Techniques to make solo feel alive/impactful

M

Member 184391

Hey guys,

I know soloing is our representation of the flow of the song in us, but I just wanted to know what do you guys do to make your solos more alive? I don't mean essentially incorporating more techniques, but tips like "less is more" and so forth.

I've seen an article that Satriani said that to continue a passage/carry it, I don't remember exactly the technical name, but in the aeolian and ionian modes, he carries/sustains/continues the passage by not finishing on the pentatonic notes (sorry guys, I haven't learnt music theory).

So I just wanted to know what you guys do to make shredding/soloing so powerful/impactful like great guitarists such as Slash, Petrucci, Duane Allman, Iommi, Blackmore, Clapton, etc. (example: sustaining notes longer, fast/slow passages, balancing of going up and down the neck, usage of harmonics, etc.)

Thanks,

Felipe veiga
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
11,487
Hmmmm... most of what's going to help build is rhythmic. For instance, guys like Clapton like to repeat a phrase over and over, especially one with an odd number of notes. Take a 3 bar phrase, maybe E G A over an A7 chord, played as a straight triplet, and repeat it over and over again, it's going to sound different each time. First time, the accent is going to be on the E, second time on the G, third on the A, and so on. That's playing it the same way each time, the perceived accent comes from where the phrase lies in the track.

This sounds complicated to the listener, but is usually a pretty easy thing to pull off for the player.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
16,671
I agree, the main thing is rhythm, especially syncopations. Also varying dynamics. And a sense of shape to a solo - not just constructing logical phrases, but building them into a coherent whole. The standard way of doing that is to start simple and quiet, probably in mid or low register, and steadily build - make the build slow and careful, with plenty of space to create suspense, and eventually you can end up screaming in high register. If you start off screaming, where else are you gonna go? (OK, take it down and back up again, I guess... :rolleyes:)

dewey's point about repetition is also important. It's easy to imagine that creativity means you have to invent new stuff all the time, to stay "interesting" - quite the reverse. Any dull little phrase improves immeasurably when repeated a few times. It works because an audience can lock in and follow the development as you change small elements of it. You have to remember they don't understand the first thing about modes, altered scales and all that; clever advanced harmony will go in one ear and out the other. You risk blinding them with science. (At best you get a "wow", but at worst it's "wtf is that all about?") But everyone understands groove perfectly, and they can spot simple relationships between phases - that makes them feel intelligent! That's where you get the "yeah!" and not just the "wow!?!"
 

Tim Bowen

Member
Messages
3,481
I actually think in terms of adjectives and moods quite often. For instance, I might want something to sound sweet, mean, sincere, goofy, horny, sarcastic, flip, even incongruous or 'wrong' occasionally.

Also, mindset prior to taking a ride informs not only note and nuance choices, but tone. I could play over a section with a roadhouse blues feel, with some dirt tone and greasy string bending and such, or tackle the same section with more of a bebop approach; string slides instead of bends, cleaner tone, more chromatics, more lines & less 'licks', maybe tuck the pick occasionally for Wes Montgomery-style thumb octaves, etc.

I could phrase, and choose tone, nuances, and articulations more like a rock player or more like a bluegrass player, or anything in between. And I might change horses in the middle of the stream, so to speak, but I always articulate and bring ideas to fruition more effectively when I know what I'm trying to say - before I say it.
 

LaceSensor1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,331


2:00 mark is where the solo starts. One thing that stands out to me is how closely the solo notes are in time with the rhythm, this really makes the solo POP and feels very emotional.

Obviously the harmonic content of the solo will dictate how "cool" and emotional it sounds. If you jamming over major/minor chords you're color pallet will be limited. Start adding in dom7th, 9th, 13th chords and you can really start to add the emotional colors in.
 

LaceSensor1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,331
Also I will add this,

If you listen to Derek Trucks his solo's are super emotional. I attribute this to his infinite note/slide technique. Where the notes beginning and end is a blurred line and this leaves a lot of room for super slick chromaticism(spelling?)
 

jammybastard

"I'm losing my edge, but I was there..."
Messages
6,476
1. Less is more.
2. Leave some space for the listener's imagination.
3. Carry/reinforce the melody.
4. Support the song. It's not about you, it's about the song and how it connects with listeners.
 

