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#2980389 - 03/16/19 04:05 PM Originals - do you write out your solos?
J. Dan Offline
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This is a follow-on to my previous post about dexterity. I'm working on my practice exercises but also writing solos. One tool I'm using is to use ASD (amazing slow downer) to take our tracks from rehearsal, mute me, and then slow it down and try to deliberately write parts instead of noodling.

So then what? I'm making notes, like "do this for 2 measures then that for 2 measures)...but I'm finding like my normal cover improve, I have anchor points that I do the same then random inprov connecting the dots, but I want to be more deliberate. What do you do? Some of these are some pretty fast interludes and I don't want to just to basic scales and random patterns but come up with something very deliberate and determined.

One reason is because the band has indicated that they would like, in some brief sections, to all come together with the solo in a way, whether a drum fill, harmonization, etc, even just for a couple beats.
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#2980391 - 03/16/19 04:15 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: J. Dan]
GregC Offline
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Looks like this is in your band or rehearsal context.

And you are creating some written crib notes to hold on to your context of riffs.

I couldn't keep a manual record very easily. I bang out solos using the SEQ.
Having the SEQ and song file as a reference does the job for me. Especially as my
originals grow and grow. Possibly my context and SEQ use would not apply.


Edited by GregC (03/16/19 04:16 PM)
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#2980395 - 03/16/19 05:21 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: GregC]
J. Dan Offline
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I'm specifically talking about the transition between hashing things out in rehearsal and the final product when you finally take it to the studio, related to the writing process.
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#2980402 - 03/17/19 12:17 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: J. Dan]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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In a jazz context, I was surprised to hear, from reliable source, a person, not the Net,
That Chick Corea wrote out ideas related to soloing for an album, or maybe many albums.

Also, I was told by someone who knows Herbie Hancock... Herbie wrote out ( maybe transcribed or partly transcribed, that I do not know ) 8 CHORUSES of Blues!! I am not sure of the application, whether a project or just to be a better Blues soloist.
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#2980415 - 03/17/19 04:23 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
CountFosco Offline
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Of course write it out when you've nailed it. Otherwise you'll find yourself transcribing your own work in a couple of years, when you could have done it right off the bat. Don't let the my-chops-muscles-are-bigger-than-your-chops-muscles set make you think you need a new solo every time you play your own song. Save yourself the stress and write it out.

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#2980420 - 03/17/19 05:39 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: CountFosco]
dongna Offline
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I absolutely do.

It's so easy with software. I can't think of a good reason -not- to. Any good original idea is worth writing down.

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#2980442 - 03/17/19 09:16 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: dongna]
Sundown Offline
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I don't play in a band, so obviously I don't do unison lines, but my best solos occur when the red light is on and they are improvised. Occasionally something really special will happen and I'll say to myself "Where did that come from?"

There is a tune I'm working on right now where the solo needs to be a lot more deliberate, and in that case, I'm piecing it together bit by bit. But since I don't read really well, writing it down (or converting it to notation) wouldn't help that much.
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#2980474 - 03/17/19 01:12 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Sundown]
David Loving Offline
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I subscribe to the Frank Zappa school of soloing: "My theory is this: I have a basic mechanical knowledge of the operation of the instrument and I got an imagination. And when the time comes up for me to play a solo, itís me against the laws of nature. I donít know what Iím gonna play and donít know what Iím gonna do. I know roughly how long I have to do it, and itís a game where you have a piece of time and you get to decorate itÖĒ Solos should be always from the hip, except for all the piano solos on "Kind of Blue," the album with my favorite piano solos. OTOH it's OK to quote favorite licks.



Edited by David Loving (03/17/19 01:22 PM)
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#2980476 - 03/17/19 01:18 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
David Loving Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
In a jazz context, I was surprised to hear, from reliable source, a person, not the Net,
That Chick Corea wrote out ideas related to soloing for an album, or maybe many albums.

Also, I was told by someone who knows Herbie Hancock... Herbie wrote out ( maybe transcribed or partly transcribed, that I do not know ) 8 CHORUSES of Blues!! I am not sure of the application, whether a project or just to be a better Blues soloist.


They just don't want to forget licks they've copped.
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#2980477 - 03/17/19 01:41 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: David Loving]
marino Offline
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I'm a jazzer at heart, but even in different situations like rock or funk or whatever, I absolutely try to start out a solo in a neutral state, as blank as possible. I've found that starting a solo with predefined patterns is an hindrance to the development of what comes next. I certainly have a few favorite combinations of notes, but I never know in advance which ones I'm going to use in a particular solo, or when.

