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How does one develop an ear for improvement? (Read 810 times)

Offline panolof

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How does one develop an ear for improvement?
« on: June 14, 2016, 11:24:18 PM »
Hello fellow members
It's been a few weeks, and I apologise for my delay with posts - especially the critics 😉
So here is my new improv:

Entitled: "A Bright Stride Through the Darkness"
Improvisation no. : 19
Length: 9:38

My question is how can one develop an ear for harmonies, melodies, rhythms?
Please don't say "practise" ;)
And any thoughts for improvements to this improv? I know structure is lacking, but I much rather prefer no structure for the time being as I develop my musical-voice.

Ideas I have - tell me what you think:
Practise scales and pieces with eyes closed (simple)
Improvise to pieces by changing rhythms or other elemnts of music whilst structure is kept the same (difficult)
Transpose the piece and perform it in a new different key. (Takes times)

Offline adodd81802

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #1 on: June 15, 2016, 02:33:12 PM »
I'm going to ignore your text and ideas and just refer directly to your question.

How does one develop an ear for improvement.

Simple - listen? Actually listen.

My music reading is poor, absolutely poor. I've done next to no scales or arpeggios changing rhythms etc etc so how do I learn a piece?

I listen - I get the music infront of me, by this point I've probably listened to about 20 versions of it. More than likely i'm only learning it because I have heard it and I enjoy it.

So I start learning, I read through slowly and start repeating the notes, a complicated bit comes up, and I try and play it, I get through it, I struggle. So I stop. I listen to it, what's going wrong, what doesn't sound quite right.

I go back to my recordings and listen to that section with absolute concentration... OH i'm hitting the wrong note, I misread the music, now that's better.

All you have to do is listen.

Now on the flip side of this, more in relation to composition, you can use the same rule in any genre of music.

What makes a piece good? Listen to a bad piece!

What is it about the song that keeps you humming the tune, what is it that makes it stick in your head, is it the repeating chorus, is it that change in key that gets your ears excited.

Lastly, and I'm pretty confident this could be your issue, is lacking theory. It's not just good hearing what's going on you have to understand what's going on. E.g key change, to an average listener, they can hear it, they don't know what it is, why it's happening or why it works.

Theory helps your ears understand WHY something is happening. When you can understand this, you can better understand where it's missing in your pieces, and put it in.

We can hear John Field's Nocturnes through Chopin, We can hear Chopin's preludes through Scriabin, but they all studied theory.

Something like this may be good for you, I don't know your background, but theory is important.
Stefan Kostka's Tonal Harmony.

You can find it online with enough searching, or if things get desperate, I can send you a copy.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline visitor

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #2 on: June 15, 2016, 05:37:55 PM »
Hello fellow members
It's been a few weeks, and I apologise for my delay with posts - especially the critics 😉
So here is my new improv:

Entitled: "A Bright Stride Through the Darkness"
Improvisation no. : 19
Length: 9:38

My question is how can one develop an ear for harmonies, melodies, rhythms?
Please don't say "practise" ;)
And any thoughts for improvements to this improv? I know structure is lacking, but I much rather prefer no structure for the time being as I develop my musical-voice.

Ideas I have - tell me what you think:
Practise scales and pieces with eyes closed (simple)
Improvise to pieces by changing rhythms or other elemnts of music whilst structure is kept the same (difficult)
Transpose the piece and perform it in a new different key. (Takes times)
this is a great way to position your recording and also introduce it and what you would like from viewers/board members. I really appreciate the way you posted this.

i will review more but my main initial suggestion is for you to first work on having a better understanding of conventional (ie common practice period tonal) and pop/jazz harmonization and harmonic progression. then while you are playing, do you have a plan for what you will do next, do you know where you are, ie the key, the base/root of your current underpinning chord, what scalar figuaration or lick do you intend to play, where will it take you?

it';s not about planning the whole piece but understanding for example basics of I-ii-iv-v(7)-vi- etc can help give pull the ear where you want it to go. same for pop variances on common progressions, then it's just add some spice with spicier chords like flat ninth, borrowed chords, etc.

beyond the 'home work' is just playing with different scales, ie pentatonic, blues, etc. and playing them over simple base changes as you do this more and more i think you'll get more comfortable w the language/idiom you are using and you'll be able to develop ideas, spontaneously, even more

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #3 on: June 15, 2016, 06:13:31 PM »
I didnt know you can write so much visitor.
Work in progress:

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Offline visitor

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #4 on: June 15, 2016, 06:15:48 PM »
I didnt know you can write so much visitor.
i have multi talent

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #5 on: June 15, 2016, 06:17:51 PM »
LOL !!
seriously, do you have a categorized database of these ?
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Offline visitor

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #6 on: June 16, 2016, 12:03:49 PM »
op,
to add to my earlier reply, once you study  the theory behind logical haromic progressions, and get a feel for planing while you improv what you will do next, and also comfort with scales and scalr derived figuration in multiple keys, then apply that to an existing frame work to practice your skill for spontaneous composition and arranging while playing, ie improvs on existing tunes. this will teach some valuable skills you can then apply to original tunes/melodies you come up with in your improv.

ie see this guy play the famous Rodgers tune, Blue Moon *(old movie tune), we definitely almost instantly hear the familiar piece but he plays with it, rhythmic variation, reharmonizations, transposition, etc.  

you lean more to a new age type but there is a lot going on in the new age space too (you cold take yiruma pieces and improv on those themes to practice), right now your pieces have bits and chunks of interesting areas then a bunch of space with no direction, you need to underpin what you are doing with a progression and plan to get somewhere, you should be phrasing, varying dynamics, rhythm, etc. to build and release TENSION and pull the listener where you are going with it. it doesn't sound like you exactly have an idea of where you want to take it so the playing sort of just floats around and treads water at times.

here's the ex i stated above listen all the way through it's particular easy to hear where he feels something different and changes gears, and in an effortless manner

Offline visitor

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #7 on: June 16, 2016, 12:42:05 PM »
adding to above, also do not feel limited to popular, jazz, or stage tunes, just about anything can give you a skeleton to build on,
see Montero play w the popular Bach aria from the Goldberg Variations, again if you have a melody in your head or a basic harmonic underpinning you can do a lot withit. even her style here differs considerably from the source material

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: How does one develop an ear for improvement?
«Reply #8 on: June 17, 2016, 03:44:07 AM »
^These can be considered gifs in a way.


Minutes long gifs. 
And set them to auto- repeat
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