what you are playing and that can stay with him after the piece has finished. Get inspiration from your favorite guitar themes smile.gif
-> find 2 spots in which you can play each of them (play each in 2 separate octaves)
-> find at least 3 different run variations (scale based, arpeggio based - your choice) that can link theme number one in octave one with theme number 1 in octave 2 and the same for the other theme.
-> link theme number 1 in octave 1 with theme number 2 in octave 2 and so on, mixing them among themselves until you find various combinations that can sound interesting smile.gif
-> experiment with picking louder or softer, vibrating and bending so that you can have a few elements that involve dynamics - as you mentioned, the playing seems a bit stale because it is linear in terms of dynamics. I am not thinking of strumming here but about the main voice - the lead line that catches the listener's attention - that is in front of everything, in the recording at a first glance, correct? smile.gif

This will not only give you direction and remove the static feeling but also add dynamics/life to the recording. Try to stick to this small idea/section that I described above, so that your foucs will unbiased - you will get far better results with small sections rather then spreading yourself thin at this stage on bigger portions of the track smile.gif Let's see what you get, ok?


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Aris
post Dec 5 2014, 03:58 PM
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Yeah!!! more steps to follow. As I said before, following steps at this stage, make me feel more certain that I 'm focusing towards the right direction. Also it did the job well for me last time. So, keep them coming smile.gif

I will take up both tasks proposed and I will post my takes here. Thanks a lot you guys!


@Cosmin: Yes you 're right about the picking loudness. I did not pay any attention to dynamics while I was making up and playing these melodies. At least not consciously. I will keep it in mind for the coming melodies.

Considering how long it took me the last time, I expect this will also take me a while until I can find some good lines to complete your task but I hope I will not need very long.
One last thing in order to ensure that I got everything down correctly - could you explain what you define as a "run"?
QUOTE
find at least 3 different run variations
Sorry but I 'm slowly getting familiar with the terminologies.

This post has been edited by Aris: Dec 5 2014, 03:59 PM
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