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Ear Training - Improvising and Melodic Sense

Richard Lundmark 307 lessons

Ok guys, in this part we will start to sing melodies over chords. There is no shame in having a less-than excellent singing voice, heck listen to my “strangling a wolverine in a coffee jar”-wavering voice, and you should feel just fine and dandy about your vocal proves =)

What we want to do here is to allow our ears to guide our playing, instead of theory and patterns. So how this works, is that you play any chord, and sing over it. Sing a 3-4 note melody, and then try to immediately afterward repeat what you just sang, on the guitar. This is a good exercise for opening up the fret board with your ear. Try this all over the neck, sing/repeat. Also, as in the video (horrible voice I know :D), I sing notes that are just a minor second (b2) away from another note, and hold that note there over the chord. In the case of F over a A minor chord the F clashes with the E, but is still a note within the A minor scale (b6), so it is still a very melodic interval and creates a very nice sound against the straight A minor chord. However, singing the Bb, or G# against the root A will prove more of a challenge for you, and will help your “outside” playing a whole lot.

I also think it is important that you play this kind of thing over backing tracks. Choose something slow and nice, like a Gilmore backing or something, and try to be as “vocal” in your playing as possible. Gilmore (and guys like Pink Floyd’s Knopfler) are both knows for the immensely "vocal" melodic sense. Sing, and repeat as you improvise, and then sing at the same time, letting your ear guide your playing. Don’t worry so much about what notes playing at this point, just close your eyes and go for it! The kind of playing you will be forced to do this way (seeing how you can only sing so fast, and have a limited range), will be such that is very appealing to the general listening public. The guys mentioned above are not the guitar gods they are for the pyrotechnical skills, but rather for the ability to stir the emotions of the audience. And, check it out, you WILL be able to sing almost all of their solos.

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