Do random songs ever pop in to your head when improvising?

Jazzcaster21

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I love playing my guitar, improvising over a wide array of tunes, and being in the zone or flow state. It's what I strive for all the time (either on or off a gig) when I am not practicing a specific concept.

Yesterday, while doing my best Bill Frisell with Telecaster impersonation I could, playing through a few tunes, I found myself playing with the beginning melody of "California Dreamin" by the Mamas and Papas. I was never a fan of this band, or this tune - although George Benson did a pretty awesome cover of it. After fooling around with the beginning motif for a while and basically figuring out the melody, I listened to the recording to see how accurate I was and figure out the changes. I was a major third off for the key and didn't have the melody exactly right but no matter. After really listening to it a few times I figured out what a cool song it was for both the harmony (chords) and the vocal harmony.

I am guess what I am getting at, is how does something like this happen? Meaning, what would have triggered this in my subconscious to come out? Like I said,I have heard the song enough but, there are TONS of other tunes that I could pick out (no pun intended) on the guitar just using my inner ear and long term memory, and I have. I just find it odd that a song that I don't really count as a favorite would just appear out of nowhere.

Has this happened to anyone else?
 

421JAM

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Of course. To me, this seems like the most natural thing in the world, and one of the most enjoyable things about playing music. But like all things that are enjoyable, too much of it turns into a bad thing. We’ve probably all heard soloists or improvisers who throw too many melodic quotes from other songs into their solos, and it can get to be gimmicky and corny when overdone.
 

Chiogtr4x

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It happens with me from time to time, a snippet of another song's melody pops into my head while playing a break on a jam.
( our band/s solo alot, on songs that maybe originally, don't have breaks, so already may be pushing it...)
It's fun when spontaneous, but I have to watch to not 'insert___' into a song every time that part comes around.
But sometimes it's just a 'musical joke' between bandmates - to amuse us
 

StoneH

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I wrote a backing track (two guitars fingerpicked). While noodling on the electric, "Born to be Wild" popped out (it wasn't in my head). I had to stop immediately so it wouldn't turn into an ear worm.
 

BramptonRob1958

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Happens all the time!

Sometimes, it's just a sequence we're trying to play on a song and our brain (amazing) takes us off into a totally different direction.......

I was playing Twist and Shout one day and ended up playing La Bamba......

I often find myself playing songs or riffs just out of the blue with no intention of sitting down to play said song.....

It also happens differently and can be dependant on the guitar I have in my hands at the time...I have a Gretsch G5422G-12 (12 String) and outs of the blue I ended playing Byrds songs that I've never played before but grew up loving......

So yes, you are not alone......lol
 

Old Verle Miller

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I love playing my guitar, improvising over a wide array of tunes, and being in the zone or flow state. It's what I strive for all the time (either on or off a gig) when I am not practicing a specific concept.

Yesterday, while doing my best Bill Frisell with Telecaster impersonation I could, playing through a few tunes, I found myself playing with the beginning melody of "California Dreamin" by the Mamas and Papas. I was never a fan of this band, or this tune - although George Benson did a pretty awesome cover of it. After fooling around with the beginning motif for a while and basically figuring out the melody, I listened to the recording to see how accurate I was and figure out the changes. I was a major third off for the key and didn't have the melody exactly right but no matter. After really listening to it a few times I figured out what a cool song it was for both the harmony (chords) and the vocal harmony.

I am guess what I am getting at, is how does something like this happen? Meaning, what would have triggered this in my subconscious to come out? Like I said,I have heard the song enough but, there are TONS of other tunes that I could pick out (no pun intended) on the guitar just using my inner ear and long term memory, and I have. I just find it odd that a song that I don't really count as a favorite would just appear out of nowhere.

Has this happened to anyone else?
Dude - music is like taking a sip of water out of a fire hydrant. When you get as old as me you mash some of the weirdest things imaginable and wonder the exact same thing every damn day.
Experiences trigger all kinds of odd results. I've written songs based on practically random phrases. Some of them fall in with snippets of past tunes and chord patterns.
Not much is entirely new and unique, unless you're on the level of a Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Sturgill Simpson or Sir Elton John.
Ain't life grand?
 

brookdalebill

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I do the occasional silly quote.
Some of my employers find it amusing.
Some others don’t.
I have learned to be judicious about that.
 

arlum

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I too have found that to happen. I don't think of it as a theft or whatever. I like to think of it as an acknowledgement of the positive impression the work of someone else has had on my playing. A true influence. Someone who's work has embedded itself on my soul. I would never claim credit. I would always admit to the influence. Yet .... I would never quit using it. I'm obviously infatuated with it. As long as I give credit where credit is do I'm happy to please the listeners to the best of my ability.
 

bowman

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Not exactly the same thing, but I mentally riff on melodies all day long. I always have music running in my mind in the background of my regular day. I'll be humming a tune, or piece of a tune, and I automatically start to riff on the part. Before my brain goes on to the next tune, the riff may be completely different than what I started with, but it still fits into the song it came from. That is also how I write solos to my own songs. I'll record the original idea, then let it germinate for a couple of days and record what it's morphed into in my head. Sometimes it's no better, but sometimes it is.
 

Frank Entele

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As to the ‘how does this happen’? Guitar players are all music lovers. Regardless of age, we’ve been listening to music all of our lives. All kinds. Every day. And ‘it’s all been done before’ means a Death Metal tune can remind me of a Steely Dan riff or an Old Hank song when I’m standing on a ladder cleaning windows!

I remember our Jr. High chorus covered this song way back. I still remember the words.
 

nedray

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Quite ordinary in my experience. It gets annoying when the tune that pops out is something obnoxious like a TV commercial jingle. Then it gets stuck in my head and won't go away for a while. Yuck.
 

heathststudios

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I've been doing a "metallica" meets the mamas and papas version that rocks for years! How about "nights on broadway" and " to love somebody" by the Bee Gees. I never liked them either then I heard stripped down versions on an unplugged show and I took it to the next level as I have no horns or synths aroound ( usually) so we rock it up. Lots of odd songs that I have played out and people went wild.
 

Buell

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That's what makes music so grand. I have never tried to emulate or copy anyone else's stuff, but when I listen back to one of my recordings I can hear the influences of my past somewhere in them.
 

Oxidao

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It is cool when playing your thing, hearing a known song. First thing I think is: “I’m not doing that bad”
Last time it happened to me (don’t remember the song), I tryed not to follow that song, but getting an step back looking for my own.
I almost never use other's music for my daily practice, and if I do (to learn a new ‘trick’) it soon develops to a different thing of my own.

My case might be different from the tipycal here.
Decades of heavy listening followed with just the last 3 years of heavy playing.
A lot of music in my head, and almost everyday learning something in my playing.
 

bluesfordan

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guess I'm not the only one. I find stuff popping into my head all the time when I'm playing, I just wish I knew what it was from 🤔
 




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