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Author Topic: Soloing Question: what scale?  (Read 16244 times)

Offline Patzag

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #60 on: September 04, 2010, 11:16:25 AM »
Just saw this thread.  Some great advice here from a number of players.  
I'd like to contribute my 2 cents to this with a slightly different approach:  

If you listen to GREAT players like Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea (I know - they play keys!) You'll sometimes hear in their recordings the mumblings of vocal scratchy sounds.  It's because they "sing" their notes at the same time as they play it.  I'm not saying one should scat a-la Benson while doing a metal solo, but let's take it back a bit.  The ideal solo would be the one you intend to play.  In other words, don't let your fingers do the composing.  
A solo is an alternative melody for the song you're playing on, right?  It's usually composed on the fly or, like Eric Johnson does on many of his tunes, it's worked out in advanced and recorded and played live exactly the same way each time.  But in any case, it's a melody that's composed.  A lot of players concentrate on what scale to play rather than what NOTE to play.  Ot what PHRASE to play, or what MELODY to play.  But really, the ideal scene would be to be able to conceptualize what you want to play and then play THAT.  And sometimes, the notes you "hear" and want to play are NOT part of the scale that fits the chord in theory books.

So analysts pry it apart and say phrases like "notice how at the second bar of the first solo, Joey introduces elements of the Dorian scale over the C major chord" when in fact, Joey thought that slipping in a couple of notes from D minor arpeggio was the bomb.
So, to make a lengthy bit slightly lengthier, try this approach as an exercise:
1. Play your chord progression and record it.
2. "Sing" the solo you feel would communicate the best and record that
3. Learn how to play what you just sang.
4. Wow! You should have licks and notes you never thought of playing before, because most of the time, your fingers, your automatic scale patterns, play the solo.

The next time you play a solo, try to only play what you "hear", not let your fingers get away from your control.  You'll slow down considerably at first. Maybe to a screeching halt!  But it'll reboot your approach to soloing.  You can learn all the scales (and should) and learn all the arpeggios (and should), but when it comes to making music, forget about it.  You have to play the notes you hear, not the notes dictated by a theory book.  And if your solo is slow, then maybe the one who hears it will have the time to savor each note for it's full melodic value.

Example of slow solo that blows my mind every time I listen to it:  Larry Carlton's solo on Steely Dan's Third World Man.  Double tracked and harmonized and pure genius.

Patrick
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Soloing Question: what scale?

Offline billy

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #61 on: September 04, 2010, 12:54:33 PM »
beautifully said.  

The Joey bit is probably closest to my approach if I'm improvising.  (I don't think that came off nearly as clearly in my posts as in yours though.  So hopefully a little more clarity.)

And I think that Joey approach sort of happens naturally when you start learning the key sigs and chords... and you're right, the analysis can get a bit much.  I generally think of theory as loose guidelines which can really help.

Compositionally, I doubt many people start out using theory.  You either stumble onto something that sounds cool, or try to duplicate something you heard in your head or somewhere else, and then work it.  But when you get stuck, the analysis can help you get out of a bind or adjust it more to what you hear in your head.  At the least, its a way to communicate ideas, assuming the people you're working with speak the same language.

Yeah, singing your lines is really helpful.  Whistle if you're bashful. (I started on piano and singing/whistling was really helpful when learning Bach Inventions and keeping the lines separate.  My brother used to laugh at me when I was writing solos on my 4 track... but it was so worth it.)

ANY note can work, but only if its deliberate (like you mean it!), or you're really lucky!  Back to "what do you want to achieve...?"

The Carlton stuff on Steely Dan is amazing...  

Billy


*play it like you mean  it...*
Billy

[always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.  e. e. cummings]

Soloing Question: what scale?

