Creating Your First Solo

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An article by Todd Simpson

-Creating your Own "Style" Starts Here:

When building a solo, (and each solo builds what will become your own "style" of play), it's important to be able to create phrase ideas/themes etc. without even touching the guitar. So that eventually, when you hear a bit of music, your creative drive will start mapping out where the solo might go long before you pick up an instrument. At that point, the play is more about execution since much of the experimentation can be done very quickly in your head. This takes time, but you can audition tons of licks in your head against a given backing, then pick which ones to try. But for now...

1.)Take another pass at the solo and start by just listening and trying to hear where the notes want to be played and where they want to be silent. By listening to the backing by itself, without a guitar in hand, your brain will have to work on the creative part long before the technical comes into play.

2.)Once you have an idea where the notes might go, try to play what you heard in your head. This can take time to find on the neck. Also keep in mind our "Solo Basics"

-All soloing is TENSION AND RELEASE. Setting it up and paying if off. So build tension with bends and ascending scales, then feel where the "resolution" wants to be and land on a ROOT note. Make sure to map the roots out ahead of time. :)

-Focus on creating a Start, Middle and End. Just like a good story, a solo should take you someplace. If the licks are simply strung together, the listener can somehow tell. If the licks are flowing in response to the backing and where it's wanting to take the lead, the listener can tell that as well, even if they can't articulate it.

-Don't worry too much about technique at this stage. You can always add a bit of flash as you go. The most important thing at the early stage is let the backing guide you. Think of the solo as a discussion between friends. Both parties are saying their bit, and since they are friends it sounds harmonious. The conversation shouldn't be too one sided, even though the soloist is playing the part of "responder" to the backing tracks "call". (Call and Response, yet another very important element in creating memorable solos) Through the interplate of the backing (the call) and the solo (the response) something new is created that reflects both. Make sense? :)