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#1
I've heard many people mention that they improvise when on stage. I have been playing for about a year and a half. Have been learning songs note for note. Some Def Leppard, Guns n roses, Deep Purple, Cream, just to name some of the bands. Mind you they're not recording quality by any means, but I can hold my own to the recording, and I feel I am doing pretty good for only a year and a half of playing.

Anyways, I learn the songs note for note, and study it what makes the guitar so appealing. I am also going to write my Intermediate Theory Exam with the royal conservatory.

I also just recently added licks to my practice regimen. Which leads to my question.

When you improvise do you refer to a playbook of licks that you just transpose into the key the band is playing in? I play over top of backing tracks, but I don't know how you could just improvise fast licks without your fingers under you.

thanks
#2
I don't purposely play preconceived licks when improvising. There are certain runs or little patterns that I'll use frequently, but usually the only time I'll go to some standard lick that I'm already very familiar with is when I can't think of anything cool at the moment. However, when improvising a solo in a song that I've played many times I'll start building up a repertoire and remembering the things that I liked about my previous solos and it becomes more and more stable the more I've improvised over a song because it's starts being less and less actual improvising and more of me rehashing old ideas in different ways. It kinda reminds me of when you tell someone a story about something that happened to you - the more you tell the story to more people the more you find yourself using the same phrases and the variation is less and less. Then you get bored of it and purposely start changing it up a little even though nobody listening to the story could know if they haven't heard it already.

This kinda stuff does effect your all around playing as well - you build up a memory of musical phrases for different contexts that can turn into licks, but in my opinion it's better if they're not completely solidified into actual licks that you straight transpose to whatever key you're in, but stay as more malleable and tweakable ideas. Of course, learning and writing some standard licks can be helpful when you're getting started improvising, and they'll always be of some use, but if you spend too much time playing the same old licks it can sound stale.
#3
Ideally I'll be thinking about the chord structure and planning my solo out to hit chord tones as it goes. If not I'll just be trying to make a melody that sounds good.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#4
I improvise a lot and rarely play a solo the same way twice. There are exceptions like signature hook solos that you gotta have to make the song work, but otherwise I kinda go all SRV. I have a general plan with beginning, middle, and end but often take little side excursions and adventures. I draw on a bag full of licks and melodies and allow the room and the audience to inspire me. Sometimes I'll close my eyes and imagine I am in the scene the song is written about. It opens the door to a lot of magic discoveries and also a few dead end streets. Such is life.

People often say afterwards "wow you really get into a zone and just start soaring." Yep, describes it pretty well. I let my ears and fingers do the work and the less I think about it, the better it gets.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jun 8, 2015,
#5
I don't play in a band setting too often, but I improvise a lot (genre- rock, metal, but primarily symphonic metal). What I usually do is improvise a lot on my own, try to remember a cool improv part out of the many that I practiced, then play one with the band in front of people. I don't want to look "lost" while trying to think of something "cool" to play in front of people. However, if it's punk, some rock style, then I'll usually just improvise something on the fly, resorting to pentatonics, nothing that requires too much theory.
#6
I'd like to say i improvise by ear, listening to the track i am improvising over and playing the things i hear in my head.

That being said, i have done tons of pre-rehearsing for several years in order to do that somewhat good. I know the sound of different progressions, i have practiced phrases over all different chord types, I have taken concepts from other players improvisations, i have been singing solos for years. Improvisation is knowing your instrument and the music your playing so well that you can say anything you want.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#7
I like the answer given above by The4thhorsemen because that's pretty much how I do it. The songs I play have been well rehearsed or played a lot before I ever play them live to get the arrangement tight, the vocals right etc. During those rehearsals I get to try a few different approaches to getting into and out of a solo. The better ideas somehow stay with me so I can start a solo and end it each night and the first few measures and last few measures may be pre-determined in a 'round about sense but the lead itself is whatever happens. I know I don't play any lead exactly the same each time (with a few exceptions). Sometimes I just learn the first two to four measures of the original recorded solo just to get the proper feel but after that I just ad lib. In my band I am one of the vocalists so I have to be ready to jump back on the mic with either a lead or harmony vocal part. That may put things in a different perspective than if you are just playing guitar.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 9, 2015,
#8
One of the reasons theory exists, is to make complex things more simple. Instead of thinking of a chord as 4 separate notes, 4 separate sounds combined, you can think of it as one sound, that chord has, and name it. Same with scales. So, I improvise brand new stuff I've never heard or played ever all the time. That is what I'm trying to do when I improvise. Although I will obviously run through scales at times, and arpeggiate chords, and have some licks I use often kind of out of habit, or subliminally for some reason, but I never sit there learning licks.

