SPICING UP YOUR SOLO

You may already be ripping, but for those of you who need help putting those notes to use, here are some tips.

There is a lot to be said for playing around up-and-down the scale for a solo. You don’t often need big jumps or complicated note combinations. However here are a few ideas to play more creative solos.

Chords – I hope if you are learning to solo on a tune, you have already learned the chords of the song you are working on. The chords can give you loads of ideas that can contribute to your improvised solo. It will also help you learn voice leading in your solos to use the notes we teach you in a logical way.

Melody – I hope if you are learning to solo on a tune, you have already learned the melody of the song you are working on. The melody can give you loads of ideas that can contribute to your improvised solo. It will also help you learn phrasing and how to play, umm…. melodically.

Phrasing – Imrovising a solo is a lot like telling a story to your friends. First you have to learn the language that they speak (jazz). Using the right words and grammar are like using the right notes and theory. When you talk, you take breaths between your sentences, speak faster or slow depending on the context, and maybe use a dramatic pause to help build anticipation for the audience. You may want to reference or repeat important phrases to emphasize their connection to the story (motivic development). You can also build excitement and tension to a climax leading up to the punch line.

If you can play a solo as naturally as you tell a story, then you are probably doing pretty good.

Rhythm – Drummers spend a lifetime working on this. To start: don’t play running eight notes (try and mix it up) and really listen to, and try and match the groove.

Note order – Playing with the order of even five notes can give you an amazing number of combinations that may give birth to some new licks (melodies).

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For the next step on your improvisational evolution. 

 

Arpeggio – Hitting every other note in a scale (1,3,5 etc.). They can start on any note of the scale really. You can play a two, three, four or more note arpeggio either before or after a few notes in order from the scale.

Passing notes – Playing the note between two scale tones on the way by.

Upper neighbor note – Playing the note a half step above your               target note before you resolve down to it.

Lower neighbor note – Playing the note a half step below your target   note before you resolve up to it.

encircling notes – When you play both the note above and the one below before landing on the target note.

Playing different intervals – Don’t always play the notes in order. You can jump around in the scale a bit. (Less is more here)

Delayed resolution – Go where you were supposed to, but not right away. Play a wrong note and resolve it using one of the above methods; You just resolve it after a break or by playing a few more notes in between.

Playing outside – This basically means making wrong notes sound right. Disclaimer: Only to be attempted by people that can play a great solo with the right notes and are looking for some weirdness. One easy way to “get some fresh air” is to play the major scale up one fret then resolve it back down a fret again; Instant “outdoor activities.”

Listening and transcribing –  At the bottom of each chart, I talk about some of my favorite solos of each tune. Listen to them and every other version you can get your hands on. Learning how to play or sing these solos will help you put all of the points above in context.

 

Learn to solo in weeks not years