Offline prjacobs

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #62 on: September 04, 2010, 03:45:09 PM »
I agree that singing is a must for every musician.  That's why people talk about a "singing" tone... Especially with an instrument that plays equally well in most registers like the guitar or in all registers like the piano.  I think it's important to understand the energy required to sing different intervals in different registers.  There's a primal power there that should be evoked in our playing.  Also dynamics reveal themselves very uniquely in vocal production.  Leap an octave from forte to piano.  You may have to sing the upper note in falsetto, depending on where it's placed in your range. How would that translate into feel on the guitar? Almost every band that I hear has poor dynamics.  I once worked with a very famous drummer and I suggested that he start off somewhat quietly and build to the bridge and really hit it.  His answer. "I usually rely on the sound man to control my dynamics."  Huh?  I moved on:)
@ Billy.  With Sanford Gold's system, we'd do an exercise called extensions of minor 7th chords.  In the left hand, I'd arpeggiate a Dm7 chord and at the same time an FMaj7th arpeggio in the right hand. Then I'd move up a 3rd in each hand so the left hand would play Dm7, FMaj7, Am7, and CMaj 7, while the right hand would play FMaj7, Am7, CMaj7 and Em7 arpeggios. In reality you're just building on the basic minor 7th chord, but it gives you an understanding of where those tonalities can possibly go.
 

Soloing Question: what scale?

Offline PatricBrown

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #63 on: September 06, 2010, 08:49:35 PM »
In the 90's I was playing violin in the USL(in Lafayette LA) orchestra, and it was during a rehearsal just prior to the performance by a day or so, and so we were in the auditorium, and the main reason for the performance was the presence of a brother sister team from Germany, IMS, the girl playing piano, and the young man playing violin. Present was a music professor at the school, from Africa, who really knew his stuff,(it just sort of emanated from him) and he was having a conversation with the two, and, luckily, I was close enough while passing near them to overhear him say something I have never forgotten. I thought is was quite profound, and sort of a reassuring epiphany, as it were, to hear him say: "you can't try too hard to play music." Or something very close to that effect. In other words, relax.
This is sort of general, and I hope, not too oblique to this thread's content.

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Soloing Question: what scale?

Offline prjacobs

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #64 on: September 07, 2010, 12:21:50 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by PatricBrown

In the 90's I was playing violin in the USL(in Lafayette LA) orchestra, and it was during a rehearsal just prior to the performance by a day or so, and so we were in the auditorium, and the main reason for the performance was the presence of a brother sister team from Germany, IMS, the girl playing piano, and the young man playing violin. Present was a music professor at the school, from Africa, who really knew his stuff,(it just sort of emanated from him) and he was having a conversation with the two, and, luckily, I was close enough while passing near them to overhear him say something I have never forgotten. I thought is was quite profound, and sort of a reassuring epiphany, as it were, to hear him say: "you can't try too hard to play music." Or something very close to that effect. In other words, relax.
This is sort of general, and I hope, not too oblique to this thread's content.

http://www.myspace.com/patrickronaldbrown

2000 Fly Stealth Gray Hard Tail, 2000 Reverend Slingshot, THD Univalvew/one12 Avatar Bottom(Eminence Private Jack), Traynor YCV20WR, Ableton Suite 8, various & assorted other acoustic & electric, Home Studio

It is better to know than to believe.

Live is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.




I've been playing music for SO long, and have heard the above expressed with a variety of rationales.   I was recently in a piano etude performance class with college and graduate students a little older than my kids.  There was a particularly talented player who got up and played first. He took a deep breath and played as if he was taking disgusting medicine.  He looked like he never exhaled. Each subsequent player all looked like they were tortured and that their lives would be ruined if they made one mistake.  I realized at that moment, that not only would I relax and simply play during this class, but I would make sure that when I practiced, I was relaxed as well.  By the way, I routinely played rock guitar and keys for 100,000 - 200,000 people a week for a good part of my life; I'm not just a classical geek [:)].  Every time I practice, I simply try to execute what I play in a true expression of what I think the music should be. This type of relaxation takes comparing and results out of the equation and simply lets your own musicality come out.
The other way I often hear this sentiment expressed, is by people who are somewhat intimidated by the more technical, virtuosic playing styles and basically mean.... Hey you don't need to know theory, scales, chords, or even how to read music to play great.  Which is all true, as long as one doesn't use "relaxation" as an excuse not to put in the hours necessary to play well.  Again, I know that technical facility or harmonic intricacy is just one aspect of playing, and a love of music is truly the best reason to play.  But, you become relaxed when playing or performing because you've put in the necessary time on your instrument.  We see someone walking on a high wire and they are so relaxed.  Because they've mastered the skills needed and can relax and do it.
 

Soloing Question: what scale?

Offline BrainWorm

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Soloing Question: what scale?
« Reply #65 on: September 07, 2010, 12:46:22 AM »
Theory is good, when I realized the note I was liking was a dominant 7th, I could use that information in other keys. And it helped me to hear what someone else is doing.

"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."
"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."