Friday, July 01, 2005

Ear

I’ve been continuing my work on my ear exercises. Lately I’ve been using my delay pedal and my loop station as a challenge for me ears and creativity. First I start by playing a chord or a quick melody on the delay pedal and loop it. The delay pedal only has a 5 second loop so it’s not a very long vamp. I make the effort to put my fingers in strange positions and not to look at the neck so I don’t know exactly what I’m playing. While still not looking, I use my ears to choose notes the notes to play and improvise over the loop. Then after a while, I look down and see what key I’m in and then come up with a chord progression that works with the first loop. The first loop then usually serves as one bar of music and I use it as an ostinato over the chord progression. I put the chord progression (along with the ostinato) into the loop station and then improvise of this new structure. My improv ideas then take shape from my ear and/or the harmonic progression. It’s an exciting exercise and a fun use of my effects pedals.

Other times I’ll use a drone to improvise over, again using my ears, and make decisions on what tonality to create and/or whether the drone is the tonic or another note (sometimes the drone would unintentionally be the 5 for some of the exercises).

I also took a little time and worked playing off triads and trying to find the chord tones by ear. This what harder sometimes. Harder than I thought.

It’s been an interesting past couple weeks. Truthfully, I’m a little overwhelmed on the shift in perspective that I’ve made for improvising. The ability and skill of playing by ear is one that is incredibly simple and immense. It’s an amazing thing to think that just hearing or singing what you want to play can be such a profound, valid and important way to improvise. It makes a lot of sense in my understanding of the music I listen to and I’m a little curious on how it’s affected me. I’ve been working in different direction for so long that I’m surprised with this perspective because this is where I started, and frankly, was very good at it when I was doing. It’s like a profound shake in my belief system.

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