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Rock Solos


Alchemist

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I never took much music theory and have played mainly jazz so what I know about theory is just from my jazz lessons.

 

When I play in rock bands, my solos don't, they don't rock. I'm wondering why the musical theory behind solos like comfortably numb and time make people get chills (well me at least) but other solos are just solos that don't incur emotion.

 

What is it about them? Sorry for the vagueness. It's hard expressing your ideas when typing on an iPhone.

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This post is TOTALLY spot on. +100

 

Remember the feeling you go NOT getting laid playing jazz. Take that feeling out on the piano. That = rock. :laugh:

 

Not that he's gonna get laid playing keys, even if it's rock :rolleyes:

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I'm wondering why the musical theory behind solos like comfortably numb and time make people get chills (well me at least) but other solos are just solos that don't incur emotion.

 

Tension and release, Consonance and dissonance. 2nds, 7ths, 9ths etc create tension. A dominant V creates tension. Resolving to I triggers a release. Resolving to VI creates a state of suspension and prolongation, making the listener wait for the resolution to I.

 

There are many specific changes etc that trigger emotions. Suspensions and passing tones are usually the culprits. Ye olde Circle of Fifths is usually chock full of suspensions in practice, which is why it makes people feel a certain way.

 

I never took much music theory

It's never too late. :cool: Once one learns what each chord can do, that's where the fun starts. Take the VI chord for example: if you have a short little piece and don't know how to make it longer, substitute a VI for a I. It's now longer. :laugh: Baroque cats used that trick like every 20 seconds.

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Don't over think it, and don't play music that doesn't inspire you.

 

I know lots of great Jazz players that can't play Rock, and Vice versa. Precious few that can do both well without coming off as dillitantes.

 

But really....listen to the groove, don't overplay, and if you are going to think, think about the role your part is playing in the arrangement. Thart part might be ornamental, it might be foundational, could very well be minimal.

 

That said, don't be afraid to go nuts and, you know, rock.....

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Take some solos that you think rock, and learn them. But don't just learn to mimic them; sit down and figure out what makes them rock and why. Is there a certain lick that just floors you? Why does it cause that reaction? If you play it slightly differently, or in a different context, does it still have the same effect? Is there a spot where the tension builds really high and then is perfectly released? Figure out how that buildup was created -- rhythmically, melodically and harmonically.

 

Listen to Cygnus64, he knows what he's talking about.

 

And most importantly, don't listen to the naysayers who ignorantly claim that you can't get laid playing keys. :cool:

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Take the VI chord for example: if you have a short little piece and don't know how to make it longer, substitute a VI for a I. It's now longer.

 

Translated directly from Danish, that's called a 'dissapointer' :cool:

 

We had Bob Gulotti pop by our conservatory not so long ago, and apart from just being great at what he does, he said something real obvious, yet infinitely meaningful. He proclaimed that "everything you play should be a statement". I've brought this concept into my playing, and my, do I sound like a million bucks. That message isn't really new, but it is wonderful to have it refreshed every once in a while. Sometimes, if you're playing a rock solo, you might just end up going yabayaba-penta-yaba-blues-yaba-something - I know I used to fall into that pit every once in a while. But I've learned that mindfulness is the way for me.

When in doubt, superimpose pentatonics.
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Tension and release, building excitement, all that good stuff.

 

I remember reading once about Jimmy Page that he might not be the fastest player but he SOUNDS fast, and that seems important - when he starts a solo you know something good is about to happen (there's a great bit on Led Zep I where you can hear the hiss on the track increase as he hits a pedal just before starting his solo).

 

I also wouldn't be afraid to use some theatrics to get the audience involved. It's not rock, but think of Billy Preston sustaining a high note with a matchbook (?) and walking away from the organ - a hammy trick, but it works. Sustained notes, lots of movement, all that stuff.

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I think you have to hit the solo hard right from the get go. Don't start out real soft and mellow like you might on a jazz solo, where you let it build up. You'll be halfway done before anyone realizes what's going on. There's nothing like sliding up to a high note or a 4th/5th interval on the organ and kicking the Leslie on to let everyone know that there's an organ solo about to happen. Then once you have their attention you can do your thing. Of course this is all done in the context of the song.

 

 

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Sometimes, if you're playing a rock solo, you might just end up going yabayaba-penta-yaba-blues-yaba-something
:laugh:

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"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Nevermind the theory. Most rock musicians no very little, if any, theory. They use their ears and their emotions to dictate what they're going to play.

 

If I had any advice to give you it would be to not think about the notes your playing but listening to the overall sound you're producing. Tone, feel and rhythm are much more important than notes.

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The main thing that I've noticed about solos that DON'T rock is the player as afraid of volume.

 

You know a guitarist is going to crank it up when it's his turn (sometimes even when it's not). He intends to be heard.

