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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2001, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 345
Running out of ideas...

I don't know if it's just me being a worrywart, or if I'm really hearing the truth, but I think my improvisational ideas are starting to stagnate. My friends love my playing, but unlike them I hear myself play all the time, and I'm really dissatisfied about it. It's like I hit a wall, but not in terms of technique, ... I'm just out of fresh-sounding things to play around with.

Anyone familiar with this 'stale improv syndrome' and how to cure it? Any and all suggestions welcome; if you'd like me to record an improv I'll try...

sixstringphoenix is offline  
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2001, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Running out of ideas...

This happens to me sometimes, too. I take that back, it happens to me all the time. If you record something I'll try to help and suggest things you should work on(small clip please, I'm have a dail-up). I found the thing that helped me the most is just learning something new or trying something new. Listen to something else you don't usualy listen to and try to use elements of that in your playing. Or you can try learning a new technique or a more advanced way of applying a technique you already know. You know how to play something using 2 hand tapping right? Well maybe next time you play don't use that old tapping lick you always use, instead make up your own tapping pattern on the fly. Or you could try using diffrent scales. There are a million things to do, but it takes time and practice to make them sound good in the context of improv. It's been my experience that anything that really helps my playing skills has to be worked on in the woodshed before I can use it.
Chan is offline  
post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2001, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Running out of ideas...

I may record something sometime soon... but beware as I only have Cool Edit Pro and my monitor mic.. nothing special at all. I know nothing about recording.

sixstringphoenix is offline  
post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2001, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 116
Running out of ideas...

I've found out that when I've kept a few days away from the guitar I sometimes come with new ideas when I start playing again. And another thing is that try to improvise over music you normally wouldn't like/listen. I actually borrowed a Britney Spears CD from a friend of mine (He doesn't like it but bought the CD just for fun) to improvise over, and I might have picked out a few new things from the CD playing all that Major scale stuff. So you could just see what's on the radio or put on MTV and play along those cheesy pop tunes.:biggrin:

BTW - I think I'm also starting to be at the point when I start to repeat those old licks and notes...and I have some major trouble improvising over Country and Jazz.
ytsejam is offline  
post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2001, 05:39 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Running out of ideas...

Start transcribing!

but don't pick up Vai licks, but try figuring out some jazz saxophone lines etc... Just get yourself doing something you otherwise wouldn't.
Mr Orange is offline  
post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2001, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 345
Running out of ideas...

All good ideas so far... the pop tunes thing is funny. But my transcribing is mediocre and I find it hard to (with my guitar) transcribe any other instrument.

sixstringphoenix is offline  
post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2001, 01:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Running out of ideas...

Oh well, I've never met a single person who could transcribe tricky licks acuurately from 100% speed, so get a gizmo that slows stuff down a bit. Even Vai used 1/2 speed when transcribing Zappa stuff.
Boomerang phrase sampler should do it, Akai has some stuff available, Korg Pandora 3's also got some slo-mo options.
Go for it, as Vai said "transcribing is good for your soloing, reading, your ear... and your psychiatrist" :biggrin:
Mr Orange is offline  
post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2001, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 743
Running out of ideas...

this happens to me too.
heres what i do.
I quit soloing and playing everything that i usually do, then i just start making up chords and/or
look in a chord book for weird and unusual chords.
After messin with all the "new" chord structures and makin stuff up with chords, i find that my ears and improv have gotten a waxing. So when i go back to the improv/solo stuff, my subconscious has somewhat registered the new and different sound structures and now my improv
begins to take on a new perspective.

Hope this helps.
vwall is offline  
post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2001, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 345
Running out of ideas...

hey, you guys got all great ideas. Hopefully I'll recover from SIS sometime soon. Actually my bassist and I have written a sketch for a main chord progression for a song. It goes something like Em7-Em6-C9#11-Bb maj7b5 and after a while I get to improvise over it (E Dorian-C Lydian dominant). I'm finding new things to play because I'm not usually a Lydian dominant player.

