Arts & Entertainment, Music


Tom Morello

Lesson time 08:35 min

Learn how to get lost in the music, experiment, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone with Tom’s techniques for becoming a more nimble improviser.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Forget Technique • Feel the Music, Please the Ear • Add Some Pedals and Technique • Mine Your Jams for Ideas • Incorporate Your Sonic Palette • Jam Heedlessly • Improvise With Others • Jam to the Radio • Go Forth and Improvise


Improvisation should be fearless. There are never any points off for making any mistake. So whether you're jamming along with a song, you know, at your computer, on a record player, or playing with other musicians, I would just say that is-- should be-- it's, you know-- it's like free time at recess-- improvisation. You know, there are other times where you're in the studio, and the clock is running, and a mic's on your amp, where you've got to get it right. Improvisation is not one of those times. It should really be a time that should just be fun to experiment with new things, to try things that are artistically unsafe and without a net, because there's nothing at stake other than you growing as an artist and as a guitar player. [MUSIC PLAYING] Improvisation can open up your mind to sonic ideas, riffs, and licks that you might not think up if you were just sitting down trying to do so. The idea is to get lost in the music when you improvise. And whatever your level of technique is, it's to use that level of technique, forget about the technique, and just let the music envelop you and flow freely in it. I think a lot of-- some of the most successful improv music is where you're heedless of mistakes, where you just get lost in the music, and you'll find there can be great results that stem from that. [MUSIC PLAYING] I tend to not listen back too carefully to my improv stuff, unless there's a moment or a spark, where I go, like, that was the one. I'll give you-- I'll give you a distinct example. On the "Atlas Underground" record, Gary Clark Jr. came over to my house, and we jammed. We did nothing but improv for hours with the tape-- with the tape player rolling. We rocked. We-- he sang. I sang. We threw lyrics back and forth. We stood there, heads on the guitar, playing blues licks and shredding licks at one another, and that was free form pure improvisation. Then Gary went away. I listened to the stuff, picked out juicy bits of our guitar playing, juicy bits of the lyrics in his incredible vocals, and we forged a song on the "Atlas Underground" record called, "Where It's At Ain't What It Is" that doesn't resemble the blues jam that we originally were on, but it provided the seeds for a really great powerful song that came out later. So that's certainly one of the benefits of jamming is to listen back to it, find the golden nuggets within an improvisation, and to make songs out of them or store them later for your own soloing self. [MUSIC PLAYING] Sometimes I improvise for fun. Sometimes it's to practice. Sometimes it's to write. But all of those can cross over very, very easily. I can pick up a guitar in my studio, just sort of killing time, or I'm on-- I'm on the phone, and all of a sudden, a hot lick or riff will come up, and I'll record it right away. Other times, I'll be practicing with friends in a jamming context, and it'll spark an idea, where I'll say, stop the presses, and this will be something that, you know...

About the Instructor

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Tom Morello

In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.

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