When you get used to guitar, and name theory, playing quickly becomes much easier. But you do have to do that, because the notes come so fast, that there is no time to think of what you want the next note to be, and then where it is. You have to think of the string you want, and where the string is.
#9
Most guitarists have their signature licks that they play in a lot of their solos. But a solo is not just licks, just like a solo is not just scales or arpeggios. Yes, a solo usually has some or all of them, but it's more than that. I think a good solo has an idea behind it. It's not just licks after licks, just like a good song is not just riffs after riffs. The ideas need to be connected. Improvising is pretty much like songwriting, but you just have a lot less time to think. I think "ideal" improvisation would be hearing sounds in your head and playing them exactly like you hear them. Of course this requires good technique and good ears. But I think you could try singing a melody and figure it out on your guitar. Sing what you play, play what you sing.

I think there's a lot of good stuff in this video (especially the first 10 minutes).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVO1pv5Vf5w

So yeah, try hearing melodies in your head and play them. It's not easy in the beginning of course. Singing what you hear helps.


Listen to the progression you are playing over. That will usually inspire you to hear stuff. I think using your ears is the most important thing when it comes to improvisation (well, it's the most important thing in anything music related).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#11
This is really why it's important to learn some blues and jazz. Those styles really focus on the improvisation and you will really learn a lot by taking on those approaches.

If you want to understand and get into improvising - start learning music by ear ( solos)and start noodling. I'd recommend blues because it's easier. Sing what you play in your head.
#12
Improvising a solo: Attempt to take the harmony the band is playing, and the harmony I feel like playing, and connect them in a linear way.

Improvising a full piece: Have a conversation with my bandmates. Everyone solos and no one solos, all the time.

As far as your question, it's like saying, "man, I dunno how you talk like that without resorting to a list of stock sentences."

You just do it for a long time, and then it does itself.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#14
I listen to what's going on, determine the key and play in a way that interacts with the music, and the changes. I develop my theme and let my ears guide me. By now my ears go to chord tones, so I dont need to think in them, although I can just as easily choose a target as well. I play by inspiration, and whatever I want to do, I have the skillsets, pitch collection, feel, experience, theory overview, and familiarity with the instrument to play what I want.

I play what's in my head. If it's a lick, it was one I heard in my head that I wanted there.

Best,

Sean
#15
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Most guitarists have their signature licks that they play in a lot of their solos. But a solo is not just licks, just like a solo is not just scales or arpeggios. Yes, a solo usually has some or all of them, but it's more than that. I think a good solo has an idea behind it. It's not just licks after licks, just like a good song is not just riffs after riffs. The ideas need to be connected. Improvising is pretty much like songwriting, but you just have a lot less time to think. I think "ideal" improvisation would be hearing sounds in your head and playing them exactly like you hear them. Of course this requires good technique and good ears. But I think you could try singing a melody and figure it out on your guitar. Sing what you play, play what you sing.

I think there's a lot of good stuff in this video (especially the first 10 minutes).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVO1pv5Vf5w

So yeah, try hearing melodies in your head and play them. It's not easy in the beginning of course. Singing what you hear helps.


Listen to the progression you are playing over. That will usually inspire you to hear stuff. I think using your ears is the most important thing when it comes to improvisation (well, it's the most important thing in anything music related).


Didn't care much for the interviewer in that, but the video was pretty cool. It's funny he has had almost the opposite approach to guitar as me. It is a real shame his hearing got so bad also.