Although when I get home I'm usually tempted to improvise stuff I'm comfortable with. I gotta stop! lol


p.s. I must be the only guitarist here whose ear isn't *as good as their theory skills. Sounds like you guys are ear players by instinct. Whenever I make up a chord or anything, my theory takes over and I name it & think of or make up a scale that fits based around its chord tones.

(EDIT - typos)

(Edited by sixstringphoenix at 8:15 am on Aug. 22, 2001)
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2001, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
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Running out of ideas...

Must be nice:glare:

I', lucky to now 6-7 chords??

All ear...

..I think thats my problem with my playing???
vwall is offline  
post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-23-2001, 06:32 AM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: North London, innit bruv, safe, UK
Posts: 1,717
Running out of ideas...

Buy a random CD from a genre you on't really listen to, and play by ear along to it, or just listen to it. I find my playing stagnates when I listen to the same vein of stuff for too long. You'll get new ideas by listening to new stuff! I find this helps for me (and yes, I have played solo's over britney spears and other weird stuff, it is definetly fun and worth trying). Also try to do something like sing through a mike while playing or something totally different so you can't fully concentrate on the guitar. I tried this yesterday, and came up with a whole bunch of new stuff. It kind of "changed" the way I was coming up with stuff.
7 Dying Trees is offline  
post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-23-2001, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 16
Running out of ideas...

OK, man, i've just read the post and it happened that I found meself in a scimilar state o' mind... But it's even worse (sorry to add more questions to a topic that wasn't mine since the beginning) - it's not even my improvisation - it's absolute 5:30 (look at the clock and use yer imagination a bit to get the joke 8-)
I feel that EVERYTHING I do (musically) sux. It just does.
Re-reading Vai Martian love secrets helps the mind, but doesn't make the sounds more beautiful or less boring.
Speaking of composition - could anyone share some ideas - I find meself being unable to construct anything that wouldn't remind me of something that I've already heard lotsa times. I'm so frustrated... Geeze...
Kramom is offline  
post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-23-2001, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 74
Running out of ideas...

yes, getting in a rut suck big time......

here are a couple of thing you can do that should help you out.
Record a progression that you usally like soloing over..
but when you solo over it now restrict yourself to only playing certain things *ie... only play on the thrid string,
use only trills on the thrid string, play only on the 1st string and the third string, play only on the 2nd and 4th string... , only play double stops(two notes play together at the same time)

Another really cool thing to do is: listen to the progression but don't play anyhting on the guitar, think in your head what you imagine you want the solo to sound like, they hum it and teach yourself to play what you hummed on the guitar... you will be amazed at the stuff you come up with, and it is different from anyhting you would normally do because you dont fall back on your favorite scales or patterns...

i did this on a song I recorded on balance and it came out to be one of my favorite solo's....

if one of you have my balance cd can u put up just the solo break so people can here it on the song Masquerade.

balducci is offline  
post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-23-2001, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 237
Running out of ideas...

Rob's idea of thinking up music away from the guitar is a great one. I do this myself, usually when I'm at work and away from any means of actually getting the idea 'down', unfortunately! But it is true that you come up with melodies/ideas outside one's normal 'idiom'.

I'm stuck in a rut too. I spent the last six months working primarily on technique, but it still isn't anywhere near what it needs to be to play the stuff I want.
Unless it's a ballad-type track with a tempo less than 100bpm I can't seem to nail it.

GuyCool is offline  
post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2001, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
Running out of ideas...

Yet another idea is just to work on phrasing. *Take a run you usually like to play and phrase it differently, work on different rhythm structures and syncopation, accents and what not. *Often you can get the same notes to sound completely differently within the context of a new phrase. *This will begin to fuel different ideas and different phrase structures of the same runs will inspire you to create new sounds to accompany the modes you are tapping into...all this and you didn't have to learn anything new.

I think listening to Jazz sax players is an excellent suggestion. *Talk about phrasing, it is everything. *Just try taking a neat sax run and playing that on guitar, trying to match the accents and fluidity. *Hey, you can even start incorporating Kenny G covers into your sets.
Gresh is offline  

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