Harmony Central Forums
Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Learning to solo, by learning from songs

Collapse



X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Learning to solo, by learning from songs

    Hi all

    I'm learning to solo, and have been learning music theory such as scales and modes and also from various licks. I had a teacher for a short time, and we went through some songs, and he showed me how to play solos in those songs by slowing down the song to a manageable tempo and then the notes to play. We did a couple of songs such as Hey Joe. I have to say I found that very productive, as it was the first time I had tried to learn a solo note for note and beat for beat. Then I would record on a loop the chord sequence the backing track and then practice the solo over that. Previously, I just messed around by getting the gist of a solo and then randomly playing around that to get a rough approximation.

    My question is, do you find this a practical way to learn, by deconstructing a solo and then slowly (painstakingly) play and repeat until you get it as is on the record? Now that I've done it, I'm trying to repeat it again with other songs, except that it's hard going and takes a long time just for one song. Or do you find it more productive to get the general idea of where/what they're playing, e.g. ok it's E minor pentatonic in first position and up from there to A etc. - then noodle around in that position?

  • #2
    Personally I think its an excellent way. Especially learning some Hendrix, his stuff might not be crazy technical but its weird timing.
    😉

    Comment


    • #3
      Tracks - even Label releases can be a major element in ones development. I look for "melodic opportunity" and cool notes, licks, and timbres. Hendrix, as it's more personalized and anarchistic, not so much. Practicing is what you make of it.
      Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







      Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

      Comment


      • #4
        You can't play the exact same solo over different tunes but you can isolate individual licks out of the solo and use them.
        _____________________________________________
        Serious about playing but not much else.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by slide22 View Post
          Hi all

          I'm learning to solo, and have been learning music theory such as scales and modes and also from various licks. I had a teacher for a short time, and we went through some songs, and he showed me how to play solos in those songs by slowing down the song to a manageable tempo and then the notes to play. We did a couple of songs such as Hey Joe. I have to say I found that very productive, as it was the first time I had tried to learn a solo note for note and beat for beat. Then I would record on a loop the chord sequence the backing track and then practice the solo over that. Previously, I just messed around by getting the gist of a solo and then randomly playing around that to get a rough approximation.

          My question is, do you find this a practical way to learn, by deconstructing a solo and then slowly (painstakingly) play and repeat until you get it as is on the record? Now that I've done it, I'm trying to repeat it again with other songs, except that it's hard going and takes a long time just for one song. Or do you find it more productive to get the general idea of where/what they're playing, e.g. ok it's E minor pentatonic in first position and up from there to A etc. - then noodle around in that position?
          If "deconstructing a solo" includes seeing how it relates to the chords, then yes it's very useful. Not useful at all if it doesn't.
          Eg, what you need to learn from Hey Joe is how each note sits against the chord at that moment ("vertical", or "harmonic" note relationship), as well as how it works melodically as part of a phrase ("horizontal" or "linear" relationship).
          That's how you find out the rules you can apply to any other song. Eg, maybe that E note sounded good because it was the 3rd of a C chord? So if you want the same effect on an A chord, you'd play a C#. Right?
          Similar ideas apply to whole licks: they're dependent on the chord as well as the key, but often more so on the chord. (In blues, the key relationship is more important; in other kinds of music, chords are often more important.)

          Things like position and pattern (guitar-specific technical issues) are totally irrelevant. Any lick is playable in any position, and probably in 2 or 3 octaves. It may be easier in certain positons, but that's nothing to do with how it works musically.

          ...

          Comment


          • #6
            Most people who learns to play, also learn by ear and also learn to tab material out by listening to music.
            Over time this does get easier to do. I been playing nearly 50 years and I can picture the notes being played in my mind
            and even know the key it was played in and the positions on the neck the leads were played in.

            Back in the day all you had was a turntable to hear songs and slowing down the turntable also meant a change in pitch,
            so you didn't slow the music down like you can with these slow downer programs, nor could you Google up a tab for it.
            There was no net and no PC's. If you were lucky you might have a tape that can be rewound to hear a part over and over,
            but my album collection is filled with battle wounds where parts of the records are worn out from having listened to the lead
            parts a gazillion times to learn then note for note. Now I rarely have to hear the part more then once except when the notes
            get really ultra fast or garbled.

