#1
Hey there, I'm PeaceReeper.
I know this topic must've been covered at least a dozen times, but I just need to know: how do you solo?
I try to find the key to songs, sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't. How do you find out what notes can be played over a song? I know the relative minor and the pentatonic minor blues scale, but that stuff doesn't seem to work. Where do I begin? Any help would be appreciated!
Thanks,
PeaceReeper
Last edited by PeaceReeper at Dec 5, 2009,
#2
It wont work if you play it in the wrong key, but you should be able to use the pentatonic scale to solo over most songs (as major and minor are the same shape).

Also, this might help:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXaUtYgAkB4

It sounds like what you need to do, though, is to develop your ears so that you can work out the key to play in.
#3
it should come naturally... if you cant solo dont keep playing and try again whne u thinmk youve gotten better
#4
This is copypasta from an earlier post of mine. It should help, feel free to ask specific questions.

You need to be familiar with the concepts of consonance and dissonance. Now this is a huge subject, but I'll try to keep this as brief as I can.

We're gonna keep it simple. Let's say we're in G major. We want a simple I-IV-V chord progression which, in G, is G, C, and D (all major, of course). To solo, we will use the G major scale.

Now this next part will be internalized over time, and you won't even have to think about it. But at first, it will help to break things down. The key of G major contains the notes GABCDE and F#, and the G major scale is GABCDEF#G. These are the notes we want to stick to for the most part. But just playing them mostly at random over the progression isn't likely to turn out something outstanding.

We next need to look at the notes in each chord of the progression. They are: GBD for G, CEG for C, and DF#A for D. Here's where consonance and dissonance come in. The notes in each chord are consonant for that chord, and all other notes are dissonant. Consonant means that it sounds very nice and relaxed over the chord, while dissonant means that there is some level of tension. Every note not in the chord, whether they are in the key or not, has some level of dissonance.

I'm certainly not saying that the only note you can play over a G major chord are G, B, and D. What makes great solos is how they manipulate this dissonance to create and resolve tension. And this is the sort of thing you want to pay attention to when analyzing music.

So to make your solo really lock into and fit the progression, try starting your phrases on consonant notes. When the progression changes to the next chord, play a note that's consonant with that new chord and continue your phrase. This sort of thing will really make your solo part of the overall song.
#5
Thanks for your inputs so far guys. So what kind of theory should I be learning for this?
#6
If you can improvise, you can solo. It's as simple as playing random notes that are on the scale, to put it bluntly.
#7
My problem is that I don't know what scale to use, I don't know how to identify the scale that goes with the key, if the key is correct in the first place.
#8
Quote by Jinzu
If you can improvise, you can solo. It's as simple as playing random notes that are on the scale, to put it bluntly.

Not necessarily. For example, in A minor, try playing an F over that A minor chord. It's in the key, but it sounds terrible if you use it the wrong way, because it's only a semitone from the E.

The way to learn it isn't too hard, but you'll want to start studying some theory. To put it simply, if the key is G major, use the G major scale; if the key is A minor, use the A minor scale, and so on.

To determine the key, you have to know a bit about the notes in each key, and chords in each key (which are really just made up of the notes of the key). You can easily look up this information on the internet, then it's just a matter of internalizing it through usage and rote memorization.

And the way to practice it is just to do it! Download some back tracks or jam tracks, and go for it. Keep in mind the chord tones over the changes, and just do it!

Well? What the hell are you waiting for? GO!
Last edited by chrisweyers at Dec 5, 2009,
#9
Quote by PeaceReeper
My problem is that I don't know what scale to use, I don't know how to identify the scale that goes with the key, if the key is correct in the first place.

Then you need to learn that first.
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#10
Quote by PeaceReeper
My problem is that I don't know what scale to use, I don't know how to identify the scale that goes with the key, if the key is correct in the first place.


I guess I'm confused whether you are playing over a jam track where you don't know the chords you are playing over, or if you know the chords and just don't know how to apply a scale to it.

If you know the chords, spell them out to the individual notes and see if you can determine one scale that fits all the chords. If the progression is diatonic, then you'll be ok. If there are chords outside of the key you'll have to be more careful.

If you are playing over a jam track and don't know the chords (and don't have a developed ear to figure them out) you can use your ear and trial/error to determine which notes sound good over the chords. Put on your music and play notes. Some will sound great, some will sound ok and some will sound horrible. If a note sounds really bad you can usually find better sounding notes right next to it. Remember which notes sound acceptable and play those notes over your progression.

If you think about it, if I gave you a song and didn't tell you the chord progression or key and told you to sing or hum over it, you probably wouldn't have a problem doing that even though you didn't know the chords or key. You'd be relying on your "ear" to tell you what sounds good and appropriate for the chords. If all else fails you can always go back to that.
#11
Quote by PeaceReeper
My problem is that I don't know what scale to use, I don't know how to identify the scale that goes with the key, if the key is correct in the first place.

