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for the last year or so, i've been really into blues you know, like hendrix and...well mainly hendrix's type of blues, lot's of other music i like is based around blues scales (pink floyd, zeppelin etc) but i like hendrix because he has real blues songs like red house and stuff.
i like to improvise over backing tracks and stuff, but i'm running out of new licks and riffs to use in my blues soloing.
i know improvisation isn't COMPLETE improvisation for anyone, it's just playing riffs you already know and mixing and matching em a bit.
i've copied a few licks off hendrix and jeff beck and stuff, but it seems like i keep playing the same things over and over. i mean, i listen to hendrix non stop for like 3 hours a day or something, and it seems like i never hear him play the same riffs twice in a solo.
how can i fix this?
You might not like this, but STOP listening to Hendrix so much!
Originally Posted by lotus
Listen to some other music, there must be loads of other guitarists you also like. Get some new sounds in your ears, and even more importantly sit and work out licks from loads of other players as well to get some new sounds on your guitar too.
Or listen to people that don't play guitar, and cop some licks from them. That'll really get you branching out a bit more.
Ultimately you get out (in terms of what you play) what you put in (in terms of the mixture of music you listen to and learn from). The more varied your listening and the more variety in the music you learn to play then the more this will be reflected in your improv.
Thren keld, wing nut, why not rheam?
Man I'm gonna sound old, but really the best thing you can do is to go out and get your hands dirty and really try to understand WHAT it is you're playing, instead of just copying licks.
Originally Posted by lotus
Check out http://intellectualmusician.com/oakleaf/chordtones for more on that.
But if you want to know why things are starting to sound tired to you, it's simply because they are. By strictly working at copying other peoples licks endlessly it's really hard to create anything that sounds "fresh" to your ears.
The reason Hendrix never plays the same thing twice is because he has moved past playing licks to the point where he can spontaneously create and react with his instrument.
Hmm.... I would have to go the other way on this one. I would suggest you copy more. The more the better actually. You should learn so many licks that you can mix and match them, mash them together, pull them apart and put them together in a different order. I would agree that you should steal from as many players as you can find. Ever wonder where Jimi got his stuff? He didn't make it all up himself, he stole it from several different players and mixed it all up in his bag of tricks. Eventually all these things become second nature and you can stop thinking about them.
Next step - rather than using the same scale patterns, try some patterns that you are not that familiar with, this will force you to play some different things.
Well I agree with Chris that it’s vital to learn as many classic licks as possible, especially in blues where certain solo ideas & phrases have become almost essential knowledge, as if they were specific “tricks” that everyone “must” know (& not always easy to “perfect”, as distinct from merely “approximate”).
However, I think it’s important not just to learn those licks in isolation, but instead to learn them in context of what key they’re in, what scales they’re from, & what chords they’re being used against. That way you don’t just have a bunch of isolated licks, but instead you have a good idea of how & where those licks can be used in your own music/playing ...that will make it much easier to create your own variations & improvisations of those licks when jamming over various chords. Oh,...when I say "learn loads of licks", I don't mean just very short isolated pharses...learn complete songs note-for-note, you'll learn much more about blues licks that way.
I’m probably unusual in not rating Hendrix highly as a player (great writing though), but clearly most guys do rate Hendrix highly & if Lotus likes him then he’s in good company. However, Hendrix was not really a blues player, at least not on record. Yes, Red House is a blues number, & yes he certainly knew some blues classics like Killing Floor & Smokestack Lightning, but all his early recordings were solidly into the area of psychedelic rock.
In fact that mid 1960’s UK blues movement only lasted a year or two before transforming into psychedelic rock and progressive rock. Clapton himself went that way with Cream from late 66, ditto Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin etc. Fleetwood Mac were initially quite bluesy with Peter Green, but when he left they moved more towards “pop”. Jeff Beck only flirted very briefly with a purer blues approach, but by later 67-68 he was clearly moving into the jazzier fusion style that he still uses today. Nowadays you can of course find plenty of guys who’ve returned to blues styles, or else moved in jazzier forms of blues, and of course almost all rock, metal & shred etc. includes loads of blues licks (jazz too probably, though I’m no expert on that).
Lotus mentioned “repetition”, but in fact repetition is a vital element of music construction – without repetition your listeners will quickly become very confused about what you’re actually trying to do ... the usual thing to do is to use repetition with “variation” and with elements of “surprise”.
I’ve mentioned a “certain” record & it’s associated songbook/CD several times before lol…and obviously that would be my main source if I wanted to learn really solid electric blues stuff, but apart from that I also like Robben Ford’s jazzy style of blues, for which he a nice short instruction book inc.CD called simply “Blues For Guitar” (Hal Leonard)… and for a more in-depth look at the jazzier aspects of his style he has a neat DVD called “The Blues & Beyond” (not for beginners!…and pricey too lol!).
Last edited by Crossroads; 06-10-2007 at 06:26 PM.
Lots of good suggestions here, only one thing I would add:
When you go out and start copying every blues lick in sight (as you should), do it all by ear!!!
This is important. You have to train your ear. Someone mentioned that the reason Hendrix's playing always sounds original is because he had moved past playing licks and could "spontaneous create and react with his instrument." In other words, he had a very highly developed ear - any obscure lick or ****ed-up sound he heard in his head, he could instantly recreate with his guitar. This is the goal that you (and indeed all improvisers) should strive for. To achieve this, aside from learning tons of music by ear, the bottom half of this Tom Hess article lists many ways to train your ear - you should use them all. And especially do not neglect the exercises that involve singing. Singing is sort of the "big secret" behind developing your ear. Good luck and happy practicing .
Dub says something important here. I became a much better guitarist, or should I say musician when I started singing in my band. Singing really helped me connect to the instrument. When you think about it though it becomes obvious. The guitar has taken the forefront of music these days but in all reality it started out as an instrument for accompaniment. In other words, you played it so you could sing. Regardless, the ears and instrument have to work together and singing is a good way to get this to happen. Even if you have a lame voice, at least try playing your guitar and singing a bit. You may be surprised....
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