            I get a kick when I play with a rookie. He'll play me a tune I've never heard before and I play it note for note back for him.
            He'll ask how the hell did I do that and my answer is, you'll find out soon enough if you stick with it long enough. Listening to
            a tune over and over till you hear it going through your head like the record is still spinning is the other part. I often have a
            tune stick in my head for hours or even days and I can manipulate it at will to hear the parts I want.

            A short cut to learning can be used to help you along. You can Learn the box system that consists of 5 main boxes.
            on the neck which cover an octave for all strings before those boxes begin again at an octave above.
            You can for instance hit any notes within those boxes and be in tune with the song.

            Those boxes can be shifted for major or minor keys. and you can shift the boxes on the neck to match any major or minor key.
            This way when you need to reposition up or down the neck you can jump to the box which is most suitable to the notes needed in the scales
            and the most comfortable for fingering.

            Then when you practice to an album, you'll have a foundation of where the leads come from and can use the boxes as a foundation for
            memorization of leads you play. After awhile you can look down at the neck and if you know the key you'll know all the notes on the neck
            that can be played at any given time. Then its just a matter of making your hands get to them. This is of course grunt work that trains you hands
            just the same as an athlete does working out to get their bodies in shape. They don't always have to be scales to train the fingers but of course
            that's a part of it as well.

            Once you "Get" what the box system is about then you can add and remove notes to get all your other scales to fit within those boxes much like
            you'd add or remove a note from a barre chord to make it a 7th, diminished, augmented etc. You can also add bends, rakes, hammeron's, slides, trills fills vibrato's
            etc to make the notes follow whatever pattern you want. I often take a box when I'm just watching TV and just run through the boxes doing reps until my
            hands are up to the speed of my mind. Then I can completely forget about the boxes and my hands do whatever I want them to, when I want them to do it.

            Again, this is much like an athlete does when he trains. He works the body running, lifting weights, then he does bits and pieces of plays he'd see in a game until those
            plays are flawless. Then when he plays a game, the plays are strung together in a strategy consisting of many plays and changes that may occur at the spur of the moment
            depending on how well things are going. Its like you have a trick bag or tool kit filled with all kinds of plays you can use and choose them based on weather they will do the job.
            In music you develop hundreds if not thousands of these short and longer pieces that can be strung together to make your own unique musical language. And when you get board of those
            you may even sit down and learn how to do them all backwards so you truly do know them inside and out.
            Last edited by WRGKMC; 03-11-2014, 01:08 PM.

            Comment


            • Virgman
              Virgman commented
              Editing a comment
              Great post.

          • #7
            Thanks for the tips!
            Yes I'm trying to be aware of the chords behind and taking note of the solo notes in relation to it. For now I haven't got as far as identifying if it's the 3rd or 7th or whatever special note it is for that chord in the song, although I'm aware that chord tone targetting is a major element in soloing. I'm trying to practice targetting on my own improvisations, although I always fall into resolving to the root too often, cos it just sounds complete.
            JonR: when you say horizontal or vertical relationship to the chords, what do you mean by that?

            The other thing is, when it comes to learning song solos, I'm much too concentrated on getting the timing right at the moment, so trying to pay attention to the relative notes tends to go out the window at the moment. That's the other part of the mystery to me too, the rhythm/timing of the solos. It seems to me the mix of note lengths is another key ingredient. When I improvise on my own, even when I apply the right scale with the right chords, after a while they almost all invariably sound the same to me because I end up with the same pattern of beats to stay in time with the current tempo. If I try to change it up then it starts to sound quite random or unfocused. I was hoping that by learning solos from songs, I might be able to see how others come up with it. Is there any particular trick to it, or is it just something that comes with feeling the music and you develop it over time?


