The video at the bottom of the page is what this post is all about. You can skip straight down there right now if you want! If you’re not in a place where you can watch the video with volume, I have some great info below, but I haven’t included sub titles, or a transcription of the video itself because this type of tutorial really requires you to hear the audio. So save that video for later, and I hope you enjoy!

Meanwhile, let’s chat about improv. 

RIFFS, RUNS, & IMPROVS!

Vocal improvisation is found mostly in jazz, soul, r&b, pop, (mostly contemporary) musical theatre, and gospel music, and can be intimidating for those who have little to no experience. Improvising by definition means to “create and perform spontaneously without preparation”, but of course, much preparation is required in developing the ability to do so! As with any skill, the more you practice and learn, the easier it will be to access your skills on the spot when necessary–But where to begin??

EAR TRAINING

Ear training means what it sounds like–it refers to exercises that develop the accuracy of your ear in regards to pitch, harmony, and chord progression movement. I’ll go into this more next week, but for today’s lesson, ear training refers specifically to identifying the pitches, then the rhythms, in Tori Kelly’s run. 

I recommend learning as many runs as you can! Don’t get too crazy and improvise on your own just yet. Learn the runs exactly as they are, so you can train your ear to hear it, and your tongue to do it. Eventually, you can add your own spin, but the purpose is to expand your range and add variety to your work! You’ll hear in the video tutorial at some point I add a note, and you know, it still sounds good, but the purpose of the exercise is to train myself to do something that’s NOT in my comfort zone!

DEFINITIONS: RIFF VS. RUN

Many people (myself included) refer to riffs and runs interchangeably, however instrumentalists refer to a “riff” as a part of the music’s melody, usually one that’s repeated and recognizeable in the song, while a “run” is mostly known as being a vocal embelishment where the voice improvises to add style. A run is usually sung on one syllable, moving through the scale with great articulation. I’m not finding many firm definitions other than those provided by other educators, which leads me to believe these terms are mostly understood, but maybe not defined in an official capacity. [Feel free to comment if you have more information on this!]

Now without further adieu, learn this run with me!!

Here's the Alicia Keys run I use in the video!

by Alicia Keys | Songs In A Minor

March is #RiffsRunsImprov Month!

Week 1: Learn a Tori Kelly run!

Week 2: Learn the signature run from “Fallin” by Alicia Keys (That’s this week, you’re here already!)

Week 3: Harmony! Part 1 – intro to singing harmony!

Week 4: Harmony Part 2 – Learn 3 part harmony using Lady Gaga’s hit song “Million Reasons”

For Weekly #TipTuesday's

Tune in for next week’s #TipTuesday,¬†for more tutorials for #riffsrunsimprov month! If you have any requests for runs or anything else you want to learn, comment below!

MORE HELPFUL INFO!

Q: WHAT PROGRAM DO YOU USE TO SLOW THE SPEED?

A: I use Audacity!

It’s simple recording and edity software that’s FREE, and for what I need, it gets the job done!

There are lots of youtube tutorials for how to use Audacity, but to slow down the tempo of an mp3, you’ll want to 1. import the track (just drag and drop it into the terminal),

2. highlight the area you want to slow,

3. click “Effect” in the menu at the top,

4. and then click “Change TEMPO” from the drop down menu. Make sure you DON’T use “change speed”. This will warp the pitch as you move the tempos around.

5. Finally, to make the tempo slower, use numbers like -10.0, or -20.0. You will have to play around with the numbers to achieve the desired tempo change. 

The only tricky issue I’ve had with audacity is that the base program you download does not allow you to save your recording as an mp3. You can save it to a .wav file, but those are very large, and if you want to email it, it might be too big. To save to an mp3 in audacity, for windows and mac you’ll need the LAME MP3 encoder

This tutorial will walk you through how to install this mp3 encoder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aL7e6fpCfI

Once you’re all set there, you can now save to an mp3 by selecting “File” in the menu, and then “Export Audio”.