#1
I think I'm a lost cause with soloing and improvising. I know the scales for whatever the backing track is in, but usually I have no idea what would sound good with the track; so it mostly feels and sounds like I'm just playing a random set of notes. I just can't seem to get a feel for it.

Tried to just listen to the track and just hum a melody but it was to no avail. After three weeks of no progress with it, I think I am not cut out for the improvising part of playing guitar. Any tips that helped others who had a similar issue?


EDIT: I may have badly stated it, but I think the issue is phrasing and not the actual notes per se.
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Last edited by rock.freak667 at May 18, 2011,
#2
Learn songs/solos that other people have recorded. You can know as much theory and whatever as there is, but you need to learn how to apply it.
#3
Don't give up. Any progress is progress great artist didn't get to be great in three weeks!!! Ive been playing for three something years learning all this theory and have gotten much closer to understanding how all things tie together scales , notes , chords etc. I don't think there is a way to speed the process just keep at it and it eventually clicks!! Youll find your own way for it to make sense . For me ; If you wanna solo to any piece I ussualy just mess around and feel for the right notes then when i have something I like i find the sharps / flats and decide the key im going with. From there Ill google a scale and try it out. DONT GIVE UP MAN!!! also jam to backing tracks with a metronome and youll be set. Feel free to ignore any of this if you find it useless just thought id share! good luck
#4
try to slow down and create small phrases.

once you have four or five small phrases, you can then figure out the lick that the phrases are based from. then you can learn those licks, that will help you figure out what to play so that it doesn't just sound random.
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#5
Listen to the blues, man. In no genre is phrasing more integral than the blues. Check out some B.B. King and really pay attention to how much he does with only a few notes, that's the basis of phrasing.

I was always taught to look at phrasing the same way one would approach telling a story, or having a conversation, and brevity is the soul of wit. Notes, as with words, must be chosen carefully in order to create the desired effect, otherwise one can begin to ramble aimlessly. On that note, one must also consider the value of not playing. The times at which one choses to remain silent can be just as, if not more important than when one is playing.

Hope that's in some way helpful.
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#6
You could try limiting yourself to just the root note and a note or two near it and improvise with them - if you only have 2 or 3 notes to use you can focus phrasing, and as you play around with them you should find you can come up with all sorts of little rhythms and phrases, especially if you start throwing in some bends and slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs. When you get confident add in another note or two and have a play with them.
#7
Quote by zhilla
You could try limiting yourself to just the root note and a note or two near it and improvise with them - if you only have 2 or 3 notes to use you can focus phrasing, and as you play around with them you should find you can come up with all sorts of little rhythms and phrases, especially if you start throwing in some bends and slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs. When you get confident add in another note or two and have a play with them.

^ agreed... start small and work with some simple phrases.
Don't get overwhelmed... improv skills take time to develop. There's a lot going on in your brain.

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#8
Thanks for the helpful advice everyone, I shall start small and work my way up as suggested.

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#9
Quote by zhilla
You could try limiting yourself to just the root note and a note or two near it and improvise with them - if you only have 2 or 3 notes to use you can focus phrasing, and as you play around with them you should find you can come up with all sorts of little rhythms and phrases, especially if you start throwing in some bends and slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs. When you get confident add in another note or two and have a play with them.

You're alive!

TS, I think the problem is that you're kind of expecting the scales to make the music for you. However, you still need to be the one coming ujp with the ideas and deciding what you want to do with those notes, in much the same way that a pallette of colours won't create a painting for an artist.

Just take some time to internalise the sounds you've got available to you, play around with them...not just on your guitar but with your voice, in your head and also listen out for them in any music you hear.
Actually called Mark!

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#10
Quote by steven seagull

Just take some time to internalise the sounds you've got available to you, play around with them...not just on your guitar but with your voice, in your head and also listen out for them in any music you hear.


I wasn't expecting the scales to magically make me improvise well, it is just that when I listen and try to think what would sound good wherever, I just end sitting there going "I have no idea if this sounds good or what will sound good here".
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#11
Quote by mcraddict81592
Listen to the blues, man. In no genre is phrasing more integral than the blues. Check out some B.B. King and really pay attention to how much he does with only a few notes, that's the basis of phrasing.

I was always taught to look at phrasing the same way one would approach telling a story, or having a conversation, and brevity is the soul of wit. Notes, as with words, must be chosen carefully in order to create the desired effect, otherwise one can begin to ramble aimlessly. On that note, one must also consider the value of not playing. The times at which one choses to remain silent can be just as, if not more important than when one is playing.

Hope that's in some way helpful.


Well said... BB King had a perfect saying for what you just wrote "Notes are expensive spend them wisley"

The only person I have ever heard with better phrasing and spacing than BB King is Miles Davis. One of my favorite quotes is by Miles he says "“Don't play what's there, play what's not there.” another great one by Victor Wooten is "leave some holes, who knows maybe some music will fall out"... in Miles Davis' song "blue in green" he stops playing for 30 seconds in the middle of the song. That IMO is the sign of a true master musican, he put so much emotion behind it that he can hold your attention while not playing. Not many musicans have the balls to attempt that, let alone the talent to actually pull it off.


OP, he is right... chances are when you think of theory all you think of is scales, modes, chords, ect... notes. While notes are important there is so much more that goes into music than just notes. Phrasing, spacing, emotion, dynamics, tone, rhythm, articulation, technique, ect... are all equally important.

You may know all the so called "right" notes but if you dont know when and how to apply the other aspects of music your playing will reflect that.
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#12
Quote by rock.freak667
I wasn't expecting the scales to magically make me improvise well, it is just that when I listen and try to think what would sound good wherever, I just end sitting there going "I have no idea if this sounds good or what will sound good here".


Thats the fun part... the only way to know is by trial and error. Try something if it sounds good use it, if it sounds bad don't.

The number one thing I've found that holds back most musicans is... they are afraid to make mistakes. There is no such thing as a mistake in music, just things we didn't intend/expect. It's up to you if you see it as a mistake or as another experiance which gives you a chance to learn and grown as a musican.

A very helpful tool is to play what you sing... when you hear something on the radio I bet you can hum a pretty cool solo to it. So next time try to play what you're singing, it sounds dumb but it works. You'll instantly play with more feel and your phrasing and spacing will improve as well.
Quote by MetlHed94



Well played, sir, well played.
#13
Quote by TheMooseKnuckle
Thats the fun part... the only way to know is by trial and error. Try something if it sounds good use it, if it sounds bad don't.

The number one thing I've found that holds back most musicans is... they are afraid to make mistakes. There is no such thing as a mistake in music, just things we didn't intend/expect. It's up to you if you see it as a mistake or as another experiance which gives you a chance to learn and grown as a musican.

A very helpful tool is to play what you sing... when you hear something on the radio I bet you can hum a pretty cool solo to it. So next time try to play what you're singing, it sounds dumb but it works. You'll instantly play with more feel and your phrasing and spacing will improve as well.


hmm...so starting small and following a hummed melody seems to be working slowly for me. Progress is progress so!
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#14
Little steps and all that
Actually called Mark!

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