 

The keyboardist should do the same. Command the attention. Get out there in front.

 

That's why I insist on having my own sound source on stage. When it's time to rock out, I need to be able to get out there without wondering if the sound man is pushing it back down in the mix.

 

I was going to comment about the start of the solo, but DanL hit it on the head.

 

One of the reasons I'm considered one of the better players in the area is not just because of theory, or technique. When I Rock, I Rock Hard.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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The main thing that I've noticed about solos that DON'T rock is the player as afraid of volume.

 

You know a guitarist is going to crank it up when it's his turn (sometimes even when it's not). He intends to be heard.

 

The keyboardist should do the same. Command the attention. Get out there in front.

 

+1

 

Back when I started out with synths that was a lot easier... I wasn't afraid of standing out. These days though, I have to confess when I'm playing with a band I prefer blending into the mix. Jumping out with a solo, or just a louder/lead sound in the body of the song doesn't happen often, although it's a blast once I get started.

 

:thu:

 

 

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Rock soloing uses a much smaller vocabulary than jazz. There are fewer things that will sound good over G7/C7, or whatever it is your soloing over. Pieces from that vocabulary are what the audience expects to hear. If you step outside it too much, you might lose them. So I'd suggest that one way to become a good rock soloist is to learn the cliches. It's just a starting point, but actually the ending point is not all that far from the starting point. Eventually you'll come up with your own variations on the cliches, but playing a good solo is more about how you piece them together and the feeling you can manage to put into.

 

I always think of a rock solo as having an overall contour, and I try to picture that in my head before I start it. Much like if you're trying to write an interesting story . . . you would just start in with "there's a guy, he's in a taxi, his phone rings, it's his, uh, mistress." No, you first decide what the climax of the story is going to generally be, then you decide how to get there. I think this is different, at least in degree from jazz, where you might start a solo having no idea where it's going to go, but instead searching for some way to surprise yourself and the audience. Rock generally isn't that whimsical. Except when it is . . .

 

These generalizations are just intended to be helpful to a beginner or someone who is struggling. Once you you're confident in what you're doing, then you don't have to listen to shmucks on the internet.

 

 

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Thanks all. I guess I'll take out some music theory books and get going!

 

I'd say the opposite. Letting go is the key.....you must unlearn what you have learned!

 

Seriously though, I personally would study by listening to recordings, not digesting theory.

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Its intersting to me that it is at least slightly acknowledged in this thread that to rock solo is a skill unto itself and is difficult for some jazzers to get the right feel for.

 

Some jazzers will turn their nose up at a rock situation as being beneath consideration. I applaud those jazzers that give rock soloing a try and see its a different thing and it aint as easy as they thought.

 

Note: I'm a Rock/Blues guy and though i can play "jazzy" , i can't play jazz at all. At least not enough to hurt my rock soloing. (See what i did there? A little reverse snobbery).

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In rock situations (usually as a guest musician) I've been asked to solo more on electric violin than keys (got to play an organ patch solo once), but I found that if I used any notes outside of the chords of the song, the band leader tended to be displeased. To keep from boring yourself or the band, channel the energy you would have spent on juicier harmonies/note choices to phrasing, dynamics, and rhythm.

 

I usually assume the band wants a pre-composed solo, unless they make it clear that they want jamming/improvisation. The rock band leaders I've worked with tend to worry more about putting on a mistake free show than letting people stretch out. In that case, I listen to each song that they want me to play on multiple times a day, write out solos in my head, and eventually settle on a composed solo. If I have trouble coming up with ideas, I start listening to some favorite rock solos (that don't venture too far into jazz or prog, so that eliminates a lot of Steely Dan, Keith Emerson, George Duke, etc.), like Steve Winwood's "Valerie", "Jessica" (played by Leavell for Allman Brothers), "Frankenstein", etc. Maybe even transcribe a bit of one of those solos...

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Thanks all. I guess I'll take out some music theory books and get going!

 

I'd say the opposite. Letting go is the key.....you must unlearn what you have learned!

 

Seriously though, I personally would study by listening to recordings, not digesting theory.

 

I hate to break the news, but what you are asking him to do is called "music theory". :thu:

 

Theory isn't the exclusive realm of eggheads learning fancypants, antiquated terms like Neapolitan 6ths. It's an understanding of how music works, nothing more. It's figuring out what the hell is going on. :laugh: Listening to records to figure out what they are doing = theory. A college prof in a theory class will do the exact same thing, there's a lot of listening in theory. It should really be called "Music Knowledge" because that's what it is.

 

Protip: No matter what field one is in, it's a mistake to consider Education as some sort of negative. Stuff like "Free your mind" is all good and dandy, but knowing what the damn chords are and what they do will give you an even freer mind. I Guarantee it.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* "I Guarantee it" Copyright 2011 by Men's Wearhouse. All rights reserved.

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