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Improvisation
http://praisewhistlers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=106
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Author:  Adrian [ Sun Jan 22, 2006 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Improvisation

Chiff and Fipple primarily focuses on Irish music but PWA seems to have a naturally wider spectrum of musical interests as worship is quite different from the average Irish session. The whistler in a worship band is not normally playing jigs, reels, hornpipes, slip jigs, polkas, mazurkas etc and so need a few more musical skills up their sleeve. Though most whistlers in a worship context will utilise ornamentation, phrasing etc from the Irish tradition.

Several people wrote to me about pentatonic scales as a response to Jeff’s thread and it occurred to me that improvising is not really part of traditional musical education and that there may be one or two things worth passing on that may be of value. I’m no expert and there are musicians on this board that know a lot more than me about the theory and practice of music and I hope they’ll add to this.

In this post I’ll only briefly talk about the:

DORIAN Scale – This is really a mode and I won’t waste time explaining what that is. BUT if you don’t know how to play it and you are not using it then you are missing a lot. It is very very easy to play and improvise with. Just playing it people find it is very calming, stress relieving, soothing, emotional and spiritual. It is widely used in music therapy. It is usually something that I’ll teach a beginner in lesson one so that the new learner of whistle or recorder can go to their room or park and play something that sounds great, is very satisfying and touches their soul.

How do you play it? It is simply the major scale but starts and ends on the second note. On your D whistle start on E and play each note ending on high E. Try it! Now play some free improvisation just wherever your soul takes you. The important thing is to start and finish on the E note as this fixes the mode as Dorian.

In the west improvisation is a neglected part of traditional musical education and I encourage you to teach your students this wonderful aspect of music.

If you are tied to written music now’s the time to put the books away for a while, turn the lights down and play to God.


More later

Author:  Revles [ Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Improvisation

Sounds good to me Adrian...and I am sure your technical knowledge much surpasses my own....but I find it useful to play hymns, choruses etc from music where chords are shown....I then play my improvisations based on the various chords, changing where the chords change....it works...or I have adapted...or rather adopted......the Irish habit of using arpegios...most IT seems to be based on this structure it seems...this can work well...either way one can come up with some quite acceptable...sometimes very pro sounding..improvisations...I learnt music by ear...then learnt sight reading...quite a useful combination I found....learnt everything I could about the key of C then using mathmatics transposed my learning into every other key......Have always regretted not learning properly though..best wishes with your instructions........blessings Les

Author:  Jeff [ Sun Jan 22, 2006 6:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmmm...(as jeff picks up the whistle)...DORIAN scale...(as jeff tries this out and improvs)....

Very...cool! (I even sound like I know what I am doing :))

Thanks.
Jeff

Author:  n4vgm [ Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

Just pass on the F# and the C (# or nat) and you should have the pentatonic scale. I've noticed that some smooth jazz tunes are in Em or Am and the scale seems to work. Maybe find a jazz radio station and give it a try.

Bob Z.

Author:  Adrian [ Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:46 am ]
Post subject: 

More tips on improvising

PENTATONIC SCALES

On the whistle and in Irish music two pentatonic scales are commonly used. In a worship context they are very useful as you can use them to improvise without making big mistakes and even on the first time you hear a song.

D Ionian: (also called major pentatonic) – D, E, F#, A, B
E Dorian: E, G, A, B, D Also known as minor 7th pentatonic I believe, and is one of the most used scale in rock and blues. This is often the first scale a guitarist learns.

These scales are EASY on the whistle as there are no half hole notes.

As there is no dissonance in pentatonic scales i.e. no ‘wrong’ notes there is great mileage in using them either in free improvisation or when you want to improvise along to a tune. You can play the notes in any order and it sounds like a tune.

[There are lots of other kinds of pentatonic scales but we don’t need to use them on the whistle unless you are adventurous]

The D Ionian works with a song in D major.

