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Jazz soloing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by madmartyr17, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Hey Guys, I'm normally a metal player whose trying to get into jazz. I've conquered scales and walks, now I need some advice on soloing. Tips for techniques you use to maintain the scale, nice intervals, honestly I'll take any advice you offer.

    -your humble student
  2. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    You've mastered walking? Wow...I'm impressed. ;)
  3. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    There are a lot of approaches to soloing, but if you want to take a somewhat "classical" approach (don't worry, nothing heavy) read this article from a magazine I edit. It offers 9 ways to get into an improv. It's written for string players (violinists mostly), but these techniques apply to everyone. You'll need to register and log-in (it's free) but I think it lays out a lot of ideas most players ignore.

    Learn to Compose Your Own Cadenzas and Variations / VIOLIN / Technique / All Things Strings
  4. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    Metal, you probably know scales.

    Notch down the straight scales down a bit, add some arpeggios and chromatic passing tones leading into or targeting chord tones.

    And listen to a lot of jazz, transcribe lines you like.

    And the best advice I've heard is learn lots of tunes and build your jazz vocabulary (i.e. licks or phrases).

    Transcribe vocab that you like even if it's just a lick or two from a solo you like. Don't just go with bass players, you can't go wrong learning some Charlie Parker lines. And when you find a line you like, analyze it in terms of the chord progression and see if you can figure out why it works.
  5. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Chord tones, upper extensions, chord scales (NOT modes), arpeggios, and most importantly, TONS OF TRANSCRIPTION. CANNOT BE CAPITALIZED ENOUGH.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Soloing is not a technique issue, but something better covered in General Instruction.

  7. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Get your blues scales down, and play like a drummer. A lot of Bass players will solo like a guitar or a Sax or some other instrument, which can work, but almost ALL solos work better if you think like a drummer. Rhythm first, notes later. It's also good especially in a bass solo to not be playing all the time. Play a little thing, and just leave some space in there. Play another thing. you really just have to feel it out. sort of like: Bu dudum BAda. bumba da daa bubudee dap. I don't know if that makes sense, but during Bass solos, where the other instruments are toned way down, and many times it's just a light Drum beat, you've really got to keep time and rhythm with your solos. You're still a bass player, after all, and you still have that Bass Player role to fulfill, EVEN if you're soloing. You can feel free to go way up high during your solo, but many players just sort of noodle in the upper registers, which gets kind of unoriginal. keep it cool, keep it interesting, keep the time, keep the space. Feel the groove. If you're a bass player, you should feel the groove all the time, since you're basically keeping it, and solos are no different.

    Source: 4 months playing Bass in College Jazz band, 5-6 years playing Bass overall. Take it for what you will, but that's what I've found makes an interesting, groovy, solid Bass solo.
  8. Don't try any of that stuff until you can play the melody of the tune you're working on. Move from a really straight reading of it and then start to improvise around the phrases.
    The melody gives you all the notes you need to start, since the harmony is just there to support it in the first place.
    It's even better if you work on tunes like this before you even look at the chords.
  9. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001

    What great advice that is..... and it is so much more pleasant to listen to than someone trying to cram pentatonic or dorian licks over every tune..... (guilty)
  10. fansor88


    Jan 25, 2012
    All great advice, and david makes a great point. It's easy to get bogged down in trying to learn theory, all the scales and modes, etc which is great to know, but I think using the main melody as your guide is vital. It makes your solo more relevant to the song and it's just a great place to start. Definitely listen to a lot of jazz and learn the parts of the other instruments not just the bass, it'll give you a different perspective on soloing. Miroslav vitous, ray brown, charles mingus are a few guys to check out. Also listen to the larry coryell album Spaces Revisited for some awesome ideas the bass player on that is Richard bona and his solo work is something worth looking into. Coryell actually has an album called Spaces and Miroslav Vitous is on that one so its interesting to notice the contrast between bona and vitous on the two albums
  11. fansor88


    Jan 25, 2012
    Hey atomicdog, I really wanted to check out that article you mentioned but you have to pay for it...
    Any chance you can post the article itself?
  12. +1

    There's this interview where Lee Konitz talks about an approach to improvisation based on a ten level system: level 1 is the main melody, level 2 is the melody with some embellishments, and so on, until you reach level 10, which Konitz calls "an act of pure inspiration" :bassist:
  13. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    Yes, I always learn the melody first. But...