But you can really see how much he relied on licks and things he learned, rather that played truly with feel, and he even found that difficult, later on. He even goofs on the video, which I loved. I find that you can really hear when a guitarist is playing creatively, with a lot of feel, and when their hands are just doing things they were trained to do.
#16
^ Yeah, the interviewer was annoying. Just when Paul Gilbert was about to say something interesting, the interviewer interrupted him. But nevertheless, it still had a lot of good stuff in it.

You can use the same lick creatively and just play it pointlessly. I think knowing a lot of licks/phrases/whatever helps (you learn them when you learn other people's solos). But a good solo is never just licks after licks.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#17
When I'm improvising well, I'm not thinking at all. Almost all of my conscious attention is on listening. What are my bandmates doing?

And then - and this is one where a lot of young improviser screw up - I don't play until I have an idea for something to play.

If you do those two things (listen, and wait for ideas) you'll have a lot of fun and people will love playing with you.

Ear training is a hugely important part of this, for two reasons. The first is that you need to be able to hear what your bandmates are doing so you can react to it. The second is that the better your ear gets, the more subconscious the process of making music becomes. You have an idea, you just play it. Whereas if your ear is poor, you not only struggle to follow your bandmates changes, but your playing process is the equivalent of writing by saying, "okay, maybe I'll put a letter E here. And the letter N works next to an E, so I'll do that. No ... two Ns in a row. Great. Now I need another vowel ..." etc.
#18
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ Yeah, the interviewer was annoying. Just when Paul Gilbert was about to say something interesting, the interviewer interrupted him. But nevertheless, it still had a lot of good stuff in it.

You can use the same lick creatively and just play it pointlessly. I think knowing a lot of licks/phrases/whatever helps (you learn them when you learn other people's solos). But a good solo is never just licks after licks.


It definitely can, and on piano, I do know a few licks like that, when I go into sort of Oscar peterson grooves mode, but I'm not sure I can think of a single one I know on guitar. I don't learn peoples' solos either. Which is probably why lol.

But I do try and be able to play whatever I think. And definitely lots of kicks I've heard are sound licks in my mind. So, in that sense, I have learned licks but not in the traditional sense.

I tried to keep most of everything I trained physically to be very generic, sort of theory things so that my "learned" things were very basic fundamental building blocks I could shape into anything, rather than more advanced licks, which wouldnonly really be useful as that lick, but as you say, you can toy with a lick quite a lot with rhythm, tempo and all that stuff.

I still developed muscle memory things and I guess "signature" licks, but those are my least favorite things. I like all the new fresh stuff. I could not play those "signature licks" as a separate lick for you though. They would just appear as I'm playing sort of thing. So, in my mind, from my perspective, it is all a blank slate, aside from the basic patterns, like CAGED, and 3nps, and major scale pattern, but these are just shapes, a framework, and there is no order to them, or rhythm.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jun 10, 2015,
#19
I combine theory knowledge (2nd nature now) with vocabulary, with spontaneiity. The only time I'll play a solo note for note is if its well-known and expected ... other than that ... I'll listen, and develop on phrases. I'm not really thinking too hard ... I just play ... but I have studied, practised, gigged, and recorded for years and years.

cheers, Jerry
#20
When in doubt, just follow this simple guide and you will be the next guitar hero:

https://thegigeasy.com/how-to-construct-a-perfect-jazz-solo/

"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#22
When I go up to play in front of people and improvise a song I start off by playing a nice groovy chord progression that I can really dig and vibe off of, and they I just outline the chords with single notes. I either shred thru my modes, or play off minor pentatonic box shapes and try and visualize the difference in notes.