To identify the key, one thing to look at is the first and/or last note of the song. It's usually pretty accurate, but not always. But if you listen to the song, you should be able to figure out what note it wants to reside to. For instance, if a song is in A, it will sound unfinished on anything bun an A. After you get that, you can just try to figure out the song a bit or look at the tabs and decipher whether it's major, minor, harmonic minor, phrygian, etc. After you figure all of that out, just play the scale. It takes some getting used to, but if you can learn that, learning solos by ear will come pretty easy.
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#12
Quote by chrisweyers
To put it simply, if the key is G major, use the G major scale; if the key is A minor, use the A minor scale, and so on.

Wow, thank you for saying I'm wrong. And repeating the exact same thing I said,
It totally makes sense :|
#13
Well, in theory, making a solo isn't hard at all. Making a really good solo is whats hard. I mean, I can do tons of cool little solo licks, but putting them all together and making them work together is where the real challenge is at
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#14
Quote by PeaceReeper
My problem is that I don't know what scale to use, I don't know how to identify the scale that goes with the key, if the key is correct in the first place.

most rock and blues you'll be able to do pretty good in the pentatonic & blues scales. Id go get a scale book, I have the Hal Leonard Incredible Scale Finder and its great.

But really, you cant learn it, it'll just click over time. I couldn't make anything up worth a damn for my first 3 and a half years, then I just "got it" and was able to get better and better at improvising over the past couple months.
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#16
Quote by Jinzu
Wow, thank you for saying I'm wrong. And repeating the exact same thing I said,
It totally makes sense :|

Jinzu, I promise you I'm not trying to start an argument here, but I'm confused as to how what we said was related.

Also, I wasn't trying to say you're wrong, at least not flat out. I just want to make it clear that there's more to soloing than just playing random notes from the key.
#17
Quote by MEGADETH_METAL
i'm also having trouble with this but i'll give an example. Say i wanted to solo over "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebvmS9Mr26g , how do i go about finding out what would sound good be played over the top??? or could someone tell me aswell :P ???

Same way as I mentioned above. Determine the key and the chords in the progression, determine the scale to use and if you stick to chord tones during the changes, you really can't go wrong. You don't HAVE to use the chord tones during the changes, but while you're learning to manipulate consonance and dissonance, it's usually a good idea.
#18
I think the best advice I could give regarding soloing is that you can't get too bogged down with the technicalities of scales. Scales are important because they're the boundaries, but I wouldn't focus too heavily on practicing scales over and over again because you won't really get anywhere.

I like to think of it this way. Think of learning the English language. In the beginning you're taught simple words, "mommy", "daddy", "hungry", etc... and over time you add words to your vocabulary, and by the time you're just a few years old - you're totally improving sentences.. making up the structure in real time when you need to communicate. I think of guitar soloing kind of like that, so practicing scales would be like sitting and just saying some memorized sentences over and over again... in the end you're talking, but not really effectively communicating.

So the way that most of us learn is by trying to emulate other guitar players. I'm a big fan of the blues and I started by trying to copy Albert King licks because they were easy for me to disect... and then later I started to notice how other artist used those same licks in different ways... they were obviously trying to copy him too at some point. That's a lot like learning to talk though, in the beginning we try to copy our parents.

I guess my point is, don't get too caught up in the scales or the technical stuff - a lot of great players couldn't tell you what scale they were playing in at all.... they just know how to jump in and "communicate" with the guitar.

Hope that's helpful.
Last edited by talibanjo at Dec 6, 2009,
#19
Hmm, good think piece talibanjo. I guess my trouble is, I just don't know how John Petrucci and Slash just shred like that going through every note on the fret board, while I'm stuck with that one Minor Pentatonic shape. I can hum the solo when I hear the song, but that scale shape is getting tedious and restricting. How do they know what to do?
#20
Just comes with time. You have to learn to stop letting your hands do the playing for you. In your mind, you'll think of an emotional concept you want to convey then, before you can think further, your hands will play the notes to convey it because you will have internalized the knowledge of note location, emotional effects of various interval, the best way to phrase and articulate that emotional concept, and a million other things. Everybody starts somewhere!
#21
Quote by PeaceReeper
Hmm, good think piece talibanjo. I guess my trouble is, I just don't know how John Petrucci and Slash just shred like that going through every note on the fret board, while I'm stuck with that one Minor Pentatonic shape. I can hum the solo when I hear the song, but that scale shape is getting tedious and restricting. How do they know what to do?


Ok, firstly, you do realize that you're comparing yourself to musicians who've been playing for an exponentially greater period of time, than yourself, right?
I mean, Petrucci has 30 years of experience. And not just that; his daily practice schedule is insane.

You practice all day long, for 30 years, and who knows, maybe you'll be better than Petrucci.

Secondly, since you're asking how to solo, I guess you haven't been playing for long. Word of advice, keep playing. Learn theory, play to backing tracks, learn a few of your favourite songs (and how they're structured to sound like that), and whatnot.

You don't become a good player just by asking how to solo. No offence.

Invest time and energy in music, and music will be your best friend. =)

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Last edited by sTx at Dec 7, 2009,