LaceSensor1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,331
Also

Having clearly defined "licks" that really hit home the root of the lick....paired on top of a nice harmony...will help to define the solo

Without defined licks, it sounds like rambling notes with no real story being told.
 

LaceSensor1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,331


51b1tNzGGnL.jpg


Learn how to solo over cool harmony, and the impact/emotion will come naturally with time. With boring harmony it will never sound interesting.
 

Phletch

Member
Messages
9,896
most of what's going to help build is rhythmic.
This. There are a lot of ways to make a solo more "alive," but rhythmic variations, to include timing and syncopation, are where a lot of it comes from. Using 2 or 4 bar phrasing and beginning your phrases in the middle or end of a bar rather than the start of the bar. Dynamics and direction, as @JonR pointed out. Sure, depending on the song, coming out of the gate at full gallop can be the way to go, but you've got to serve the song. That often means taking the listener on a journey by establishing the route clearly, then building intensity and bringing the listener along with you.

Expand your horizons, and listen to more than just guitarists. Horn players, pianists, singers - they all express themselves differently. Learn from them, too.
 
Last edited:

AXEL276

Member
Messages
1,223
I will add that vibrato and pitch are the signatures of the great players. I can identify a famous guitar from just hearing one to 3 notes. A world class guitar player has perfect pitch (bending notes) and a unique vibrato.
 

brad347

Member
Messages
1,260
- Strengthen your aural/tactile connection with your instrument such that it's as intuitive as singing. There are no shortcuts to this, but it's important.

- Invariably, some things will feel as intuitive as singing, others will feel loose and uncontrollable, and still others can be executed only with effort or concentration or intellectualization. In performance, draw from the intuitive, but also don't fear the chaotic. However, reserve things that require concentration/intellect for your practice time, so that they may become intuitive.

- Regardless of what we think we can separate out in our minds, we tend to play how we practice. Practice with musicality, inventiveness and passion-- even technical practice.

- Read some books, go to some museums, love, travel, give gifts, allow your heart to be broken-- just generally live life. There are also no shortcuts to this; it's also important.

- As much as we play how we practice, we play how we listen. Listen to the records of masters of feeling, and enjoy them. Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge, George Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Lester Young, Otis Redding = not a bad start.

- Observe your audience and be sensitive to their energy. If "alive/impactful" is what you hope to communicate, then don't take no for an answer-- if they're not engaging in that way, stop at nothing to engage them. Don't make the ever-common mistake of berating/blaming your audience for not paying attention. Give them something worth listening to, and they will, I promise. Make this your mission and be stubborn.
 
Last edited:

9fingers

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,554
Don't play all the time. Space makes what we do play meaningful. Listen to the blues masters & Jeff Beck. Their phrasing really breathes because of the spaces (as if to stop & inhale some fresh air).
Nothing wears me out & loses my attention like non-stop run-on musical passages. Stop for a bit & make 'em want it!
 

Aaron Mayo

Member
Messages
2,237
What do your favorite players do? Why does your favorite solo sound so good? How do they start and end? What is repeated, what it varied?

Record yourself playing a solo and try to be as objective as possible about what you did that was great and what wasn't. What could you have done differently. A good teacher could help too.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
47,083
Dynamics.

Jim Lill does a great job explaining from a country guitar point of view.

 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,921
Variety - so it doesn't get boring. Showing the audience that you understand guitar playing.

Actually I have a "see me improvising" link below. It isn't amazing playing, but it isn't bad either. There are a few examples, but each shows a good variety of notes (bends, etc) all played in good rhythmic context, and they build in excitement.

A good solo is the right notes played in the right rhythm in a pattern that builds excitement and leaves the audience thinking - "he knows a lot about playing guitar."
 
Last edited:
M

Member 184391

I practiced last night on phrasing and space between notes (as to allow them to breathe). Much better, more alive.

I repeated certain passages and it got me hooked, and I started feeling the song and just let it take me over.

Of course, that it was for lighter genres and rock - now I have to work towards doing that when playing metal in order to have compelling solos and not a Kerry King "Widdly widdly widdly wah! Widdly widdly wah! Widdly widdly uohhhhhawawaw" or Hammett solo (he was so much when he used it moderately or did not use it at all, as in Kill Em All)

Thank you so much guys for the tips!
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom