Improvisation: Rhythm

In this episode of my blog everything’s about movement … rhythm … flow … heartbeat … the pulse.

As a saxophonist (like me) you are the one to play the melody of a song … in most cases. When it comes to improvising on a song, the most important thing is to be able to play with the composition.

Before I start checking out the chords and trying to find a cool scale to use for my improvisation, I look at the melody very closely. I learn the song by heart and start improvising just with the tones of the melody.

After that I start shifting the rhythm: starting the melody from any other beat but the one it’s supposed to start on. This often takes me to playing some phrases and licks being similar to the written melody but not the very same as the melody.

What do I learn from that? I learn to play with the composition not only on the harmonies and changes and I hear where the changes take the song harmonically.

Of course you have to know what the rhythm and the groove of the song is about. You have to know what the accentuated beats are and … where’s the ONE?

If you don’t know and most importantly feel that, sing the rhythm of the song and clap the beat with your hands. You have to feel the pulse even without the band and a drummer (this includes play-alongs as well). You have to find and feel the beat without a metronome.

After you’re able to feel and play the above mentioned, just clap on the first beat in each bar or you can also play one note on one with your instrument using a metronome.

That’s what makes it also fun to practise with a metronome!

By doing these quite simple excercises it’ll be easy for you to play with a melody and improvise on a composition. That’s because you feel the rhythmical basis and you know and hear where harmonies lead you to.

Always keep in mind: there are no mistakes in playing some improvised music, there are only different ways to be taken!


For further and more detailed practising of the above mentionen I recommend you using my video & ebook 7Steps.