[Harp-L] Jazz Imnprovisising on the chromatic

Slim Heilpern slim@xxxxx
Mon Jan 22 10:13:04 EST 2018

Hi Jerl -

I?m afraid there?s no simple answer to your question, but here?s my 2 or 3 cents:

What you?re asking, for the most part, has little to do with what kind of axe you?re playing (harmonica or otherwise) beyond being able to play that instrument chromatically. If you already know how to improvise over a blues or country chord progression, then you can think of improvising over jazz as a considerably more complex version of the same thing. I say more complex partially because of the chord structure on many jazz tunes and also because the music has evolved relatively quickly from its beginnings over the last century and encompasses a very wide range of influences, styles, and approaches. 

Jazz improvisation comes more quickly to some than others (I?m in the ?others? category, been working at it for many years and I still feel like a beginner). For most of us it requires a lot of diligence and patience to make any real progress (I myself am good on patience, less so on diligence).

There are many approaches, but I would say the first thing is to make sure you?re well versed in whatever music you?re trying to play. Just like any style of music you're trying to learn, you need to be a good listener and appreciator of that style if you?re going to be convincing when you play it. Dixieland jazz is the foundation that other styles of jazz sit on, so it?s not a bad place to start. Listen to Louis Armstrong and pay attention to the _way_ he plays the melody (phrasing) as well as the content of his solos and the way he plays them. That?s probably as good a place to start as any. 

Most people can improvise more easily singing, humming, or whistling than we can on our instruments, so it can be helpful to try to improvise this way and then try to emulate what you did on your instrument. 

In parallel with that, I would suggest a course in music theory (if you need to, start with basic music theory before moving on to jazz theory). To play reasonably well, you?re going to have to learn that either by osmosis or by studying it and a bit of study can accelerate the learning process.

And then there?s learning the various scales and arpeggios in all keys, also really important. Sounds like drudgery, but it can be fun and I?m convinced it improves brain function ;-).

I hope this helps even just a little bit!

- Slim

http://slimandpenny <http://slimandpenny/>.com

> On Jan 21, 2018, at 12:34 PM, JERL WELCH <dfwhoot at xxxxx> wrote:
> Learning to perform melodies on jazz tunes is not that difficult , with a little practice and talent , but to improvise beyond is another process that I'm having problems with properly. Any suggestions out there from some of you jazz chromatic players. I know that to play a jazz tune , one starts with the head, then improvise , then head and out.I would like to know for myself , plus to share with our monthly harmonica meetings, HOOT. 
> Thanks, Jerl Welch
> |  | Virus-free. www.avg.com  |

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