The E Dorian works with a song in Em. A minor key is one in which the 3rd note is flattened by a half note. There are a number of different kinds of minor scales including: natural, harmonic, melodic, Dorian, blues.

HOW TO USE THEM – “Come now is the time to worship” is often in the key of D. If you have a CD with this then put it on and just play along using the notes of the major pentatonic (D, E, F#, A, B). You CAN use G and C# but for now just use them briefly as ‘passing notes’. WOW! You can now play along and improvise to most songs in D even if you don’t fully know the melody.

Of course, once you are comfortable with the scale you will start looking for the spaces in the song where you can play without getting in the way of the song e.g. at the end of phases

In a song in Em try using the E Dorian pentatonic (E, G, A, B, D) sounds really cool. Again you can fly with it.

Of course there is a lot more to learn but you’ll find this a great start.

JUST FOR INTEREST

Pentatonic scales are ancient and found all over the world. Lot’s of Scottish music is pentatonic e.g. “Auld lang syne” is sung to a pentatonic air called "I fee'd a lad at Michaelmas.". “Amazing Grace” is pentatonic. Japanese and Chinese music uses the pentatonic scale (try just playing the back notes on a piano and you’ll see what i mean. Pentatonic tunes are often used in children’s songs.

Hope at least one person finds this helpful. If not then I still got good typing practice. :D

Bless you all.

Author:  Jim Wright [ Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:03 am ]
Post subject:  Improv

It works ... ok .. if you have more ..... keep them coming .........

I think I just impressed my dog ... wife is harder. :mrgreen:

Jim

Author:  Adrian [ Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:59 am ]
Post subject: 

OK Jim glad to have been of help. Iv'e scribbled some notes just for you about the:

THE BLUES SCALE


This is great fun Jim and you’ll recognise the bluesy jazzy sound as soon as you play it. The whistle is regarded by most whistlers as a transposing instrument so that if you want to play in the key of C then you pick up a C whistle and play it as if it were a D instrument. There are simply too many whistle keys to learn the real notes on each, 12 in fact. So I’ll give you the fingering for the E blues scale (on a D whistle) but if you want to play it easily in another key e.g. D blues scale then you’ll need to use a whistle in the relevant key.

The blues scale is a mix of the minor pentatonic and the minor 7th pentatonic

Numerically it is 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7 (It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what that means.)

X = Covered hole
H = Half hole
0 = Open hole

XXX XXO = E
XXX OOO = G
XXO OOO = A
XhO OOO = Bb This is the blue note
XOO OOO = B
OXX XXX = D
And so on in the second octave.

There are a lot fewer opportunities to use this scale in worship than the others but occasionally we used to have a song with a bluesy feel and this was the natural scale to use in improvising. It’s great fun and

On the flute or sax etc you have to learn this in every key so whistlers have it easy! It’s also very easy on the guitar as it is a movable scale.

Want more or is that enough for now?

Author:  Jim Wright [ Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Improv

That will do it for awhile .. want to play with them a little. Lived in New Orleans long enough to acquire an appreciation for the blues as well as Dixie Land Jazz ..... not to mention the food ...... well might as well mention the food .. it doesn't get any better than that!!! If .. you like seafood. :mrgreen:

Jim

Author:  Adrian [ Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Love seafood, love jazz maybe I should visit one day!

Author:  Blackhawk [ Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:32 am ]
Post subject: 

Adrian wrote:
Want more or is that enough for now?


More, more, MORE!!

Sometimes it's days in between segments of spare time for me to explore threads like this, but when I get time...man oh man, I'm learning a lot here, Adrian!

Most of what I've learned to play has been learned by ear, and one thing I've noticed is that if a song is emotional (sad might be a better word), it seems to start on the key of E (on a D whistle, or the second hole on any whistle). Examples are Wayfaring Stanger, Back Home in Derry, Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone, Stairway to Heaven, etc, at least the way I play them. I've never understood why so many plaintive songs start on E.

Anyway, Adrian, I may not respond to these posts right away due to time constraints, but I need these instructive posts, so please keep them up!