            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by slide22 View Post
              The other thing is, when it comes to learning song solos, I'm much too concentrated on getting the timing right at the moment, so trying to pay attention to the relative notes tends to go out the window at the moment. That's the other part of the mystery to me too, the rhythm/timing of the solos. It seems to me the mix of note lengths is another key ingredient. When I improvise on my own, even when I apply the right scale with the right chords, after a while they almost all invariably sound the same to me because I end up with the same pattern of beats to stay in time with the current tempo. If I try to change it up then it starts to sound quite random or unfocused. I was hoping that by learning solos from songs, I might be able to see how others come up with it. Is there any particular trick to it, or is it just something that comes with feeling the music and you develop it over time?
              This is a major hazard with self study. You end up studying mostly yourself.
              Not always practical but indispensible; GET (REALLY GOOD) TEACHER. Get METRONOME. DO ALL work diligently. You can work on your star when you are actually there.
              Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







              Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by slide22 View Post
                Thanks for the tips!
                Yes I'm trying to be aware of the chords behind and taking note of the solo notes in relation to it. For now I haven't got as far as identifying if it's the 3rd or 7th or whatever special note it is for that chord in the song, although I'm aware that chord tone targetting is a major element in soloing. I'm trying to practice targetting on my own improvisations, although I always fall into resolving to the root too often, cos it just sounds complete.
                JonR: when you say horizontal or vertical relationship to the chords, what do you mean by that?
                "Horizontal" means melodic, one note after another in a linear "string"; in the time dimension if you like.

                "Vertical" means a simultaneous relationship to the chord at that moment - as in stacks of notes forming a chord. We hear each note as a chord extension or alteration - ie relating mainly to the chord root, but also to other chord tones.
                There's also a more distant relationship (or awareness of one) to the keynote, if the current chord is not the key chord. Ie, we are aware (even if only dimly) of how the chord itself relates to the key. In its simplest form, we can tell that the chord is either the key chord, or it's something else. That's partly a "horizontal" relationship, because the perception depends on memory - on having heard the key established before that.

                "Horizontal" still involves chord relationships of course, but more in the sense of forward motion, the way one chord leads to the next ("voice-leading"), and the way you might build a line to target a note on an approaching chord, to resolve to it.
                Ie, it's about setting up expectations. Once we've heard a few chords go by, we have a pretty good sense of key, and where everything might be going. Naturally good composers like to play with these expectations, often surprising the ear by changing to a chord we don't expect. But as a soloist, of course, you know what chords are coming... (or you ought to!)
                So your phrases need a logical syntax, if you like: the simple way one note follows another needs to sound like it's not random. I think we all have a fairly intuitive sense of that. We can tell a random series of notes (that a computer might spew out) from a melodic series played by a sentient human. We couldn't explain the "sense" it's making, but we know it when we hear it.
                And that's the "horizontal" aspect in a nutshell: it doesn't need chords at all.
                However, a sensible sounding phrase will quite likely outline, or suggest, a harmony of some kind, at the very least a familiar scale of some kind. That's where the underlying "logic" resides: we recognise the hint of a familiar pattern.

                So it's quite natural, then, in the context of a chord sequence, to expect an improvised phrase to relate to that sequence quite closely. But the "pattern recognition" aspect is so hard-wired that we can play around with it. It's too dull to simply plod along staying inside the chords all the time. It all sounds fine, but after a while it's bland, and we start to get a sense of "so what?" We need to hear something fresh, a different angle. That doesn't necessarily mean some "outside" jazz phrasing, deliberate dissonance against the chord. It can mean highighting some hidden connections across the chords - eg by playing the same phrase on different chords, as if to say "see these chords aren't so different after all..."
                IOW, it's like the opposite of the disruptive jazz "outside" effect (which kicks some energy into overfamiliar changes). Rather than disrupting the familiar, you are forging new and more interesting familiarities - adding new logic.

                OK, this all sounds terribly wordy and theoretical! So - running through my head as I write this is the opening phrases of Jimi's solo on Hey Joe..

