Help needed on soloing simply and not getting bored!!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by michael.e, Aug 7, 2004.

  1. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    Hey all,
    Question for you. I play in an original band that is along the likes of Dave Matthews, PJ Harvey, Sting...More sophistocated indie [read not standard] rock-ish music. The bandleader asked me tonight after rehersal if on some songs, when it comes time for me to put in a solo fill if I could simplify some of my lines a bit. Some to the extent that if I wanted to, I could just play the line on just one string all up the neck [Zzzzzz]. When it comes time for my solo parts, I certainly do not go noodling off in left field but I do have my interpretation of the song as a whole and while I can certainly find the melody line in what I am doing, I at least think that it adds an interesting foil to what the song is about. She wants it to be super simple and I tend to see that as a bit amateur [am I putting musicianship above the song?]. She loves George Martin type melodies and complementing instrumentation and as far as guitar solo's go, one of her favorites is Nirvana's "Come as you are". While I think that solo was a good fit for that song, I thought it was crap. I am even having a more difficult time learning these simple lines at times than playing the more complex solo lines that I am used to [I tend to be more of an improvisationalist by nature, feeling where the music is going and I can land on my feet pretty well under gig pressure]. I have no problem in speaking my mind with this band so there is no problem with compromise a bit but I really do want to do my best for the band and I want what is best to support the song. I guess that in my mind, I am only doing what is best for the band by playing near or at my limit, whether that means speed, digging in with feel or just interesting lines...just something that seems worthy of my experience I guess. I am so into polyrhythmic phlo and color, and she wants the memorable little line that you end up humming. In any of your experience, have any of you been able to achieve the communion of the two. Or could any of you direct me to some fine players that you think do this melding best. Thanks alot guys, M.E.
     
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  2. EricT

    EricT Member

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    Experimenting with time is a nice way of making simple lines more sophisticated. I've just started working on my time feel myself, so I can't give you any other tips than that it's very rewarding.
    Regarding players that meld sophistication with simpleness, some examples that might suit your style are Larry Carlton, Michael Landau, Mark Knopfler and Scott Henderson.
     
  3. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

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    You both want to be the star of the band, yet that only works in hard rock and metal.

    I gave up playing with singers because of these issues and formed a all instrumental trio.
     
  4. forestryguy

    forestryguy Member

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    I think Adam Levy (recently with Norah Jones) does this extremely well. I read somewhere (GP??) that his philosophy is "no note before its time." Understated, simple lines that are a very classy touch to each tune.
     
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  5. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    As much as I hate the phrase, I am very much a "collective player". I got over the "me" part of being in a band years ago. I still love to wank mind you, but only when it is appropriate and that is in live situations for the most part. In writing my parts, I guess that I make them more complex than she wants. She loves what I play, she just wants something different in the way of simplicity and really following the melody, something that people walk away humming. I realize that the kind of band I am in does not allow me the kind of space that I always want, I can put together a cosmic phlo unit for something like that where I can do my take on Coletrain [Amen]. I believe in the material that she writes and she is a great performer and musician and she is a hell of a rhythm player and I enjoy the fact that I am a part of this fine unit. I want to make this work so I can fulfill my end of things for the band yet stay satisfied and productive. Thank you all for the replies and suggestions, keep em' coming! M.E.
     
  6. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

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    It is the rare individual who gets to stretch out in aband situation, unless it is their name the band uses, like Yngwie Malmsteen Band, or such.

    The guy from Creed is a friend of Michael Angelo and apparently is really a shredhead at heart. He did Creed to get rich, but now he is returning to his real passion.

    Singing or playing over more complex changes is more difficult, and as such, you singer is telling you that either she is not up to the challange, or she is just too lazy to try.

    Either you can choose to stay with this project, fully realizing you are second on the totem pole, or you can move on. MANY a guy play in a second band to fulfill their own needs outside of their main money making band. Perhaps you should look into doing something on the side. If the drummer and bass player are any good, they too may have an itch to stretch out. It would be super cool to do an all instrumental thing with the same people one day a week.

