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Old 02-28-2013, 06:16 AM   #1
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Big band solo help

I have a huge solo in a Big Band I'm in. It goes for about 44-48 bars, not too sure of the top of my head but I'm having trouble with it.

Like I know the scales but I'm having trouble getting ideas for solos for this style. The song is in swing.

If anyone has any example of guitarists doing solos in a swing song for a big band itd be much appreciated. Im not use to solos in Big Bands that are heavy Jazz. I'm only good at improving really with blues and funk, rock etc.

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Old 02-28-2013, 08:54 AM   #2
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May I ask what tempo the tune is at? That will help me answer your question in more detail.
Anyway playing a solo in a Big Band is pretty much the same as improvising in any other context. Learn the head inside out. Do interesting variations of the melody, mix up the rhythm, insert new notes in. Then improvise your own responding line by replying to the melody, build some tension then finish off. Basically you want to have something to say. You don't need to play a lot of notes if you can't pull it off. Saying a lot with a little bit of material is better than saying little with lots of material. In your situation, starting of slow and sparse is a good idea as the solo goes for 44-48 bars. Also, remember to swing!
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:06 AM   #3
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Maybe you should listen to some Guthrie Govan.

And you have like 40 bars, so you have the time to really build it up. It's probably one big crescendo so start slow and keep getting more intense...

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Old 02-28-2013, 09:45 AM   #4
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Don't forget to sort of sculpt it. Good solos have contours. They usually start slower and lower, then build momentum as they move into a higher register. In the last few measures you may want to slow it back down, and try to reach a sort of middle ground between the beginning and middle in terms of both momentum and pitch. Start and end on the tonic if at all possible.

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Last edited by FrauVfromPoB : 02-28-2013 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:51 AM   #5
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Brian setzer has done a lot of things with a big band, look him up
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:09 AM   #6
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Cheers guys, it's at 150bpm, so pretty fast
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:47 AM   #7
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Trad jazz big band solos tend to be quite conservative, so I'd avoid silly fast runs or any particularly modern scale choices. Try to outline the changes using a mixture of chord tones and chromatic passing notes. If you struggle with that, try figuring out 'umbrella scales' that fit over several consecutive chords, and use them as safe options!
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