                He plays an E minor pent phrase over the first two chords (C and G), and then repeats the same phrase (more or less) on the next two chords (D and A). How does that work?
                The phrase begins on a high E, coming down to resolve to a G note. So that's the 3rd of the C chord, resolving down to the root of G. On the D chord, the E note is the 9th, and the G is the 7th of A. But he doesn't stop there: instead of repeating the G note a few times (as he did on the G chord, to kind of nail down the root), he plays G-A-G - acknowledging the A root - and then continues on down to the E, the root of the next chord, and the tonic of the song.
                It's a beautiful little example. Even choosing the E note to start. Before the C chord, of course, is two bars on E, the key chord. So to start the solo on E seems like the most obvious thing to do - and it is. But the effect is to highlight the surprise of the C chord. (What's that doing in key of E?)
                He chooses E minor pent as an arguably banal cliche sound in key of E. But he knows that the unusual chord sequence will give his phrases enough freshness. He knows that the E note is the 3rd of C and the 9th of D (even if he might not have thought of them in such academic terms). Ie, he knows the "vertical" effect of those notes (holding them for a full beat, right on beat 1 of the chord). At the same time, he is planning horizontally: temporary resolutions to G, but a final target note of the E tonic when that chord arrives.
                The next time the sequence comes around, he plays an embellished form of his opening phrase - with a lovely little "enclosure" of the G, approaching it via 16ths B-D-E-A. Then the phrase on D and A is quite different: still E minor pent, but a rising figure on the D, then (on the A) four 16ths in the same shape as the enclosure on G: E-A-B-D, seeming to enclose an anticipated C, but instead he comes down (via E-D-A-B) to a G on the E chord, resolving to E on beat 3.

                I suspect he worked out some basic ideas for this solo beforehand - he'd been playing the song live for some time before recording it. Quite likely, the studio version represents a shortened version of what he would have done live, and he probably wanted to retain the best ideas he'd been using in the past. But at the same time there's signs of on-the-spot embellishment, of his natural freewheeling approach. He was no anal note-for-note guy!
                Originally posted by slide22 View Post
                The other thing is, when it comes to learning song solos, I'm much too concentrated on getting the timing right at the moment, so trying to pay attention to the relative notes tends to go out the window at the moment. That's the other part of the mystery to me too, the rhythm/timing of the solos. It seems to me the mix of note lengths is another key ingredient. When I improvise on my own, even when I apply the right scale with the right chords, after a while they almost all invariably sound the same to me because I end up with the same pattern of beats to stay in time with the current tempo. If I try to change it up then it starts to sound quite random or unfocused. I was hoping that by learning solos from songs, I might be able to see how others come up with it. Is there any particular trick to it, or is it just something that comes with feeling the music and you develop it over time?
                You're quite right to think about time, it's often forgotten about in the keenness to understand note choices. You're also right that skill in handling it will develop over time - and all the quicker the more you're aware of the issue!
                Just as we can have "inside" and "outside" notes in the harmony (chord tones or half-steps away from them), so we have inside and outside rhythms: notes on and off the beats.
                The great lesson that all African-American music teaches is that of syncopation. Playing notes on the beat all the time is BORING. Skip around in between the beats. Play accents in unexpected places.
                Obviously you have to be able to lock into the groove to start with. You have to "know where '1' is". You have to feel whether the rhythm is straight or swing (not hard! ). You have to able to feel the pulse behind you (or inside you) as you play, so you can play around with it, play on it and off it.
                The metronome is your friend here. Well, if not your friend, then your tough personal trainer! .
                Learn to play in time with a metronome comfortably. You need to get to a point where you can hit the click all the time almost without trying. Then you will feel like you are "on it"; you're in the groove, "in the pocket". Then (and only then) you should be able to play in between the clicks without losing the pulse. Begin with straight time (equal 8ths) where upstrokes are exactly between the clicks (still feeling the clicks as downs).
                For swing or shuffle feel (as in blues), you should also be able to do things like 3 over 2 - if you imagine the clicks as triplet beats (dividing by 3), then you play alternate triplets, so you get 3 equally spaced notes across 2 clicks.
                You can actually learn a lot just from classic rock riffs, which are always neat combinations of on and off beats, mostly deriving (believe it or not) from Latin clave rhythms. Eg the rhythm of the Smoke On The Water riff, sped up, would be very familiar to any Cuban musician...
                Any time you play SOTW, or Brown Sugar, or Start Me Up, or Proud Mary - or any Bo Diddley tune - you're dabbling in the dark art of syncopation. It ought to be second nature to any rock player, let alone a blues or jazz player. So if you can feel your way into those grooves, you've got a good start.
                Last edited by JonR; 03-12-2014, 06:22 AM.
                ...