God bless you, brother!

Author:  Blackhawk [ Thu Jan 26, 2006 3:09 am ]
Post subject: 

Boy, I can kill any thread, can't I? :)

Author:  Adrian [ Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:21 am ]
Post subject: 

Blackhawk wrote:
Boy, I can kill any thread, can't I? :)


NO!

I was hoping that others would chip in. I'm more than aware that there are other here with much more experience and knowlege than me in playing and improvising in worship.

Playing in worship is quite diffferent from playing in jazz group so I don't want to go over the top.

It would be great if someone with an education in classical music would give us some instruction in writing harmony lines. Apart from playing alto parts or shadowing the melody in 3rds (or 4ths depending on the chord) and 5ths (or 6ths) i'm very limited and could do with some help.

Author:  Jim Wright [ Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Improv

Have been steadly working with the techniques that Adrian gave on this and actually had my wife ask me what tune I was playing as she liked it .. told her that I was just playing and had no idea what I was doing (which for some reason didn't surprise her) but then she said "she liked it very much" .. so this stuff does work and it is fun. I was in an up mood and guess the music reflected it.

So thanks Adrian .. this has been fun...

Jim

Author:  Kristos [ Sat Feb 11, 2006 5:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

Blackhawk wrote:
Most of what I've learned to play has been learned by ear, and one thing I've noticed is that if a song is emotional (sad might be a better word), it seems to start on the key of E (on a D whistle, or the second hole on any whistle). Examples are Wayfaring Stanger, Back Home in Derry, Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone, Stairway to Heaven, etc, at least the way I play them. I've never understood why so many plaintive songs start on E.


When you start and end on E with a D whistle, you are playing in E minor. Usually you start and end with D, which is D major generally. Minor keys sound sad or emotional. They each have a related Major key. Like C major and A minor. You play a minor key just like the related major except you start on a different note.

Deriving Keys

First we need to draw up the Circle of Keys. The 12 notes of music are:
A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab
To get the Circle of Keys, first pick a starting note. Write that on your circle. Now go foward 5 notes and put that one down next on your circle. Continue this until you get a full circle of 12 notes. It should look like this:

The Circle of Keys:
Code:
          F
   A#/Bb         C

 D#/Eb              G

G#/Ab                 D

 C#/Db              A

   F#/Gb         E
          B


To extract a Major Key, start on the note before it counterclockwise. That note and the 6 after it (clockwise) are the 7 notes in that major key. For example, for C major, we start on F and see that C major is F, C, G, D, A, E, and B. The two closest notes to the key note are the perfect intervals. (F and G in C Major. You guitar players should quickly realize those as the common chords in a key. Like C, F, and G for C Major.). The furthest note is the strangest note. (B in C Major) To extract a minor key, start at the note 2 steps clockwise from the key note. Such as B for A Minor. That note and the 6 following counterclockwise form the minor key. For A Minor, this is B, E, A, D, G, C, and F. Once again, the two closest notes are the perfect intervals. (Play perfect intervals if you don't know what they are. Then you'll know why they're called such.)

To memorize the circle, I've heard "Fat Cats Grow Drowsy After Eating Breakfast". Remember then, Fat Cats Grow Drowsy After Eating Breakfast Fat(#) Cats(#) Grow(#) Drowsy(#) After(#) Fat Cats Grow Drowsy After Eating Breakfast Fat(#) Cats(#) Grow(#) Drowsy(#) After(#) Fat Cats Grow Drowsy After Eating Breakfast Fat(#) Cats(#) Grow(#) Drowsy(#) After(#) and on and on and on...

Questions anyone?

Author:  ConnieS [ Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Adrian wrote:
Blackhawk wrote:
Boy, I can kill any thread, can't I? :)
It would be great if someone with an education in classical music would give us some instruction in writing harmony lines.



My training is in the tech sector--only a little in music--but as I work now at teaching music, I've picked up a bit that might help.

