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> Making Solos Great
Ben Higgins
post Sep 10 2013, 02:19 PM
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I was writing some text for an upcoming lesson and it got me thinking more about this subject. What makes a great solo ? Of course, there's loads of guitar playing elements that go into this but, casting them aside for the purpose of this thread, what else can influence this factor ?

In my opinion, it's about the actual music that's occurring during the solo. The chord progression. To me, the chord progression is infinitely important to the overall effect. On the contrary, a bare backing with a thudding bass playing the root note can yield inspirational results as you have free reign to explore loads of modal possibilities, like we did in our recent Desert Bus Collab. But I do believe that with a strong chord progression, it's half the battle won. I've included some text I wrote on the subject..

When the chords in the background are strong, then you don't have to add a lot to make the lead really complement it. Use the chords to your advantage. You only have to throw in a few, well timed, well restrained phrases and the combination of good chord structure and tasteful lead playing will give great results.

Think about all the great guitar solos of the world. Which ones are always at the top of every list ? Hotel California, Stairway to Heaven. Imagine the solos by themselves if the chords were not there in the background. The solos would not sound so impressive. It's the marriage of great lead melodies to great chord progressions that create classics.


I'm interested to hear your thoughts and some more examples of solos that you think benefited from a great chord progression inderneath it.


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Terence
post Sep 10 2013, 02:45 PM
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Well, there a tons of Solos one could mention here. A simple Solo I personally like is this one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H5NW7VPp0Q

Beginning at 1:08 with a heavy rhythm change, getting beautifully surrounded by short vocal breaks beginning at 1:28 onwards smile.gif

It really has those well timed simple phrases you mentioned smile.gif
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klasaine
post Sep 10 2013, 03:22 PM
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Though I agree that a great set of backing chord changes can really help make a solo and/or influence what one plays, I would disagree that it needs to. The two examples you gave - Hotel CA and Stairway - are indeed great. But not because of their backing. Those two solos are outstanding because even without the chord changes behind them, the players play over the changes - they imply the chord changes. They hit chord tones and weave their lines melodically and musically from one chord into the next. Even without the backing you'd be able to 'hear' the changes. In Stairway, when does Page hit that first big 'F' note? Or, in Hotel CA what's the first note in the second measure of the first solo?
Can a cool set of chord changes help influence and maybe direct the solo? Of course, but a great instrumental solo or great vocal melody can exist on it's own.
The best players - the ones that stand the test of time and taste in any genre - always make the changes. From the most basic of blues to shred. What do Albert King, Paco de Lucia and Yngwie have in common? When it goes to the IV chord, they nail it.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Sep 10 2013, 04:11 PM


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Sep 10 2013, 07:25 PM
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Ben!! You shared the secret! biggrin.gif

I can't agree more with this. You won't find any great solo that hasn't an amazing chord progression happening on the backing. You just have to check the most fantastic solos you've ever heard and you will discover that the secret is there. There are lots of examples to check... Ozzy Osbourne's albums solos, Gun's & Roses solos (Slash's and also Chinese Democracy), Pantera's solos, and many others.

Let me share some examples:









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sammetal92
post Sep 10 2013, 07:54 PM
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I'm no expert, I'm only starting out writing my own solos, but I always thought the Phrasing is more important than the notes you choose and the chords you play unsure.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Sep 11 2013, 08:34 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Sep 10 2013, 03:22 PM) *
Though I agree that a great set of backing chord changes can really help make a solo and/or influence what one plays, I would disagree that it needs to. The two examples you gave - Hotel CA and Stairway - are indeed great. But not because of their backing. Those two solos are outstanding because even without the chord changes behind them, the players play over the changes - they imply the chord changes. They hit chord tones and weave their lines melodically and musically from one chord into the next. Even without the backing you'd be able to 'hear' the changes. In Stairway, when does Page hit that first big 'F' note? Or, in Hotel CA what's the first note in the second measure of the first solo?
Can a cool set of chord changes help influence and maybe direct the solo? Of course, but a great instrumental solo or great vocal melody can exist on it's own.
The best players - the ones that stand the test of time and taste in any genre - always make the changes. From the most basic of blues to shred. What do Albert King, Paco de Lucia and Yngwie have in common? When it goes to the IV chord, they nail it.


I hear you but I kind of think you're disagreeing on something that we probably agree on in truth. Without a chord progression in the background there would be no changes to play. Yes, you could say that the changes are implied with the note choices there, but they were only there because the chords were there first. The solos were a reaction to the bed of music that was created.

QUOTE (sammetal92 @ Sep 10 2013, 07:54 PM) *
I'm no expert, I'm only starting out writing my own solos, but I always thought the Phrasing is more important than the notes you choose and the chords you play unsure.gif


Phrasing includes the notes you choose. The way you group notes together, and the way you rest on certain notes and not others.. this is all part of phrasing.

Btw, the point of thread is not to say that the underlying chord changes are more important than the other elements. It's just to highlight how important the chords are smile.gif


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Monica Gheorghev...
post Sep 11 2013, 08:49 AM
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In my opinion, the both (chords progression and solo)are important to make a good solo. A great solo without a good chord progression it dosen't have the same impact. But a strong progression without a good melody for solo it will be nothing. I don't think there something is less important.
You must have a good combination between chord progression, choosing notes for solo, phrasing, dynamics and choosing the right tone. All of that are important even if that solo will durring only 40 sec. And a very important thing for my taste, a solo must be built like a song. Must have begin and end. I saw a lot of players making their solo like a piece from another song.
So, in the end to respond at your thread, the chords have a BIG importance for a great solo. We make a solo over the chords smile.gif

