Saxophone Forum


by tmgaus51
(16 posts)
9 years ago

Developing a motif in improvised solos

During one of my sax lessons, when I was improvising, my teacher told me that I should improvise using a motif, and then develop the rest of my solo off of that motif. I already knew that this was necessary, but I almost didn't realise that I was just playing a bunch of random and scattered ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions as to developing a theme to begin a solo with, because it seems that in my solos, I usually just mess around with the root and the fifth of the chord, without really developing a catchy melody or motif. Thanks for any help.

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  1. by Lotus54
    (32 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

    Listen to some Sonny Rollins- he would take any idea and work it over and over. Coltrane did a lot of the same, but perhaps a bit farther reaching. Listen to the others, and maybe even take an idea from a previous soloist- then change it, move it around, come back to it. I get tons of ideas from a good drummer, but I always seem to have a lot of ideas in my head. Here is something to try. While at home by yourself, find a fairly short melody, riff, whatever. Then start gradually modifing that with different rythms, dynamics, keys/chords, whatever you can try. Maybe come back a bit cloeser sometimes. I don't think about the chords much anymore, I just listen. I started out that way, then had to learn a bunch, but now I can hear it well enough I don't really have to worry about it. But perhaps I'm not the best one to listen to. I find the solos I like the best are ones that keep moving, working with what the other band members are doing and never returning back until the finish. I like the whole group to improvise together, not just one person while the others bang away at the same old thing. mark

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  2. by vipegrad
    (47 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

    If you are improvising over something, listen to what the others are playing. You can create a basic theme for your solo by listening to the backrounds and blending a melody with what the others are playing. I hope this helps.

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    1. by RoYrOy
      (51 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

      Maybe this sounds ignorant or not, u tell me. But I just practice different soloing techniques in my house, and when the gig comes, I just feel it....

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    2. by RoYrOy
      (51 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

      Maybe this sounds ignorant or not, u tell me. But I just practice different soloing techniques in my house, and when the gig comes, I just feel it....

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      1. by vipegrad
        (47 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

        sorry for my first post, that probobly didnt help at all, shouldnt be posting so late at night. What i was kind of going for is basically what roy was saying. While at home get some ideas and notes under your fingers so that when you get there you can listen to what is around you and it will be very natural to you, i hope that helps more than my first post.

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        1. by RoYrOy
          (51 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

          What I said was about improvising per se, but I wanted to talk about improvising through motifs, let me see if im on the same page, improvising with motifs is like taking an idea, say a riff or a simple melody and adorning it, changing it's rithm, tone, to make it into a solo? Like a melodic improv?

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      2. by jamterry
        (573 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

        A motif is a recurring theme. There is a point where you take off and a landing point. The song has a chord progression and theme, When you take your solo through the path of the song, you have to bring it back home so the song can start on it's path again.

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        1. by jamterry
          (573 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

          Your teacher is telling you not to leave the song in the dust. Example: I'm riding on a butterfly's back. I am flying all over, but I am attached to something (song theme). OK, i take a solo and bring it back home, Pehaps one of the guys nods to me, or else says take it again. I will play a different solo within the song theme and always bring it home.

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          1. by tmgaus51
            (16 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

            Yes, I do understand the point and intent of developing a theme and sticking to it, so it feels like you're following the song's progression, and not just off somewhere in the clouds. What I was really asking, (which RoYrOy really seemed to get at through his description of how he creates themes and ideas at home and then just lets it fly during his solo) was how, with the pressure of having to deliver an improvised solo, do you create a theme on the spot? I really have no problem working off of that theme and taking it further; my problem lies in just developing a set of notes or a melody that my solo can or will repeatedly come back to. Thanks for your responses.

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            1. by RoYrOy
              (51 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Developing a motif in improvised solos

              At least my opinion is that sometimes themic solos are better than just throwing notes in the air, because you keep the essence of the song, of the chord progression. A way that I practice this is just playing the chords of the progression, I take a song, and I play each chord change, then when the structure of the song ends, I play the chord change but I adorn it a bit more. Little by little you will see that you'll work your ear out, and become familiar with the changes to the point that melodic/themic soloing will come naturally for that song. You also have to pay attention to dynamics, volume, projection etc, that helps to develop a rising action, climax, and dissipation to your solo, but hey! Music is personal so do what you think is right. I just love to express opinions and know yours Thanks!

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