If you're working with harmony to improv to an already existing song, most of the work (melody, phrasing, choosing key, scale, rhythm, etc.) is already done. So start by resting easy. Relax. Smile. Pick up your whistle. Try this. Instead of shadowing _under_ the melody, try shadowing _over_ the melody--a third or so ABOVE the melody line. That's tenor, which sounds rather nice with flute and whistle and other high woodwinds. Go get a CD and try. It's pretty.

That's what I've been doing since I've been improving for the worship team. Wandering around between alto and tenor, and playing bridges and such.

Thanks, Adrian, for putting out pentatonics for improv. I did not know how to apply it to improv, and a whole new world is opening up here.

Kristos, I wish you could come teach some of my mx classes. I have to coax them to learn the circle of fifths, but once they see how easy it is, it's fun to watch the lights go on in their eyes. :idea:

So now in our bag of improv tricks we have various pentatonic scales, the Dorian and Ionian modes, and mirroring the melody in alto or tenor. Oh, and a very cool blues scale. Anything else? [-o< Puh-lease!?

Author:  Jim Wright [ Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Improv

Ok .. I have no idea what it means to go up a third ... please simplify that for the non music folks.

I am working on your Turn your eyes .. .. getting there slowly.

Thanks,

Jim

Author:  Adrian [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:22 am ]
Post subject: 

A 3rd normally means up a major 3rd. This is the name given to the space between two notes. The space between two notes is called an 'interval'. The interval of a major third means to go to the 5th semitones / halftone above the starting note. If you have a keyboard (or picture of one) beginning with the start note and counting it as one go up (or down) the keyboard counting each adjacent note until you reach 5!

For example: starting with D and going up a major third we go D, D#, E, F, F# So FIVE note names from D gives us F# which is 'a major third above D'.

I personally found it most helpful to use a keyboard when first learning music theory as it is very visual and it becomes easy to 'see' chords.

It is very helpful to be able to recognise and reproduce the different musical intervals by ear. The easy way to learn this is to know the interval in a song. For example: If you want a major 3rd sing the the first two notes in 'Morning has broken'. [A useful phrase as the third note gives you a perfect 5th and the fourth note gives you the octave].

You can do this with all the intervals and it trains the ear. Drums are usually tuned a perfect 4th apart. Easy by ear as drummers as they tune the drums in series just sing "Here comes the bride" and voilĂ  a perfect 4th each time!

Two notes a 3rd (or 5th) apart sound very nice together (in harmony) and is one the basis in writing harmony. The trouble is that if you shadow a melody exactly all the time with the same interval it can sound a bit predictable BUT for a line or two it sounds very pretty.

Author:  Robbie [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:11 am ]
Post subject: 

Adrian wrote:
Quote:
It is very helpful to be able to recognise and reproduce the different musical intervals by ear. The easy way to learn this is to know the interval in a song. For example: If you want a major 3rd sing the the first two notes in 'Morning has broken'. [A useful phrase as the third note gives you a perfect 5th and the fourth note gives you the octave].


Another way is to listen to old Beach Boys songs. :lol:

Author:  Kristos [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Play this scale:
1# 2# 3 4# 5 6 7b 8#
Which is probably the wrong notation, but I'll tell
what I intended it to say:
D Eb F# Gb A Bb C# D

It just sounds cool playing around with it.

Author:  Adrian [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Connie

Here are some to try

The Phrygian Mode 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7 This has a strong Spanish feel and much of Spanish music is built around this scale. On the whistle just play from F - F following the D scale. Easy peasy!

It has an interval of a semitone between the first two notes. It is this that give the energy to the scale as it wants to resolve strongly to the root. Some say it acts like a magnet. Delay the resolution and the tension is increased.

Get a keyboard player or guitarist to hold a G/F# chord and see how many melodic ideas you can come up with before the chord is resolved finally to F# major.


