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How to Solo/take a Lead Break

Joe Offer 21 Feb 15 - 09:54 PM
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Subject: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 09:54 PM

Subject: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: NightWing
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 12:00 AM

I searched through old threads, but didn't find anything with an answer to this. If you know of an old thread on this topic, please point me to it!!!

I'm getting good enough at the guitar that I'm starting to learn to solo. Not very well and very, very slowly, but starting. At this point my solos are completely planned out beforehand; not improvised at all ... not improvised "live" at any rate.

One question that I haven't been able to get answered is what key do I want to play a lick in? The chord progression below is the first lines of a song I'm currently working on learning ... and creating a solo for.


Do I want to play a half-measure solo in G, then a half-measure solo in C? Do I want to play it all in G major and make the C and D beats be in C Lydian and D Mixolydian (so to speak: G major with C/D as the main sound). Or do I just play the whole thing in G major without worrying about the C and D beats at all.

I know that the most important answer is to make it sound right. I'm asking what will tend to make it sound right!


Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 08:22 AM

The easy way is to play the basic melody and as it gets easier try to work out some harmony notes , until you can do a full harmony of the melody , then work on variations !

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 10:11 AM

yeah... put all the Lydians and Mixolydians right out your head
and lock them away in a secure tamper proof cupboard...

Just simply record yourself playing the song structure / chord progression
then solo along working out by ear what works best,
that actually adds something of significance to support that passage of the performance;
rather than spewing out pointless complex fast notes and licks that just distract and detract.

Solos need to be minimised and justified...
Remember one essential principle established in the golden era of punk rock...

Songs don't need solos - Don't solo just for the sake of it -
..and if you must solo, keep it short and effective

"I know that the most important answer is to make it sound right.
I'm asking what will tend to make it sound right!"

Seems like with the right balance of self confidence & self discipline... you're already on the right track...

We all know there are too many delusional folks with minimal talent and aptitude
already out there hogging the limelight, inflicting dire overlong solos at public sessions..

Though having said all that, lengthy vanity solos can be very useful for audience toilet breaks
and sloping off to the bar...

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 10:56 AM

Two approaches to a tune -

Nuages 1
Nuages 2

I know which one I prefer personally

Very much agree with both the posters here that the tune is a pretty good starting point.

One of my horrors in life at gatherings of guitar players is when someone starts playing a blues and people dive in to use up their four pentatonic licks with a few ill judged bends thrown in to annoy... Usually the tune is obliterated in a deluge of notes with no sense of phrasing or tune. Unless it's done well of course :)

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 11:13 AM

I think it was BB King who once said "It's the notes you leave out that count" (or words to that effect).

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: Stanron
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 08:10 PM

These are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. This song is in the key of G. You should play long notes from the current chord being played. You can play notes not in the chord as long as they are 'passing notes'. Passing notes are short notes preceded by and followed by notes immediately above or below them in the scale.

The scale of G is

G A B C D E F# G

The chord of G uses G, B and D. This leaves A, C, E and F# as passing notes.
The chord of C uses C, E and G. This leaves A, B, D and F# as passing notes.
The chord of D uses D, F# and A. This leaves E, G and B as passing notes, C turns the chord into D7 and this can be used as a chord note or a passing note.

The idea behind this is chord notes cound 'consonant', or nice, and non chord notes sound 'dissonant', or nasty.

In reality this is an over simplification. Non chordal notes set up tensions and the resolution of these tensions is part of the art of soloing. For a beginner, investigate chordal notes and passing notes.

Some experienced solo players hear what they want to play in their imagination and use their experience to find those notes quickly on the guitar. Others compile a vocabulary of licks and select these to suit the situation.

One description of soloing is 'Composition on the fly'. So your current approach of composing solos in advance is not altogether wrong. You just need to get quicker at it.

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: Stanron
Date: 10 Feb 15 - 08:15 PM

The second sentence of the above should read "This song is in the key of G and you should use the scale of G."

Also "cound 'consonant'" should be "sound 'consonant'".

Subject: RE: How to Solo/take a Lead Break
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Feb 15 - 10:31 AM

The kind of improvising you are talking about originated in the world of jazz, and the jazz musicians who did it played the same songs in the same bars, speakeasies and hotels for a long time, perhaps years. They knew the chord sequences like the backs of their hands.

You should do the same, NightWing. Don't try working up a solo until you know the chords to that song by heart and better.

Then think of a musical 'trick.' Here's what I mean. A few years ago, I was in a class where we were supposed to improvise to a set of chords played by the teacher. And what we students did was settle on a particular musical technique for each go-through. For example, I might say to myself:

This time I'll use really long notes.
I'll use triplets.
I'll use a few Scottish snaps
I'll put dots on my eighth notes.
I'll play a trill on the last long note of each line.

In other words, decide ahead of time on something that will make your music interesting and work up a solo of your own, a solo that still uses the chord sequence of the piece.

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