#1
Hello UG Community,

I've been working on theory lately and am wondering how far down the rabbit hole I need to go in order to become a good soloist. I have a pretty solid grasp on the fretboard; major/minor scales; circle of 5ths and scale degrees--but I'm at a bit of a plateau at this point in time and am curious on what else I need to work on.

Does anybody have just a general 'must-know' list of what any solid soloist needs to know? (i.e modes; which scales to play over a progression; etc.) Or a good resource that could steer me in the right direction?

thanks!
#2
Theory won't make you a good soloist, but it will help you understand what you/others are doing so you can replicate it more easily, explain it to others and use it with other concepts.

The most general advice that i can give, that is good for all genres of music, is to study your chords. I don't mean simply chord shapes and such, i mean learn what notes goes into what type of chord and how to outline each chord in a progression. I rarely think about scales at all, the thing that gets my attention is always the chord(s) i am playing over, cause there you have the best notes in the world to play, everything else is merely for extra flavor.

Buy yeah, study chords very closely. Can you name the third of any category of chord at any root? the fifth? seventh? Can you name the notes often used as extensions on those chords? For example on a major chord can you name the #11? or the 13th?
#3
Quote by Sickz
Theory won't make you a good soloist, but it will help you understand what you/others are doing so you can replicate it more easily, explain it to others and use it with other concepts.

The most general advice that i can give, that is good for all genres of music, is to study your chords. I don't mean simply chord shapes and such, i mean learn what notes goes into what type of chord and how to outline each chord in a progression. I rarely think about scales at all, the thing that gets my attention is always the chord(s) i am playing over, cause there you have the best notes in the world to play, everything else is merely for extra flavor.

Buy yeah, study chords very closely. Can you name the third of any category of chord at any root? the fifth? seventh? Can you name the notes often used as extensions on those chords? For example on a major chord can you name the #11? or the 13th?



+1 to Sickz advice. I've long felt that a player is as good as their chord knowledge (in terms of musicality), and how they handle time (phrasing), with mechanical technique being a poor cousin if these others are lacking. Personally I still think in a blend of chord / scale(s) / overall sound effect [if I'm consciously planning ahead as I'm improvising].

And even if you can't name the pitches involved, can you still find them by knowing where they occur by interval (and shape and sound)?

cheers, Jerry
#4
Sounds to me like you already know enough to start playing solos. Theory knowledge will not make you a great solo player. Playing solos will make you a great solo player.

This will just take a lot of time coupled with trial and error. Just start playing to as many backing tracks as you can and eventually you'll begin to find your voice. There are TONS of free backing tracks on youtube. I take advantage of these constantly for my own lead playing as well as giving something to my students to play over.

The more solos you play the better you will be at playing solos.
#5
I've said this before a few times and it seems to work and correlate with musical professionalism:

There are somewhat two types or stages of music theory: Essentials and Definitions.

Essentials are things like understanding scale shapes, how chords are made, how to make a melody within the chords, etc. Stuff like that.

Definitions are musical ideas, progressions, markings, etc. given terms that are easy to refer to. For example, the command "get louder," or "increase in volume," is given an easy to refer to term, crescendo. There are better examples, like where a musician has named a certain chordage or a type of melodic line, but I don't know them.

You seem to have a solid grasp of the "essentials," but I would look into modes, or at least harmony, to see how to best milk a chord progression when you're playing a solo. Definitive theory could help you somewhat create an idea-repertoire which you can apply to your lick selection for solos.

Quote by milehighshred
There are TONS of free backing tracks on youtube. I take advantage of these constantly for my own lead...


Agreed. You can riff for hours and hours...
Last edited by Will Lane at Nov 19, 2014,
#6
^ Practical versus theoretical would probably be the terms, I guess.
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