    Just say to them, this is ok, but I need more. I propose we just jam instrumentals on Thursdays from now on and we write tunes that give us ALL a chance to stretch out and play solos. I am getting bored.

    Worst they can do is can you, I suspect this is not you main source of income.

    It took me years to deprogram my bassist and drummer to stretch themsleves after all the years they had people tell them to play less, keep it simple, etc...

    I'd say, "you payin me bitch?". If the answer is no, then you ain't the boss around here now are you?
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    You said the key word, compromise. On some songs do it your way and on some songs do it her way. You've got the right attitude which is the music comes first. Serve the song and everyone/everything will sound good.

    I find it is much better to get these kinds of issues addressed immediately. They do not go away and if one does not talk about it, it gets worse & worse.

    Musicians are a finicky lot aren't we?

    That's not necessarily addressed at you Michael.e, just an observation.
     
  8. jaimo

    jaimo Member

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    David Gilmore was once asked how he writes solos for his tunes. He stated that he literally sings them first. Hums the general melody line and embellishes from there over a period of time.
    It's a method that works because it gives you a different perspective of expressing the song instead of dashing off a bunch of nondescript notes to fill time.
    The cat from the Smithereens for example, also literally writes the solos and fills for a song just like a lyric because he believes it provides a memorable impression or signature of the song.
    And dig it, like it's been said before, music is what happens between the notes. Meaning, give the song some space and room to breathe. Knowing when not to play is a great art.
    The difficulty is to find new and different melodies so you don't fall into a rut and become bored.

    And finally, there are singers who would rather you not play at all if they were to let the truth be known. They think they're the sh!t. If that's the situation your in, you might consider dumping that band or singer.

    Hope this helps.:)
    jai
     
  9. Plexihead

    Plexihead Member

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    I think jaimo nailed it here, that's my impression of the situation anyway . . . FWIW.

    If you really want to stay in this group and have good relations with the other members (i.e. singer), I'm pretty sure the best approach would be to give her what she wants on some tunes, but still be creative and have fun on other tunes that you feel could use some spice when the solo comes up.

    That would keep things interesting for you, stroke the singers ego somewhat, and the music would benefit from being fresh song to song.
     
  10. Boogs

    Boogs Member

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    i think writing melodies, rather than spontaneous self-expression, is a good ideal for pop music recordings - and i'm using the term "pop" pretty broadly. not that jamming and accessible music don't go together, but i think there is room for simple, well thought out melodies in tunes.

    i think that we have an overly lofty view of improv sometimes, speaking of simple written melodies as if they were an affectation for the sake of popularity, while ignoring the social motivations for wanting to be considered a "great musician". yes, there is a spirituality to improv, but it's necessity in a given musical situation can be exagerated.
     
  11. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Think Nursery Rhymes with gain ...
    Believe me Michael... It works!!
     
  12. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I suggest thinking along the lines of fewer but more creative notes. For example, if the song has chord changes, look for a systematic way of going through them going higher, but using the changing chord tones. Sometime "complex" guitar solos often contain riffs instead of musical phrases, and this may be what she is hearing and wants to change. She wants the solos to be reflective of the individual song, and this is actually a reasonable request.

    A good example is the solo in Summer of '69, simple but in keeping with the song, and more or less on one string, but with style so it doesn't sound like that. Two Tickets to Paradise is another tasty solo that builds and follows the chord changes instead of playing riffs (and is also largely on one string). Even All Right Now is largely based on going up a single string. All are classic solos.
     
  13. Fretsalot

    Fretsalot Member

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    Holy Rip Van Winkle! Did hurricane Irma uncover this 13yo thread?

    :D
     
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  14. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

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    Would be interested to know how this turned out...
     
  15. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    Play pieces of the melody and do things to them. Ask yourself "What would Marc Ribot do?".
     

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