I have nothing against others writing out their solos, but it's just not for me. After all, improvising with freedom is one of the peaks of the joy of making music. That's why we study all these years... smile

Edit: What I just said could sound a bit unrealistic... very few solos can be completely fresh and new, and of course there's the mood and style of the song to take into account. But I still prefer not to be restricted by predefined licks. Very often, at the start of a solo, I get inspired by what has been played before. That keeps the juices flowing.


Edited by marino (03/17/19 01:47 PM)

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#2980478 - 03/17/19 01:41 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: J. Dan]
Steve Nathan Offline
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Iím not much of a Jazz player, but in my world, if you write it out beforehand itís not a solo. I would call that an instrumental.
Iíll wait here quietly for my lashing now.
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#2980482 - 03/17/19 02:30 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Steve Nathan]
Reezekeys Offline
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I'm with Steve here. If someone tells me to "take a solo" that means I'm improvising. There are exceptions though. Back in my wedding band days if we did "Good Lovin'" I played Felix's organ solo Ė it's somewhat iconic, and it just sounded dumb to do something different. Certain solos have achieved that status (Phil Wood's sax solo on Just the Way You Are is one, I think). I consider them part of the arrangement as they're burned into our consciousness over years of listening. I know that in jazz education, transcribing and playing a famous solo is supposed to help one's development of soloing abilities. I never saw it that way myself but whatever works for each person is fine.

Anyway, it sounds like Dan is talking about composing a solo, not improvising one. As a jazz guy I always looked at a solo as a challenge to put together an interesting sequence of notes with no preconceived ideas, on the spur of the moment. Sometimes I hit and sometimes I miss Ė that's the nature of the game. If Dan or anyone else gets satisfaction from doing it differently though, I say it's fine. I've never written out a solo myself though.

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#2980483 - 03/17/19 02:34 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Reezekeys]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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This man, a true genius, has this contribution:

"There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.

This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflections, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician.

Group improvisation is a further challenge. Aside from the weighty technical problem of collective coherent thinking, there is the very human, even social need for sympathy from all members to bend for the common result. This most difficult problem, I think, is beautifully met and solved on this recording.

As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time,. Miles Davis presents here frameworks which are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with sure reference to the primary conception.

Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore, you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without exception the first complete performance of each was a "take."

--- Bill Evans
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#2980488 - 03/17/19 02:58 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
timwat Online   content
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IMHO a lot depends on the genre in question. I think here, Dan, are you talking about progressive metal?

There is a spectrum of approaches we've seen in prog and related genre. Several examples of folks wanting approach more from the jazz sensibility (completely improvised, never the same way twice, play the mood and the notes will come). And there are more than a few examples of approaching it from more a classical sensibility.

This was a big source of friction between Eddie Jobson and Allan Holdsworth in the original UK, so we're told. Jobson wanted every instrumental feature / solo note-for-note from the record, and Holdsworth wanted them to be 'solo spots' in the way several here are describing them. I'm not sure anyone is saying one way is the 'right' way or the 'wrong' way...just starkly different from each other. So much so that Holdsworth and Bruford left the group before the 2nd record.

A different example; I'm told that Pat Metheny completely improvises his recorded solos...sort of. To be specific, he improvises the solo on record. Then he goes home and transcribes it, every note. Then he overdubs that same solo - note-for-note - but perfectly executed. That's the version we have on the records.

All to say this, as I read the last sentence of the OP (what the band wants to be able to do - join in for a unison or counterpoint phrase or similar), it sort of leans more toward prior preparation and composition. Which leans more toward writing stuff out as you work it through. This might lead you to more thoroughly and deliberately explore different ways of approaching scales and modes, introducing synth techniques (filter adjustments, modulation events, noise and other atonal artifacts, etc.) as part of the solo, rather than the primarily 'develop the line' approach that pure improv moves along.

Dunno if any of that helps.
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#2980504 - 03/17/19 04:58 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: timwat]
Al Quinn Offline
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I usually like to improvise when given the opportunity to solo. However, I can remember more than once in a fusion context back in the 80ís where I couldnít reliably create a solo that was good enough for public consumption. So, I composed a solo that I liked. It was a combination of my improvisational skills not being up to the task at hand and a need to not sound mediocre. Dan, if this kind of describes how youíre feeling then I see nothing wrong with composing your solo.
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#2980507 - 03/17/19 05:26 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Al Quinn]
GovernorSilver Offline
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Lee Konitz had some thoughts on which jazz musicians wrote out their solos and who didn't in this book - for example, his observations of Charlier Parker is based on touring with Bird and analyzing his solos night after night....
https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Konitz-Conversations-Improvisers-Perspectives/dp/0472032178

