Returning to improvisation

Though the last couple of weeks I’ve headed towards composition and chords, it’s important to maintain and even build upon already acquired skills.

Last night, while playing the E major scale all over the fretboard, the concept of improvising suddenly became more clear. I begun by playing three or four notes randomly selected notes (however, all part of the same scale) in what I can only describe as a repetitive, circular pattern – over and over again, until this pattern was well acquainted with my ears.

While doing this, a mental image of a light traveling in a circuit formed in my mind. Eventually, I would try to break away from it, yet, return at the same time (this, reflected in the mental image as well as which notes I played and how I played them). I don’t know if there is a proper term for this technique as I’ve never come across it before but I can’t imagine no one else having ever used it before.

The mental picture of a circuit in my mind really helped me build on my improvised playing, giving it direction and keeping it all sounding cohesive and purposeful but not mind-numbingly repetitive. The basic pattern I begun with was the fundamental idea or theme that everything else on top would relate to. Before this, my “improvising” could more closely be described as simply moving up and down a scale.

Just a thought worth keeping in mind.


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