Improvisation Lesson

by Nick Kellie

Lesson step:

  • main
  • Members only1
  • 2
  • Members only3
  • Members only4
  • Members only5
  • Difficulty: 7
  • Lesson
  • My notes
  • Statistics

  • Hi Chaps, great to be here again! This lesson we are taking a look at improvisation.
    I had some questions regarding improvising and where to get ideas, how to improvise, what scales to use etc. so I thought this would be an ideal way to bring my own ideas across.

    The video on this page is an improvisation I made over a 2 chord loop. The two chords in question are from different keys and therefore we cannot play 1 scale that will fit over both the chords. When the chord changes, the scale must change with it. If this is a concept you haven’t tried before then be sure to take your time and really make sure you hit the right notes at the right time, if you get the scales mixed up it will sound awful!

    The first thing we need to look at is the chord progression itself - here it is:

    E minor11 | Eb Major9#11

    Here is the interval formula for E minor11 - R b3 5 b7 9 11
    and here is the interval formula for Eb Major9#11 - R 3 5 7 9 #11

    First of all I will explain what a 9th and a #11 are. When we go up a scale 8 notes (assuming its a standard 7 note scale) we get back to the octave. Therefore a 9th is the same as a 2nd only 1 octave higher. So a #11 is a #4 - AKA b5.

    When improvising over any chord we need to know that our note choices for improvising don’t clash with the notes in the chord. So the safest way to make sure is to choose a scale which contains the same intervals as the chord. I should mention that as well as scales we can improvise with many different approaches - Arpeggios, Pentatonics, Diads etc..
    Lets take a look at our chord intervals and see which mode would fit with which chord. So first the E minor 11.. there are 3 minor modes in the major scale. Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian. We cannot use phrygian with the E minor 11 chord because the chord contains a 9th whereas the scale contains a b2 - AKA b9. The result would be catastrophic! We can however use Dorian and also Aeolian.. I personally chose dorian because it has a edgy and bluesy feel to it... and also because its transition into the next chord seems smoother.

    The next chord is Eb Major9#11... there is only one mode of the major scale that contains both a #11 and natural 7 and that is the Lydian mode.

    Throughout this lesson I will be talking you through my mental and theoretical approach to improvisation which will include thematic development and interval stacking.

    This lesson is a little different in that I am encouraging you to improvise as opposed to learning a set solo, therefore I have outlined various concepts with a series of licks for you to try out and implement in your own way.

    Good luck and speak soon!

    Eb Lydian.jpg

    E Dorian.jpg
  • Login to use my notes. No GMC account? Register here.
  • Members practicing this lesson

    REC Takes

      This lesson does not have any REC takes yet.
      Here is how to submit one.

    Lesson views

    • Total views: 0
    • Member views: 0
    • Guest views: 0