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

Autofocused

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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?
Yes! The time I was struggling for weeks with Travis Picking. I was around 15 years old at the time, but in the middle of the night, around 330am or so, I was awaken by a slowed-down version of the basic picking method. I got up, grabbed my guitar and started to play what I had been hearing in my head. I kept getting faster and faster and before you know it, I was sounding like Paul Simon (not really) until my mother came to my room to yell at me that the rest of the house was still trying to sleep!
 

thankyouguitar

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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?
All the time!
 

OhioTennMac

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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?
IDK UR age group, but for those of us “of a certain age” let’s say vintage ‘60’s pop era, will find your surprised reaction to enjoying “California Dreaming” humorous. It’s a delightful tune, and has been covered by many, besides the original by the “Mamas and Papas” I enjoy José Feliciano’s version.
 

telemnemonics

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Sure, all the time.
But not entire songs, just melody fragments and only if they are similar to and compatible with what I’m playing.
 

telemnemonics

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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.
Well the audience is informative too and you can kinda tell by their mood, what they may tolerate and even enjoy.

If a bunch of execs are having a dinner meeting going over a confrontational merger agreement, that may not be the time to quote woody woodpecker.

If a bunch of people are generally happy and laughing and the room feels open, then some humor should fly?

Or maybe I’m way off and the merger meeting really needs some cartoons?
 

Stratocast

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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?
I used to find myself hammering out Star Spangled Banner ala Hendrix. At band practice. Tremolo effects included.
 

Spooky88

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improvising and when I want to “wake” the group up I’m playing with. I tend to use Cartoon Melodies on my guitar or Nintendo background music when I’m playing keys.
 

Stratocast

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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?
Another tune I would somehow pick out would be Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. So much so That I was messing with it in between sets at a gig years ago. And the crowd starting getting into it. A couple of people came up on stage and tried singing the lyrics. Ironically. The rest of my band. Really did not get into the song so we never added it to our set list
 

Stratocast

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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?
Another rambling song I would mess with was sweet emotion. Aerosmith. I would mess with it at rehearsal between songs while we were taking a break. And the rest of the band started playing along For being a mess with song. It came out pretty good for a not serious song of our band.
 

telemnemonics

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I used to find myself hammering out Star Spangled Banner ala Hendrix. At band practice. Tremolo effects included.

Another tune I would somehow pick out would be Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. So much so That I was messing with it in between sets at a gig years ago. And the crowd starting getting into it. A couple of people came up on stage and tried singing the lyrics. Ironically. The rest of my band. Really did not get into the song so we never added it to our set list
So, how many personalities do you have?
Can you control which one comes out when?
 

0SubSeanik0

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Yep, absolutely! When (attempting to) improvise or riff on chord progressions, I often get pulled in the direction of a song I either already know or have heard at some point. All it takes is a two notes/chords to trigger it, and I'm not particularly good at immediately recognizing it, either, lol... often getting caught when I play it for someone, and getting a response like "that's an interesting version of [bla bla bla]." It's true there's nothing new under the sun, but man is it hard not to blatantly rip someone off!
 

Stratocast

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So, how many personalities do you have?
Can you control which one comes out when?
Can’t really control them. I think it is because I love a wide variety of music. And sadly many fellow band mates are not into the same songs I like. Occasionally I get lucky and throw a song out there that bands I have been in like and we start playing in gigs with but more times than not I think it’s my inner self trying to be heard. The other side to that is …songs that I used to love like draggin the line by tommy James and the shondells after playing in 2 different bands week after week. I don’t care if I ever hear or play that song ever again. Between the 3 bands I’ve been in in the last 20 years or so I’ve played hundreds of different songs onstage from the 60’s to the 90’s and beyond.
 

jescoelvis

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There might be an inner jazz snob inside you looking to undermine your love of music, kick that jerk to curb and never look back!
 

Stratocast

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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
Ha. Our band played both of those songs as a medley. Out gigging.
 

jescoelvis

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And, don't forget, almost every jazz "standard" that is overdone ad infinitum out of the Real Book was at one time just the disposable pop or show tune music of its day. The changes, melody and recording of California Dreamin' are just as valid as a standard as Night and Day.
 

telemnemonics

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And, don't forget, almost every jazz "standard" that is overdone ad infinitum out of the Real Book was at one time just the disposable pop or show tune music of its day. The changes, melody and recording of California Dreamin' are just as valid as a standard as Night and Day.
What, so, girls just wanna have fun?
 

Stratocast

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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.
In edition to what you were saying. I think sometimes when we did like party gigs with no pay in between sets. Sometimes messing with a toon loosely comes off as being a show off. Especially if it was a song in our set list already.
 




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