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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
30 Day Challenge
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Cello Lessons: Bluegrass Improvisation: Looping a Phrase & Creating Variations

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One of the really helpful ways to practice
improvising in bluegrass is
to not play the whole tune,
but just focus on one phrase.
Like one chunk of chords and
just keep trying to come up with endless
variations around the melodic guide tones.
So for
the opening of Whiskey Before Breakfast,
I'll take just that much, and
I'm gonna play the melodic
phrase a few times.
And then I'm really gonna try and
see all the small subtle ways that
I can vary just this short phrase.
Play that a couple of
time just get in the vibe.
You can
start to stray
further and
further from
the core pitches,
but really you
don't need
to do much.
It's a really small moment,
and you just wanna feel comfortable with
adding these little subtle variations.
Let's take the next phrase with a little,
you know, faster chord progression.
It gives you a lot more to
sort of stay structured with.
So the next part of the melody,
is that little walk down sequence.
So I would say that
the melodic guide tones
is just G, F sharp, E, E.
With those four melodic guide tones,
I'll play the melody a couple times, and
then I'll start improvising my own
patterns that connect this downward scale.
Yeah, so
I was getting off
it at the end,
but you see that
there's just
like endless
possibilities with
just a really
small phrase.
And so put on a metronome at
a tempo that feels comfortable, and
just kind of keep yourself
honest rhythmically, and
go like a few minutes just
on a short phrase like this.
And you can break down each of
the phrases of the tune separately.
And then when you start to put them
back together, you're just gonna feel so
comfortable and
at home at every turn when improvising.
And so this is a really helpful way
to start to feel more comfortable.