There was a recent Louis Armstrong-themed podcast which stated that Satchmo would improvise until he settled on a solo that he really liked for a tune, then would play only that particular solo


Edited by GovernorSilver (03/17/19 05:31 PM)
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#2980508 - 03/17/19 05:49 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Al Quinn]
JerryA Offline
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Dan, it's an excellent question with many points of view. There's not much advice I can give to to add to what you received here. I agree it's wise to be genre conscious. Since this is a progmetal/neoprog band, speed really matters and there is not a high level of tolerance (as there is in jazz and jazz fusion) for more contemplative moments in a solo. However, even on something like Pat Metheny's "Are you going with me" for example ... individual performances may vary but you know that there are a couple of distinctive fretboard patterns he is going to draw on ... every-single-time.

In your genre, when you have 16 (or 24 or 32) measures you have to make them count. I suggest you develop the vocabulary by jamming several times, then recording and transcribing the jams. This can allow you to assemble a completely thought through solo from end to end (as Rudess, Sherinian and Pinella do) or ad lib parts of the solo, drawing on these bits as needed (as Jens Johannsen frequently does). It's safe to assume that the band would like you to end in a climax and that they can help you get there with a bit of pre-arranging. It's better to err on the side of being over-prepared. You might enjoy Chick Corea's discussion of the myth of improvisation which we kicked around here.

On the theme of preparation, this excellent analysis of Cory Henry's Lingus solo may also be of interest to you ...




I hope this helps.

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#2980509 - 03/17/19 06:11 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: JerryA]
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#2980515 - 03/17/19 07:42 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Outkaster]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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A few forgotten principles to add to this

One Man's food, is another Man's poison... and variations, is true.

"Vive la difference" ..should be encouraged.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

When anyone reaches the heights of jazz icons like fill in the blank,
you are free to do whatever you wish.
Most musicians who would be so foolish ( see Emerson above ) as to criticize Satchmo, Coltrane etc.. obviously are arm chair wannabes, likely suffering from envy.
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#2980519 - 03/17/19 08:57 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
waygetter Offline
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Back in the day (when I was a much younger keys player), through some crazy chance and circumstance, I managed to play with some pretty damn good players. This was mostly in the world of rock. And nobody ever wrote anything down. That's more likely because nobody read or wrote out musical notation. Maybe some scratched out lyric sheets with some chords here and there, that was about it. Everyone played and composed by ear.

However, we recorded a lot. We would record the shit out of everything. And when it came to solos, often times we would take bits and pieces from take 1, take 2, take 3, etc, and fashion them into a musical story. Sometimes it would happen in one take, but more often than not it would be an amalgamation of multiple takes. And that wasn't just for solos, it was for everything.

I consider that part of the production process. And sometimes you - as the musician - might not hear it, but the producer or the songwriter might. Great producers often help to craft compelling music by extracting great performances when you least expect it.

And depending on the scenario, there might be a lot of prep prior to recording, or sometimes you would come in cold and make stuff up on the fly.
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#2980520 - 03/17/19 10:06 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: waygetter]
hardware Offline
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I love transcribing and sometimes need half speed especially for Charlie Parker Bee Bop solos, i.e. Bloomdingo.

I donít write out my solos but from transcribing my favorite songs/Solos I get plenty of ideas worth stealing.

If youíre writing down anything thatís great.
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#2980690 - 03/19/19 03:29 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: hardware]
Guven Ilter Offline
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^^^^ This...

For me, the best way to learn a tune, or to develop ideas is like writing lyrics. Playing a few ideas and transcribing them, or transcribing someone else's solo helps me grasp the flow of the tune.
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#2980823 - 03/19/19 03:18 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Guven Ilter]
J. Dan Offline
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For the song I'm working on now, I think I'm going to write it out. In fact, I think I'm going to mix down all the tracks but mine, use ASD to slow it down, and be pretty meticulous about precise runs between some of my "anchor points" of my current solo. Currently I've been doing a lot of improv - some of it awesome, some of it more or less just noodling but still cool, sometimes tripping myself up. But the nature of this ending is that (keep in mind drummer, bass, 2 guitars, keys, singer) there is a lot of interplay going on and we are trying to integrate some partial reprises of parts earlier in the song and migrate together to sort of a unison of the main hook at the very end.

