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Help in Soloing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kynoch, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. kynoch


    Jun 28, 2006
    I have been learning alot of scales with the hope of learning to solo....but how an where do I go from here to create solos???? I am a bit lost with it..... how do I take the scales I know and create solos??? any tips???

    Or have I approached the whole thing wrong???
  2. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    A solo is just a melody, just another part of the song. Go about it the same way you would writing any other line. If you're trying to cop a jazz line, you listen to some jazz bassists for inspiration. Go and listen to some solos and see how they're constructed.
  3. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Hey Kynoch,
    It's good that you are learning scales, but sadly, being able to play every scale at 300bpm doesn't mean you can craft a great solo. The best way to learn how to solo is to study solos, great solos...the ones that you really love, regardless of what instrument is taking the ride. Nick is right, you need to dissect the solos that you enjoy and see what really makes them work. What scales, chords, arpeggios, licks, intervals, and phrasing are being used...does it start at 100% and stay there or does the soloist start at 30% intensity and then build throughout the length of the solo.

    Study your scales, but if you want to learn to solo...you gotta study solos.
  4. SpecialG


    Apr 22, 2007
    Well, I am not the most experienced when it comes to bass (or music for that matter), but for me, knowing basic scales helps. With the pieces I've written, I try to make the solos sound like something a person could sing.

    In the case of metal, it might be something that would sound like somebody is having an epileptic seizure.

    I'm no expert by far, but a lot of times for the type of music I'm writing, I don't use machine-gun-esque slap. Theres nothing wrong with throwing in a rest or a whole note, by any means.

    Depending on where you're trying to solo, it's a good idea to know what direction you're trying to go. Are you trying to build up the pace to the point where a listener is awaiting an explosion? Are you starting to break it down back to a mellow tempo?

    Don't mean to rant too much, I tend to think in terms of "Where do I go from here?"
  5. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
    You need way more information than just knowing scales. I suggest the following book: "Harmony and Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians" by Keith Harmon and Carl Schroeder. The ISBN is: 0793579910.

    It's not about soloing per say, but it is about the information you need to solo. Excellent book.
  6. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Interesting recommendation. One of the Amazon reviews pointed out that the first half is the fundamental type theory you'd expect to learn, but the 2nd half on harmony was comprehensive and well laid out. I'll definitely check it out and add it to the repertoire.

    Back to the OP - restraint is the name of the game with soloing. This isn't a hard & fast rule and certainly complex can work too, but if you limit yourself to a pentatonic (1 2 3 5 6 8 from a diatonic scale) you'd do pretty well at sounding melodic.

    Another good hint - learn the melody line. If you know the song's melody, you stand a MUCH better chance of thinking of a strong, memorable solo because it will relate to what people have been hearing for the ~2 or 3 minutes prior to your solo, and you're learning in general how good melodies are put together.
  7. on1ne


    Dec 21, 2004
    To me a solo is where you are expected to "show off" a bit.
    I keep it brief since I don't have any impressive technical tricks. I just try to make it interesting. The melody of the song itself is always a good start but I also look for other recognizeable melodies or phrases that might fit. Doesn't matter how simple or silly, if I can squeeze in a couple of bars of "Tea for Two" or "Penny Lane" or a recognizeable riff from any tune that comes to mind, it adds a little flair. If the gig is for a specific occasion like someones birthday or a holiday like New years eve, I'll try to work in the a bit of the melody from an appropriate song.
  8. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Heh. Reminds me of... Was it Montery Pop where Hendrix did a bit of Sinatra. It was awesome.

    Another thing you can do is always return to the root for the "1" and wander off and do other stuff for the rest of the measure (or two) in a sort of cyclical thing that has minor surprises each time. It keeps the song going while allowing you to stretch out.
  9. CapeBass

    CapeBass Guest

    I'd learn the modes as well so you can link scales together properly. You don't have to use every note within a scale during a solo. Pivoting into a relative major or minor works well too.
  10. Listen to some horn players for inspiration
  11. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    What has already been said here.

    Sing along with your solos.

    Listen to singers and learn to play in phrases.

    Listen to the master improvisers, particularly how they take phrases/motifs and develop them.

    Always make music when you're practicing. Learn how to make your scales, modes and arpeggios practicing musical and not just a technical endeavor. Every note that comes out of your bass should be musical.

    When practicing your scales, modes and arps, find recognizable melodies, nursery rhymes, etc. within them.
  12. on1ne


    Dec 21, 2004
    Upright bassist Slam Stewart used to do that. It's actually not that hard once you get the knack and it definitely is a crowd pleaser.
  13. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I can count the number of bass solos I like on one, maybe two hands, so I'm not the best one to comment, but I will say, don't worry about speed, or number of notes. In fact, depending on what you're soloing over, you can really free yourself from your groove responsibilities to a degree whe soloing too. Just think melody, and phrasing, like you're "singing". A solo should be an emotional thing to offer people, not an athletic one.
    Listen to singers and horn players too as others have suggested. Your solo's melody should be meaningful no matter what instrument it's coming out of.
  14. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    I agree that learning the vocal line is a great approach, not necessarily because you want to quote but it gets your mind thinking in the melodic sense. Also, listen to other soloists, whether its Cliff Burton on Orion, Victor Wooten on anything, or a great guitarist or saxophone player. David Gilmour is one of my favorites because he is very tasteful. Once you've learned how to make a melodic statement, you can add flashes of technique in there to "wow" your audience. A little goes a long way. Also, arpeggios are much more useful in solos than scales IME.
  15. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I experienced a breakthrough in my soloing chops when I decided to learn the heads of the songs in which I was soloing - or just the vocal melodies.

    As bass players, we are focused on the roots and uninteresting chordal tones, as well as moving from one note to another note-by-note instead of across intervals. This approach doesn't make for interesting melodies, and I found that learning the head to a jazz standard (for example) really led me to a different understanding of what the tune was about, harmonically.

    Then, as a basis for a solo - once you are aware of the head, you can start by playing a line that is very close to the head. Maybe it has a different rhythm, maybe a different order of the notes, but definitely flirts with the head. The next time around, embellish a little, maybe add a repeating pattern here and there. But keep the harmonic basis of the head in your mind.

    That, and one other very accessible piece of advice I read from Chick Corea once - he said that:

    1. Break your solos into short passages, rather than a long string of notes.
    2. Avoid beginning each new phrase on one and ending it on four - starting on two tends to create a more conversational sound to your phrase.
    Best luck.
  16. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Many players have done it in a performance context. Whether or not you decide to incorporate it in to your performances, it's a great tool in your practicing to help your bass solos sound more melody-oriented. E.g, you have to take breaths when you sing so if you're playing bass solos that you can also sing they will naturally take on the qualities of the kind of phrasing singers do.
  17. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Another soloing challenge we bass players have is that, compared to horn players, our notes decay very quickly, and we are unable to lend as much texture to a sustained note. That makes it tempting for us to use more notes in our solos, versus good notes.

    Counterexample - Miles' Kind of Blue is notable for how few notes he plays in the heads - not very many notes, and long ones. Yet it is one of the most influential, pervasive, and "reference" recordings in all of jazz. That CD is all about the right notes.
  18. A huge +1 and shows the support role that a master bassist (Chambers) can play. The space, as well as the notes, in his playing is exquisite.

    As for soloing; I'm not the greatest at scales and arpeggios so I usually rely on feel and timing. That's when also appreciating space works. I don't do a whole lot of soloing, maybe one or two in a two set gig.
  19. Ozonbass

    Ozonbass Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Good advice.

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