By taking a look at the semantics of “improvisation” we can deduct that improvisation means creating something new spontaneously and independently.
However, common practice shows that what we think of when speaking of bass improvisation is jamming with other musicians, or giving a certain song a jam-like feeling.
Improvisation should generally lead to more elegant, more sophisticated music – you should not improvise just for the sake of it, to show off your skills.
In order to be able to improvise, you need to have a very solid foundation of basic skills. That means you should develop your knowledge of drum rudiments and basic rhythm patterns to a level where you can play them from muscle memory.
Also, if you do not want to mess the jamming session or the whole song you are playing up, you should be able to keep time consistently. You can develop your sense of rhythm and time by practicing with a metronome and paying attention to your pace.
When you improvise you are breaking out of your daily bass practice routine. That means that you have a great responsibility for the flow of the song – when you are out of your comfort zone you are more likely to make a mistake, dragging the whole band with yourself. On the other hand, experience with improvisation will also develop your skills in return.
Improvisation takes a lot of curiosity; you have to forget your usual chops. My favorite phrase implies that improvisation, and bass playing in general, should always be fun: remember that you are not working the drums – you are playing them.
Approaching improvisation as something will playful will make it easier for you to try out new things. Even if I said previously that improvisation gives you a lot of responsibility, if you have developed the foundation needed, then you have nothing to worry about – trying out new things will only make your skills more advanced and will only broaden your perspective.
In the early stages of my bass playing career, there was a phase when I got stuck with improvising only blues shuffles with a single solo guitarist. After a while, my playing became monotonous and I could not develop myself because anything I tried to play had a shuffled feeling to it.
In order to make progress, you should find musicians with different instruments so that you will be able to work with different tone characters and different playing patterns. Also, for the same reasons, you should probably not stick to a single genre.
Your first improvisations will usually consist of bass fills chained together. That way, you will develop certain patterns that you will most likely repeat too often. These are like words that you say in every second sentence. By paying a little attention, you can identify these rhythmical motifs and find out why you are playing them so frequently.
Shaking up these motifs and finding a few alternations to them will richen your musical vocabulary. After a while your improvisation will accompany your music rather directly instead of just being just a series of bass licks fills. To achieve that, you have to learn to pay attention to your fellow musicians and make your adjustments to your patterns according to what they are playing.
#1 – Adding Chromatic Notes to Spice Up Your Playing
Having trouble improvising in your day to day music? First things first, the use of chromatic notes can easily be used to spice up a riff or song if done correctly. You can find out how in this article.
#2 – Walking Bass Lines – Things You Need to Know
What are walking bass lines? In essence, they are consistent quarter note melodies that you can apply to a song. The key point here is that you need to keep time accurately in order to pull it off.
#3 – Creative Bass Groove Creation to Get Out of the Box
What happens when you run out of ideas? I’m sure we all had been in a scenario like that before and if you haven’t, trust me it will come soon. In my experience, I personally find it hard to crawl out of the plateau and in this article, we will discuss some tips and advice you can use.
#4 – Writing Licks And Riffs – It Ain’t That Difficult
In order to develop your own style, you need to start writing your own licks and fills on the bass guitar. To many people, this might look seemingly impossible especially if you are new. However, with a strong foundation in theory and scales, it ain’t so hard with some practice.
#5 – Constructing a Walking Bass Line in a Few Easy Steps
Not only are walking bass lines fun and easy to play, they can really make a piece of jazz/blues music flow. In this article, we touch on some essential stuff you need to know in making your own bass lines.
#6 – Octave Playing Exercises – Alternatives to Being Creative
If you get hung up on ideas for your bass creativity, playing octaves are a great way to add more depth and variation to your music without too much difficulty.
#7 – Tips to Improve Your Improvisation And Performing Impromptu Skills
Learning to improvise isn’t hard. However, getting better at improvising and learning to play impromptu isn’t straightforward. In fact, it isn’t something that can be done without practice.
#8 – Parts of a Song That Are Suitable for Bass Improvising
Have you heard bass solos that sound wrong or simply out of place? Well, this is a common issue that you can avoid with some common sense. In this article, we will discuss where a solo would be most suitable in a song and where you could find opportunities to shine.
#9 – How to Improvise With Riffs And Jam Along to Songs
Improvising with riffs is a skill that most bassists can easily pick up when jamming along to songs. By sitting down and taking the time to write music, you can improve your skills as well as your overall understanding of music harmony.
#10 – How to Get Ideas For Creativity And Find Inspiration
Do you often get stuck in a rut when it comes to getting creative ideas for improvisation or solos? Well, you are not alone. Read this article to find out how you can break away from the norm and get creative.
#11 – Improvising in Minor Keys And Sound Like a Professional Even If You Are Not
Contrary to popular belief that improvisation skills require a bout of talent and that magical feel, the truth is that with a good framework in music theory and rules, you too can improvise freely.