                Comment


                • #10
                  Don't over-complicate.

                  Transcribe some solos you like. Practice the complete solos. Also break the solos into short licks. Practice them. Everyday a bit.

                  Practice jamming over backing tracks using your creativity. Eventually some of your practiced licks will find their way into your soloing.

                  Hopefully you are aware of the pentatonic scale both major and minor, and the major scale. Be aware of the positions as you practice your solos and where the licks take place.

                  Rinse & repeat.
                  Last edited by Virgman; 03-14-2014, 08:55 AM.
                  _____________________________________________
                  Serious about playing but not much else.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Playing to albums using an amp smaller than your HI FI speakers works well. You then have the tempo and emotion of the notes to follow.
                    If your music is digitized using a slow downer that changes the speed and not the pitch can help allot.
                    When you're not playing to an album, using a metronome or drum machine is very beneficial. It will force you to fit the notes
                    into the allotted time and make the riffs repetitions flow better.

                    Its allot like running a race with other runners. You'll go farther and faster
                    running a race against others instead of just doing your own place and loosing interest in winning.
                    Once you have the discipline established to play to a beat then you can drop the use of a beat maker.
                    you can even dance circles around the timing and intentionally speed up and slow down riffs in timing
                    as a special effect in playing.

                    Don't rule out playing with others though. You learn more when the heats on and some nice chick eyeing you
                    then decades of playing by yourself. Music has a big element of pleasing and impressing others with your talent.
                    The thing is the better you get, and as you move on to working with better players, they become less impressed with
                    your talent because they too have spent the time and hard work learning as you did.

                    It becomes more of a collective effort and putting music together to create a good show. Musicians don't learn their music
                    at rehearsal. That's done on your own time as homework. They rehearse to work out kinks and refine the show they plan on putting on.
                    Instead of each song having a single theme, the entire collection of songs become theme that is worked like a broadway show.
                    Few musician get to work at that level unfortunately. They may be in bands of course but have few who can or are willing to take
                    then to the next level. The ones who do survive the garage band small time club thing are often times musicians educated in music
                    and can read which gives them an edge.

                    In all cases they spend a whole lot of time woodshedding the basics on a daily basis. Back when I was younger I'd practice for 8 hours straight,
                    then go out and play a 4~6 hour show. In between I'd haul all that gear, PA amps etc. in and out of gigs and rehearsal studios built you up
                    physically and mentally. It becomes hard to make a mistakes because a mistake feels unnatural. The only thing you do fight is fatigue that gets
                    worse with age and possibly poor lifestyle choices. By the time you're my age, its about battling arthritis which becomes very painful. I still
                    get in at least 3 hours a night and more on weekends though, even working a full time job.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Great thanks a lot for all the tips and advice!
                      JonR: that was quite a super explanation of the solo Hey Joe. I was thinking exactly that, how the hell does he use E minor pentatonic over those chords and make it sound awesome - your explanation goes a long way to shedding light on that for me so thanks!
                      WRGKMC: Well that old adage about 10000 hours to become an expert, suffice to say I'm way short of that mark. I average an hour a day at the moment and I know that there's lots more hard graft to come. But, I'm willing and patient, and I'm looking at it as a lifetime's journey!

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Consider minutes spent on solid gains instead of years spent trying to get the hang of the peaks.
                        Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







                        Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by slide22 View Post
                          My question is, do you find this a practical way to learn, by deconstructing a solo and then slowly (painstakingly) play and repeat until you get it as is on the record? Now that I've done it, I'm trying to repeat it again with other songs, except that it's hard going and takes a long time just for one song. Or do you find it more productive to get the general idea of where/what they're playing, e.g. ok it's E minor pentatonic in first position and up from there to A etc. - then noodle around in that position?
                          This is an excellent way. Keep with it for as long as you are able.
                          Blog: sixstringobsession
                          Subscribe to my YouTube channel

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Listen, play, analyze, repeat...
                            **********************

                            www.thesymbolsband.com

                            Comment













                            Working...
                            X