Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Making it up

After my technical course on music production I'm now onto another from +Coursera on improvisation. This is being taught by jazz great Gary Burton. I see he just blogged that 39,000 people are signed up! As with the other course a lot of people will sign up just because it's free and not stay with it.

I'm no expert on jazz. I've listened to a fair bit and been to some very cool gigs, but don't totally get it. I even did an evening class on jazz improvisation years ago. That was fun. I mostly got by on the few scales I know and some hints from the teacher. Watching another guy there playing a million chords on his big Gibson made me appreciate how little I know.

So far my improvising has been fairly aimless. I know lots of neat riffs, but can't always use them in the right context or come up with my own. I hope this course will help me move forward. The first week's lessons have just covered what the course is about and some explanation of what improvisation is. No details of chords and scales yet. The first assignment involves analysing one of his solos and then improvising over the same backing. This has some extended chords that I wouldn't know how to play. My friend +AshBrooke Music, who is also on the course, suggested starting with a C Major scale. I tried that and I can hear some places where a flattened 7th or 3rd will sound better. I need to work out which chords that applies to. I thought I'd record something straight away. This will at least give me something to compare to later and I ought to be recording myself more anyway.


I know it's not great, but I think I have some feel for the rhythm and for ending up on the 'right' notes. You will hear me searching for the note in places. This ties in with the Chord Tone Soloing book I'm reading, but haven't fully grasped yet.

I plan to look at Gary's solo and work out what is happening with the chords.