    So the bandleader wants you to take a solo over Charlie Parker's Confirmation, or the all too commonly played Take Five.

    So you're going to embellish and solo around the melody? If you can do that, then you don't need advice from any of us. It's actually a much more advanced skill to play off the melody of tunes like these.

    Or, you're asked to solo on So What, this would be pretty common since the bass is already playing the melody. You're going to improve off that simple repetitive melody, that would get pretty boring real quick.

    Or 'Straight No Chaser' or 'Blue Monk'... I could go on and on with tunes that playing off the melody won't work too well and/or is just too advanced.

    From my observations most players, most of the time, solo around the chords and you need to know how to do that. Learning to apply scales and arps and licks, it's pretty standard that you learn that when you're first learning to improvise.

    I think some real advanced players don't make good instructors for beginner or intermediate students... they just can't relate. Maybe their ears were always so good they don't understand the challenges that folks with less innate ability have.

    If I can't hear the chord changes in a persons solo, most of the time it just doesn't sound like jazz to me (I guess I'm old school on this last point).
  14. devine


    Aug 22, 2006
    Hey Marty this is a BIG subject...

    Some pointers to get you going...

    Learn some jazz standards, concentrate on only a few at a time, and maybe stay with them for a month of so. Treat them as study pieces. Learn how to walk around them, then learn the melody. After that start looking at soloing etc.

    Choose easy-ish pieces to start with... Autumn Leaves and Blue Bossa are great for this.

    Study the chord sequences so you start to understand where the II V I's are etc... then try applying some stuff to the sequence.

    Try to solo with chord tones only first...

    I've done a video tutorial here about this subject that you can check out...

    Chord Tones Only/One Position Exercise | ScottsBassLessons.com

    Hope that's of some help mate.

    Check out website too... there's LOADS of video tutorials about soloing etc.

    ... Free Online Bass Lessons | ScottsBassLessons.com


  15. Just because Confirmation is notey doesn't mean it can't be used as a jumping point - bebop is still made up of melodies, they just go by a little faster
    Experiment with re-organizing the notes within each phrase
    Find ways to make phrases from one part of the tune fit over different sections through transposition or just substituting notes that don't fit
    Lengthen or shorten phrases
    This is all great stuff for the practice room - the more you work on that the quicker your ears get and the more spontaneously you can do it
    As for old school... all the great masters were masters of melody first foremost. Check out Coleman Hawkins on Body and Soul - he's playing lines but you can always hear the melody even as he develops away from it
  16. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    I do like to hear the melody... Something I recently discovered, singing the melody to myself during a drum solo. Some drummers are really good at playing a solo that 'has the melody in it'. And I've never heard a drummer that does that well that I didn't enjoy. I know that may sound weird but I don't know how else to explain it.
  17. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    Listened to Coleman's Body and Soul, that's some great jazz. And is a tune that is difficult for me to solo on. Perhaps some transcribing of this is something to put on my to do list.
  18. I just realized that the link doesn't have the whole recording - I really recommend tracking down the full version on iTunes
    One of the great classic solos
  19. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    LOL! That was my first throught when I read the OP: Geez, I've been playing jazz bass for over 30 years and I still haven't "conquered" walking!

    To the OP: The best advice I can give on soloing is this

    Have something to say

    It's not just notes. If you're not finding a way to express an idea, a concept, an emotion, a feeling, if you're not singing a melody...you're just wanking.

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