Try the whole tone scale. This is used quite a bit in jazz and in some more modern classical music like that of Claude Debussy.
1, 2, 3, b5, b6, b7 On your whistle play A-A but play C nat and D#. This scale only has whole notes and is a bit strange to the ear as every note sounds as if it is the root. Actually each note DOES function as the root. Have fun with it.

I have a couple of other fun ones I'll post tomorrow.

Author:  Adrian [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

Kristos wrote:
Play this scale:
1# 2# 3 4# 5 6 7b 8#
Which is probably the wrong notation, but I'll tell
what I intended it to say:
D Eb F# Gb A Bb C# D

It just sounds cool playing around with it.


Hi Kristos

Bit confused F# and Gb are enharmonic (same note but different name). Did you mean F instead of F#?

Author:  Kristos [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sorry! I meant this one:
D Eb F# G A# B

Basically, out of the twelve notes in music, play:
1 2 5 6 9 10
(every other two)

Is there a name for that scale?

Author:  ConnieS [ Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Or an easy way for a whistler to think of thirds is to play an alphabet game with "every other letter." D F A C E G B That's just every other note. Every other note is thirds. So a third above the melody would just be--if the melody note is D, then you play F at the same time. If the melody moves up to E, then you play G at the same time. When I get new students, I start them out with alphabet cards--but the cards only go through G. I get them to lay the cards out A to G, then emphasize that the next letter in the MUSIC alphabet is A -- not H. A to B to C is seconds. Then we start working on thirds. They put down an A and C an E and G -- then instead of I, the third above G is B -- they skipped the A to get there.

When we play those bouncy Irish jigs, we do a lot of thirds--skipping every other hole. Those are MELODIC thirds, where they're played one after the other. When you take the A someone else is playing and play C simultaneously, it's a HARMONIC third -- you're playing the harmony. If that muddied the water, I'll try again. Please let me know. It's really more simple than it sometimes sounds. :|

Author:  Adrian [ Fri Feb 17, 2006 4:17 am ]
Post subject: 

Kristos wrote:
Sorry! I meant this one:
D Eb F# G A# B

Basically, out of the twelve notes in music, play:
1 2 5 6 9 10
(every other two)

Is there a name for that scale?


Your scale 1, b2, 3, 4, b6, 6 is very interesting. It is a hexatonic scale. Other hexatonics include the whole tone scale I wrote about yesterday and the blues scale.

Your scale is unlikly to have a name as few hexatonic scales do, as far as I'm aware. Many musicians prefer to regard hexatonic scales as either diatonic scales with a note removed or as pentatonic scales with a note added.

Simialar scales to yours include:

1,b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, 7 which is the Byzantine (double harmonic) and
1, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7 which is sometimes called the Spanish scale.

I like your scale and i'll call it the 'Kristos scale' ;)

Author:  Blackhawk [ Fri Feb 17, 2006 5:04 am ]
Post subject: 

ConnieS wrote:
Or an easy way for a whistler to think of thirds is to play an alphabet game with "every other letter." D F A C E G B That's just every other note. Every other note is thirds. So a third above the melody would just be--if the melody note is D, then you play F at the same time. If the melody moves up to E, then you play G at the same time. When I get new students, I start them out with alphabet cards--but the cards only go through G. I get them to lay the cards out A to G, then emphasize that the next letter in the MUSIC alphabet is A -- not H. A to B to C is seconds. Then we start working on thirds. They put down an A and C an E and G -- then instead of I, the third above G is B -- they skipped the A to get there.

When we play those bouncy Irish jigs, we do a lot of thirds--skipping every other hole. Those are MELODIC thirds, where they're played one after the other. When you take the A someone else is playing and play C simultaneously, it's a HARMONIC third -- you're playing the harmony. If that muddied the water, I'll try again. Please let me know. It's really more simple than it sometimes sounds. :|


:shock: :shock: Hey, I'm starting to see lights coming on....it's starting to make sense! Thank you, Connie!

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