Tips for improvisation

Just hammerers

Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby cboody » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:24 am

Sorry. Wrong topic. Removed.
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby The Mousetrapezoid » Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:17 pm

'Sokay, cboody. I'm glad you posted and updated this topic to bring it to Page 1 of the discussion board, where I saw the topic for the first time. There's so much great info here!!

(This is my 100th post -- I'm a "Senior Member" now! Hooray!!) :D :D :D
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby Rick » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:54 pm

Such an important topic that deserves to come to the head of the class once again. To turn the question around, just for fun, can anyone think of any tunes that stand just fine on their own without any embellishing - by just playing the melody? Now that I think of it, I don't think there are any. Every tune, in my humble opinion, needs some embellishment, no?

Curious to also see if the participants with such good input in 2010 are still around. And whether they have any updates.
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby cboody » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:20 am

Rick wrote:Such an important topic that deserves to come to the head of the class once again. To turn the question around, just for fun, can anyone think of any tunes that stand just fine on their own without any embellishing - by just playing the melody? Now that I think of it, I don't think there are any. Every tune, in my humble opinion, needs some embellishment, no?

Curious to also see if the participants with such good input in 2010 are still around. And whether they have any updates.


The answer is yes, but it really depends on what kinds of tunes you are talking about and the circumstances of performance. Listen to Stephen Seifert's version of Southwind. There's scarcely anything added to the melody except an occasional harmony note and the result is entrancing. On the other hand, no good player of Irish Trad Music would do a slow air without quite a bit of ornamentation, tempo changes, and passing notes of various sorts. Still, I have heard fine performances of many slow tunes without much if anything other than the melody played by HD, fiddle, whistle and flute. If the player gets inside the tune it will happen. In the jazz world, or the bluegrass world, or some other traditional worlds passing the lead is practiced and each player improvises on the tune or chord structure. Simply playing the melody would be out of place there.

And yes, I'm still here!
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby Sharon Gartley » Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm still around, but haven't been on here much. Thanks for bringing this thread back to life! I have made progress since I first posted my question, but need to revisit all the great advice given here and keep moving forward.

Sharon
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby Dick Hauser » Mon Dec 02, 2013 12:23 pm

The thing that helps me most, is having the basic musical notation for a tune, and graduated more advanced versions of the basic notation. I compare several measures in each version, and see what changes have been made to the melody. In her book "Hammered Dulcimer Notebook", L.L. Thompson has 7 version of the commonly played tune "Buffalo Gals".

I especially like Richard Alan Young's "Intermediate Hammered Dulcimer - Technique and Theory". If you can read musical notation and understand basic music theory (i.e. scale theory, chord theory, etc.), this book is especially good. It has a small chapter on improvisation and licks. This book helps me apply music techniques I have used on other instruments to the hammered dulcimer. Unfortunately, no DVD or CD is available with the book. I sometime enter notation found in this book into my computer using "Printmusic Software". Like I said, I can read musical notation, but I like to compare the notation I am reading against the music itself. I lets me "spot" any errors on my part. In addition, I get a better feeling for the individual phrases and "feel" for a tune.

Don't just use material written for the HD. The source for most of my tunes is my large library of fiddle repertoire books. Rearranging this fiddle notation for the HD provides good training on improvisation. Richard Alan Young's book provides information on adapting musical notation to the HD, and how to apply the techniques. His book goes into more detail than the other books in my growing HD book library. I keep looking for the book "Striking out and Winnng", but It is out of print, and I am not going to pay $100 + for a book I have never had a chance to review.

I use "The Amazing Slow Downer" software to listen to tunes. I can change tempo and pitch. I play along with slowed down versions of tunes. When I hear something I like, I figure out how it is played, and modify the original melody I was using. Doing this is educational and provides variations for tunes.

Listen to other instruments, and like I said earlier, read notation written for other instruments. I use fiddle notation all the time. Certain 4 note musical note progressions are very common. Start practicing these 4 note progressions, and insert them for notes of a longer duration. Altering note duration and using ornaments are the easiest way to change part of a tune. For example, play a triplet for two notes, play a quarter note for two 8th notes, etc., etc. Young discusses doing this in his book.

I haven't been playing HD long. Young's book has taught me a lot. This book IS NOT a repertoire book. It explains how to create and play music on the HD. There are a couple of chapters in the front of the book explaining how to read simple musical notation.

Well, good luck.
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Re: Tips for improvisation

Postby Camperted » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:43 pm

Any new ideas on "Tips for Improvisation?" This has been an excellent thread!

I picked a good book at Evart called "Hammered Dulcimer Embellishment of Beginners" by Darlene Hackett. It is still available on EBAY.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hammered-Dulci ... 0752.m1982
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