#1
For example, in Brothers in Arms, by Dire Straits, the lead work is really emotional (to me), but it sounds very simple. If there was no orchestra or whatever behind, would it sound as powerful, or is it just the relationship to what is behind it that makes it sound great?

Same for anything - can a great solo sound great without the backing that is supposed to be behind it - a lot of the time, I've noticed a change in the backing brings a change in mood or whatever, and when I improvise, I sound a lot better over a good backing track.
#2
Music is usually better with harmony, although I've heard guitarists that can make great solo's with little to no backing, such as Marty Freidman and Mikael Akerfeldt.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#3
A good solo has a co-dependent relationship with the things going on behind it. When one records a solo, the best-feeling/-sounding ones are all complimentary of the rest of the song.

I mean, metal rulez, nps is evrything.
#5
Yes, I think it is very important. Most solos would sound pretty weak/bad without a good backing track behind it, unless it was meant to be played alone.
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#6
It is possible to imply harmony that isn't actually there, which is why it's implied. Marty Freidman has a video on this, Melodic Control, or something like that. So I guess you could say most solo require harmony, even if it's not actually there.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#7
Sometimes when a melody is extremely suggestive I completely forget what other orchestration surrounds it. I think the underlying music affetc solos but the really great solos can stand alone.
#8
Quote by The_Sophist
Music is usually better with harmony, although I've heard guitarists that can make great solo's with little to no backing, such as Marty Freidman and Mikael Akerfeldt.

That's because Marty Freidman, tries to make it sound like he is playing to some progression.
But yes a soly really depends on the backing.
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#9
It doesn't matter what he's trying to do, he's making a good solo without a backing.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#10
It depends on the chords being played under the solo.

If you have a keyboard to hand you can see this very easily. First you compose a very simple riff, in the key of C for simplicity, which will be an ostinato. Then you write a simple progression, say C Am F G. Then play the riff once over each chord and see how the mood changes with the different chords.
#11
A good guitarist will take advantage of the backing. For instance, just repeating the final lick in the Stairway solo for 4 measures will be boring, but if over those 4 measures the progression goes Am G F G, it will create a cool, kind of dissonant but still good sound.

You can also take advantage of the backing by emphasizing the notes in the backing, essentially, playing chord tones.

There is no right way to play a good guitar solo, though it is important to remember that a solo is seldom an island. Even if the backing drops out, there's still music before and/or after.

Another suggestion, on a loosely connected topic: don't listen to anyone who says speed is useless. You'll rarely want to play fast all the time (in a given song/solo), but there will be plenty of situations where you'll want a burst of speed or a fast climactic lick.
#12
Quote by gabcd86
For example, in Brothers in Arms, by Dire Straits, the lead work is really emotional (to me), but it sounds very simple. If there was no orchestra or whatever behind, would it sound as powerful


^ does it really matter?

It is what it is.
shred is gaudy music
#13
Yes it is what it is. But surely the way to learn is to understand what makes it what it is?
#14
What the other guys are saying is true about soloing. Soloing over a progression allows simple melodic ideas to be more interesting because the stability and tension created by the chords changes as the chords move.

For example, lets say we're playing over a I - IV - V - I progression in C or

C - F - G - C

The notes in each of these chords are:

C Major: C - E - G
F Major: F - A - C
G Major: G - B - D

As any of these chords are played (as the backing) the notes that make up those specific chords will sound stable or at rest; you could sit on that note forever and would feel okay staying there. Going with the above example, we could play a G note over our C Major chord, then switch to an F once the F Major chord is played, move back to the G as we get to the G Major and stay on the G as we finish on C Major.

Playing chord tones all the time can be boring because like a good story, melody needs some tension to be interesting. This is achieved by playing notes that are outside of the chords; like playing an F note over a C Major chord. Once that tension note is played it is usually a good idea to resolve it by moving to a chord note; playing F and then E over a C Major chord. Experiment with how long you hold tense notes before resolving them and listen to how it affects your solo. Try holding a G note over the above progression. Its stable in C Major and G Major, but its tense in F Major, so you get your tension and resolution without even needing to change notes. Blues musicians do this kind of thing all the time.

When your first learning about tension, stick to notes inside a specific scale (Majors, Minors, Pentatonics, etc.) as these won't sound overly tense against the chords. Remember that tension in any amount is okay as long as you resolve it. Keep this in mind when you start exploring tensions that are "outside" of a specific scale.

Lastly, when it comes to playing without a backing track or chord progression, one very effective way of soloing is to outline the intended chord progression. This is done by emphasizing the aforementioned chord tones on strong beats (1 and 3). This will imply the chord changes and the listener will pickup the context you're playing over (thought it may only be subconsciously). To hear examples of this, listen to solos by jazz bassists. The role of the bass in jazz is to outline chords and a good one will continue to do this even while they are soloing.