One of the guitars and my self are taking turns playing a riff while the other solos (switch and the other one plays the same riff while the other solos). So I have to easily transition between the riff and a solo at the appropriate times, and our solos need to each migrate to the common hook (different from the riff) at the end. On top of that, they want to work in something in the middle where maybe some little run in the solo gets joined by the rest of the band maybe just for a measure or even a couple beats before they go back to their rhythm, including the drum part accenting it.

So all of this really, I'm starting to feel, requires being pretty deliberate in the writing of the parts so that everybody can write their parts and interact accordingly. That is for the recording....I'm sure live we'll go off script every time, but I don't want us each doing a million takes until we get lucky and happen to catch the magic.
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#2980850 - 03/19/19 05:59 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: J. Dan]
New&Improv Offline
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Funny that this topic comes up today, I just spent a couple hours "composing" a solo. My band is doing a recording/video session this weekend, and at our last rehearsal decided that (a) we are recording a new tune we just wrote, and (b) I'm going to take the main solo in it. Normally, I'm an improv purist when it comes to solos, but in this case, we haven't played the tune out yet, so there hasn't been a chance to throw notes at the wall and see what sticks. Also, the solo has to kind of lead from one part to to another. Basically, what I'm doing is writing the beginning, which has a call and response thing going with the horns, and the end, that leads to the next section. Will probably still improvise the middle.
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#2980887 - 03/19/19 10:15 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: waygetter]
elseif Offline
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Originally Posted By: waygetter
... when it came to solos, often times we would take bits and pieces from take 1, take 2, take 3, etc, and fashion them into a musical story. Sometimes it would happen in one take, but more often than not it would be an amalgamation of multiple takes. And that wasn't just for solos, it was for everything.

I consider that part of the production process. And sometimes you - as the musician - might not hear it, but the producer or the songwriter might. Great producers often help to craft compelling music by extracting great performances when you least expect it.
I was asked to play some soprano and tenor solos for a recording, sort of a funk/jazz thing. The producer had me record four or five versions of each from which he would pick-and-choose sections to craft the solos for the recording. He said he did that all the time, even when he hired famous players (which I am not). I thought that was unusual but he said it is commonly done.

BTW, those were not written out. The first time I heard the material was when I showed up for the gig.

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#2981040 - 03/21/19 03:57 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: elseif]
Darcity Offline
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Write out solos?! Whereís the fun in that? My soloing depends upon how Iím feeling, what Iím feeling, and the connection of the musicians at the time. Iíve played the same song with different solos depending on the other accompanying musicians. I will Say however that Iíve gone back and attempted to learn my solos again (pain in the butt) because of a particular line that I liked but seldom got the same feel.
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#2981041 - 03/21/19 04:38 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Darcity]
Legatoboy Offline
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you don't do that in traditional modern Jazz, Blues or Roots music often but you could for other musics Ö. it's your line, why not write it out and respect it....but that wouldn't be right for some musics...also depends on the project and the vibe within the group...but generally no...unless it's a 'Head' or a 'Line' for me! Ö
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#2981052 - 03/21/19 06:32 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Legatoboy]
chigson Offline
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Never did that in my little experience. There are times when I'll listen to my playing and then will transcribe some moments that I enjoyed most, to see what happened there, as you can't reflect on it while you are in the middle of playing.
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#2981085 - 03/21/19 10:17 AM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: chigson]
Soot 29 Offline
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I've never written out a solo, but in the past (both with bands and on my own recordings) I would practice a solo so that I had a fairly detailed framework mapped out. I did this primarily out of fear...fear that I would go blank or flub something and so on. But I eventually stopped that for several reasons. One is that if you play a rehearsed or composed solo then the solo isn't reflecting what's happening in the moment and may not really fit into the piece the way it should. I'm not a great improviser at all but nowadays I just wing it. It's making me a better player. It's far more interesting...if a bit scary. And it's taught me there's a huge difference between playing all the "right" notes and playing something that really works. Sometimes you even surprise yourself with how good a solo sounds even though you didn't think it was "perfect" when you played it. Just my two cents. No right or wrong here.
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#2981635 - 03/24/19 07:57 PM Re: Originals - do you write out your solos? [Re: Steve Nathan]
kanker. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Steve Nathan
Iím not much of a Jazz player, but in my world, if you write it out beforehand itís not a solo. I would call that an instrumental.
I would agree with this - essentially you're creating a part by writing out the solo rather than improvising.

With Dan's further elucidation that he's really focusing on getting things 'right' between him and the guitar player while they trade off, I can see why he would want to have something prepared for the recording, and then be willing to be more improvisational live. It's kind of the best of both worlds.

PS - people don't use the word elucidation often enough.... rawk laugh gofish
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A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.

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