Connor's Corner: slow blues in G
For this track, Connor is jamming out on a 12 bar blues in G. What's a 12 bar blues? It's the same simple chords coming around and around again in a 12 bar pattern and it's a great place to play around and try singing some scat horn lines or words and try making up some melodies and rhythms on the spot.
If you’ve already improvised a bunch and you just want to get in there and try some new stuff…. have at ‘er!
If you’re newer to improvisation I know it can seem intimidating as first, like that blank page in a new journal or a dance floor with no dancers on it yet… How do I start? How will I know what notes to sing?
Try this: try singing along with this track and just choosing one note (one pitch) to sing. You can choose whichever pitch you like and then sing whatever you want with that one note. Try playing with different vowels and consonants, experiment with your tone, dig into rhythm and groove. What kinds of sounds and textures can your voice make? Louder, quieter, harder, softer… we have so much vocal range even if just one note. With the 12 bar blues, almost any note you pick will work over all 3 chords. But as you sing a note and the chord changes under you, the character of how that note feels and sounds will shift a bit. Which is really cool I think!
Ok, by now you’re going crazy (maybe that took all of 20 seconds for you or maybe a minute or two)! Ok, now try the same experiment but with 2 notes… you’re allowed 2 different pitches…. woo!
Yup, that gets tired pretty quickly too. If you want to jump straight to singing any and all notes, got for it. Or feel free to keep incrementally adding notes. Or, you might want to go back to singing just on one pitch again but try a different one than last time. You can try singing over this track in many ways, you can try using just one vowel at the time, or look around in your desk or purse or kitchen for some words printed somewhere and try singing them over top… fun!
Basically, like with anything that feels possible intimidating or overwhelming, we want to break it down into smaller parts that seem almost too easy. Like, if someone said to me, “bake a souffle”, I’d say, “pardon me?” hahaha. But if someone said, “measure out one cup of flour”, well, I’d be all over that!
And here’s some random scat syllables you can try, you know, for maybe the second time singing through this track (I’m literally going to press play, and scat along with Connor’s track and then write as I sing…. haha… weeeee):
bu dut bu du du bu dut bu du du bu dee bu dee bu dee
bway-ooo-det bway-ooo-det det det det det
bu dut du dut doo dut bu dut du dut doo dut
boo dut boo boo dut boo boot boo boot-t-t booooo-weee-eeee oooo-weeeee oooo-weeee
ba dut dut duh dayyyyy bu dut duuuhhhh
Oh snap, I forgot to talk about space. Feel free to leave as much space as you want, always. It’s one of my favourite parts of music and improvisation and singing. The space between the notes is so beautiful. But for goodness sake don’t think in the space, try not to let the bossy brain step in and start running the show…. try to just breath and feel in the space between notes. and then sing your next phrase when you’re good and ready!
It took me the full 2:43 to get through those scat syllables I have typed up there. That doesn’t mean that more notes is wrong, I just mean, take all the space and time you want, and each sing through might feel a little different. Once you’re getting the hang of it, you could also try making it through all those scat syllables up there twice in the 2:43…. oooo… spicy!
oooo…. and also try a time through the 2:43 doing all melty long swooopy notes…. oooo’s, mmmm’s, ooh’s, whoa’s, iiiiiiii-eeeeee…. oooooh!
Ok, I’m done. :) Coco
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