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What is your approach to soloing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Duce-hands, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010

    So I'm struggling with soloing. What i understand about soloing, is it is about phrasing and note selection. I use chord tones, passing notes and extensions of the chord but it just does not sound "right" to me. I can mirror solos that I've heard but struggle to come up with anything original. I particularly struggle with improv phrasing over jazz tunes, and funk tunes like Red Clay and Chameleon. Any suggestions to help out is appreciated
  2. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Usually a varition of the vocal melody is a good place to start.
    Then add your own personality to it.
    If no vocal, then solo off the main instrument's melody.
  3. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    This pulls it together for the harmonic side:


    Transcribing (and analyzing) solos and melodies is also a big return for your investment of time. Do not limit yourself to just bass solos. The source of the music does not matter. If you hear and dig it, learn it regardless of whether it's Jimi's guitar work on Little Wing, a horn line, vocal part, or Paul Chambers. We all start out as mimics so go mimic as much as you can.
    Do not forget to pay close attention to things like dynamics, phrasing, timbre, etc..etc.. (2-10 or the stuff besides the "notes") Sometimes these things are more important than the notes, i.e. B.B. King.
    Like the Nike slogan says, "Just Do It." You will play what you practice.

  4. Hapa


    Apr 21, 2011
    Tustin, CA
    let the other guys go first.
    Know the melody as good as the lead player
    count as best as I can, or have a drummer that can let me sit in his pocket
    play in, give a little flash, play out, play in
  5. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    My approach to soloing? Cue the guitarist. :D
  6. Staying in key and use Arpeggios and Pentatonic scales...
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I don't generally solo, but when I do, I avoid pure improv.
    I don't trust my self to avoid bad notes when completely winging it.
    I map it out ahead of time, leaving a few spots to noodle.
    At every important change in the harmony I know exactly where on the neck I'll be.
  8. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    My approach to soloing is to create an interesting melodic curve with good phrasing. For note choice, I went through that phase of going through every chord and assigning it a mode, but all that stuff really is is a major scale. So using the key to your advantage, and making sure any secondary dominants get the correct 3rd and upper extensions is important. And of course when playing in the key it's necessary, once you're comfortable with all the basics, to make use of chromatic tones to provide variety and to momentarily tonicize a different key center, and bring it back. This just takes a lot (A LOT) of practice and TRANSCRIPTION.
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I once asked the great jazz guitarist Barney Kessel this very question, and his answer was:

    "Well, I've been playing guitar for 47 years, and missed 12 days of practicing out of all that time. Obviously, I know all the notes, scales, chords, etc. Usually, the drummer or somebody does something, and I respond to THAT." :smug:

    Down to mortal level again, I can recommend one angle: Think about the overall shape: Start out with something related to the melody, gradually develop and embellish it, and end on a high note. Listen to Stevie Wonder's harmonica solo on "For Once in My Life." Another good one is Eric Clapton's solo on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." (His was supposedly a first take.)
    Also, think about concepts like call and response, and even numbers. When you listen to Duane Allman's incredible solos on the Allman Brothers' Fillmore East shows, he naturally and effortlessly groups things into twos, fours, eights (I'm talking about measures OR phrases), and he also uses call and response to sound like he's having a conversation. (One phrase "raises a question" and the next one "answers it".)
    In fact, I think it's very helpful to think about music as a language-- it makes sense that most listeners will be able to follow, and enjoy, a coherent musical statement, while a repetitive blizzard of notes will sound like a person screaming the same idiotic syllables over and over.
    Just my $.02.
  10. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I don't really have an approach other than reproducing what I hear in my head on my instrument. I do more melodic solos or "themes" really, usually borrowing a melody of phrase from somewhere else in the song and expanding on it. I've never really been interesting in soloing outside the context of a song.
  11. I am with DougJWray on this one. I like to use the basic riff or melody line as the foundation and build variations from there. Kind of like the Coltrane version of Favorite Things. I also like to play off the drummer's rhythms and the guitar/vocal melody. A little call and response never hurts either. I try to stay relevant to the musical conversation and kind of think of it as making a really strong point. I play with a great group of listeners so it does make things a little easier as we all kind of play off each other anyway. Don't be too uptight about it either. I find that if I just let it flow it always sounds better than when I am thinking too much. Oh yeah, practice, practice practice. My 2 cents.
  12. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    But seriously... Know the chords. A lot of bass players are used to playing riff-oriented bass lines and don't necessarily know what the chords of the song are.
  13. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010
    I appreciate the information. For a little context let me explain, I jam in an improv setting were there is no concept other than grooving off one another. Someone starts playing a riff, lick, or chord and everyone else fills in til you have something going. It maybe jazz, latin, r&b, rock, etc etc etc. And within that scenario everyone gets an opportunity to "go in" and when its my turn, I'm feeling BLAH!!!! I play a solid groove but the solo portion is terrible.
  14. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    A solo just means that I can then play those extra little licks in that I can't play during the song for fear of playing "lead bass." I don't try to be particularly fast, just tasty. I can't explain that exactly. Anyway, the point is to not try, but just let it happen, following the changes, and keeping a groove about it.

    Articulation is everything.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I try to continue the conversation and groove I was having with the other instruments when I was playing the bassline. It's just my turn to tell the melodic story now is all that's different.
  16. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Make melodies. Remember also that you don't necc. have to improvise every note. Work some things out ahead of time, and maybe just change one aspect of your performance each night (change the rhythm, or note order, or the speed).
  17. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    learn solos and dont analyze the harmony. analyze everything else. what are you hearing in terms of rhythm,call and response, motivic development, etc. its easy to get lost in all the possible notes you can play and you forget youre supposed to be playing music.
  18. Count Drugula

    Count Drugula

    Aug 2, 2012
    You may find Victor Wooten's thoughts on the subject edifying:
  19. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    Depends on what style you are playing
    The old jazz player practise like :

    At first they solo by all using chord tones.
    Then they add approach notes between the chord tones and the chord tone fall on the downbeats of the bar. (Jeff Berlin have some nice video on YouTube )

    Then you add scale notes on your line serve as extension. You can play triad pair and not necessary play them ascending or descending

    Then u start Those substitution

    In playing, make sure the phrasing are short and simple just like singing, otherwise it will sound too academic
  20. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Adam Nitti is very interesting on the subject. But it is more in a jazz context but still, it is useful knowledge on whatever you want to play.


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