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: Sep 11 2013, 09:44 AM
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sammetal92
post Sep 11 2013, 09:09 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Sep 11 2013, 07:34 AM) *
Btw, the point of thread is not to say that the underlying chord changes are more important than the other elements. It's just to highlight how important the chords are smile.gif


Right! smile.gif That's why lead guitarists don't really look that good soloing without any chords playing in the background laugh.gif But on a serious note, I think the choice of chords as well as how they're played (i.e. strumming patterns, arpeggiated etc) also adds to the impact, just my opinion smile.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Sep 11 2013, 10:47 AM
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First thing coming to my mind:



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verciazghra
post Sep 11 2013, 06:41 PM
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Personally I don't find that there's any specific part of music that is more important than the other. If you have a static chord progression or no movement in it, or a very repetitive movement, it will become stagnant. My view is that neither makes up the music and that the notes you chose is as important as how you use them, what rhythms and so on and that you develop your motifs and also let the chords not be always the same voicing or a static time so that it's just an immobile object.

What I see most guitar players do is whail upon a few well established blues/rock cliché over static chord progressions all day. That's not really anything to me.

This post has been edited by verciazghra: Sep 11 2013, 06:42 PM


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Headbanger
post Sep 11 2013, 07:33 PM
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Does a chord progression have to be in the background to sound better if the solo is made up from embellished chords?..Primarily I am thinking Hendrix solos. I know the chords where outlined by the bass lines...but they weren't chords. huh.gif
Just thinking aloud and thought I'd write it here! biggrin.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Sep 11 2013, 09:53 PM
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QUOTE (verciazghra @ Sep 11 2013, 05:41 PM) *



Personally I don't find that there's any specific part of music that is more important than the other. If you have a static chord progression or no movement in it, or a very repetitive movement, it will become stagnant. My view is that neither makes up the music and that the notes you chose is as important as how you use them, what rhythms and so on and that you develop your motifs and also let the chords not be always the same voicing or a static time so that it's just an immobile object.

What I see most guitar players do is whail upon a few well established blues/rock cliché over static chord progressions all day. That's not really anything to me.


Music has to tell a story, even if it's long or short, so repetitiveness should be balanced as well as diversity. Every element weighs a lot in a song smile.gif Technique, melody, orchestration, a strong vocal line... Everything counts, but there are some times when something really stands out - I think that's the purpose of this thread - making people find out what they really like in a particular song - in this case the chord progression - so their road to understanding how to build something with a similar effect will be shorter smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Sep 12 2013, 08:30 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Sep 11 2013, 09:53 PM) *
Music has to tell a story, even if it's long or short, so repetitiveness should be balanced as well as diversity. Every element weighs a lot in a song smile.gif Technique, melody, orchestration, a strong vocal line... Everything counts, but there are some times when something really stands out - I think that's the purpose of this thread - making people find out what they really like in a particular song - in this case the chord progression - so their road to understanding how to build something with a similar effect will be shorter smile.gif


Yes, that's right. This thread isn't saying that choosing the chord progression is more important than other elements, it's just highlighting how important it is, because very few people talk about it when mentioning solo composition. smile.gif


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verciazghra
post Sep 13 2013, 02:16 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Sep 12 2013, 07:30 AM) *
Yes, that's right. This thread isn't saying that choosing the chord progression is more important than other elements, it's just highlighting how important it is, because very few people talk about it when mentioning solo composition. smile.gif

Well, I think about every part of a composition when I compose. I haven't used a straight major or minor chord in years tho so I guess I'm not the best person to ask. I like chords that modulate, hold tension, and speak for themselves as an addition to a solo part. For me the chord part must be as interesting to listen to without the solo part as with the solo part and they have to balance between each other dynamically. But I'm a musical weirdo with complexity as my main taste. Intricate, beautiful arrangements is my style and my passion.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Sep 13 2013, 02:35 PM
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QUOTE (verciazghra @ Sep 13 2013, 01:16 PM) *
Well, I think about every part of a composition when I compose. I haven't used a straight major or minor chord in years tho so I guess I'm not the best person to ask. I like chords that modulate, hold tension, and speak for themselves as an addition to a solo part. For me the chord part must be as interesting to listen to without the solo part as with the solo part and they have to balance between each other dynamically. But I'm a musical weirdo with complexity as my main taste. Intricate, beautiful arrangements is my style and my passion.


And that's a very good thing mate - if this is your 'voice' NEVER EVER shy away from using it! There are not so many people who know what they want and who they are and they can also express it through an art - out of what I have noticed, you are on the good path in these matters, so keep going on your way!


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Caelumamittendum
post Sep 13 2013, 03:13 PM
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Speaking of telling a story with your playing, Scott Henderson has some great advice in his Melodic Phrasing instructional video. Here's a clip:



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Cosmin Lupu
post Sep 14 2013, 04:56 PM
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If you haven't had the occasion - Scot Henderson's 'Tore Down House' album is a phenomenal piece of work!

Check out my favorite piece:



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Caelumamittendum
post Sep 16 2013, 10:54 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Sep 14 2013, 05:56 PM) *
If you haven't had the occasion - Scot Henderson's 'Tore Down House' album is a phenomenal piece of work!

Check out my favorite piece:



I've never actually heard his albums. Only his works with other guys. His instructional stuff is great though!


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Cosmin Lupu
post Sep 17 2013, 08:11 AM
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QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Sep 16 2013, 09:54 AM) *
I've never actually heard his albums. Only his works with other guys. His instructional stuff is great though!


You can also check out 'Dog party' another great album of his! biggrin.gif


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PosterBoy
post Sep 17 2013, 02:39 PM
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Hitting chord tones and using arpeggios or parts of arpeggios as the basis of the solo rather than playing scales over the changes as if they weren't there.

If the chord progression is a good one, use it as much as possible in your soloing!!!


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