Shredding is really fun and I would love to give a lesson on what I am doing when I am shredding because I feel like it could help some folks out.
#23
let's just be honest here, don't worry about improvising live. the only time you really get to do it is when you're soloing or in a jam band, and in either case, having a cohesive grasp on how to just write music is far more important than how to write it on the fly. learn to crawl before you sprint.
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#24
^ Yeah, it has a lot to do with what kind of a band you are playing in. Though if TS wants to learn to improvise, I think he should. It's not about how "beneficial" the skill is. It's about what you want to do as a musician. For example a classical orchestra musician never needs to be able to improvise, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't learn to improvise. It's not really an important skill for them, but if you want to do something, why not learn to do it?

In a basic rock band improvisation is really not needed - you can write all your solos and play all of them note for note live. That's what most bands do. But you can do it for fun. Even if you are not going to do it live, it's still fun to have a jam with your band.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jun 15, 2015,
#25
This.

It all depends on your goals as a musician. I know some totally killer players who can't improvise, and some great improvisers who can't do other things anywhere near as well.

My group is pretty improvisation heavy. If we aren't improvising entire songs on the fly live, our regular tunes are just frameworks for improvisation, and we're free to "take it" somewhere, because we're tight enough to know when to go back into the actual song without train wrecking.

Some groups don't improvise ever. To each their own.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#26
I can't stand playing non improvised music. It's just way too boring for me. In a band, I can stick to a constant groove, because that's what is needed at times, but even at that, I can't just stick always to just repetition. I will inevitably stick some subtle changes in there.

I also don't like too many instruments doing too much, because it gets all clashy, so you can't just always go and wail as much as you want, but if I'm just playing a set of notes, acting, rather than reacting, I don't really like it that much. It's not, really creative enough for me. But, I can just play some simple thing, and groove along as I listen to someone else do something cool though also.

Anyone that ever plans on improvising ever, should start right at the beginning. One might not need to improvise in order to play in a band, but any band can also use the skill of improvisation, from time to time, at the very least.

To me, there is nothing more special musically, because improvisation is just a fleeting moment shared with those people in attendance. It appears for a moment and it is gone.

A beautiful masterpiece, which is planned out and recorded, is beautiful and takes skill and talent to produce, but it exists, essentially forever, for as many listens as possible.

An improvisation exists only temporarily, for the moment it is played. Some people always want to hear what's on the CD. I prefer to hear a great musician play their heart out, and experience that magic with them for the single moment that it exists.

I actually find writing solos pretty lame that way. But whatever, if people like to do it, are happy doing it, and other people enjoy it, then that's awesome still.
#27
Quote by Jet Penguin
This.

It all depends on your goals as a musician. I know some totally killer players who can't improvise, and some great improvisers who can't do other things anywhere near as well.

My group is pretty improvisation heavy. If we aren't improvising entire songs on the fly live, our regular tunes are just frameworks for improvisation, and we're free to "take it" somewhere, because we're tight enough to know when to go back into the actual song without train wrecking.

Some groups don't improvise ever. To each their own.


there's a great difference between one person improvising and a band improvising.

let me rephrase from my first thought: it is really rare that improvising (from the sensibilities of someone playing alone or to a static backing track in your bedroom) will come into play in a live setting.

you won't necessarily gain the experience, restraint, and "feel" of improvising live that way. plus, in that setting, working with people and checking egos is just as important as being able to play - in your bedroom you can play whatever you want, but i hardly think your bassist and drummer are gonna wanna sit and shuffle the same groove while you bore the audience to death with your 8th 2 minute solo

i understand the principle of "it depends on what your goals are" but when you're still flicking through guns n roses tabs there's a point where you have to think pragmatically and understand that a firm grasp of fundamentals will enhance your ability to grow in those areas

if you understand chord building, harmonization, can listen, and have some finger dexterity, you already have 80% of the abilities required to improvise

plus, like i said, improvising is writing on the fly. if you can't internalize what sounds good (which is gained through analyzation and writing your own music and lots of trial and error), i mean, yeah, you'll have fun...until 5 years later when you're watching a gig you recorded and realize what a wanker you looked like
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#28
^I agree with you. However:

Yes, the backing track thing isn't the best way to practice, but you have to do SOMETHING to train yourself to improvise, so I'd hardly call playing alone or to existing music useless. When the hell else are you supposed to practice?
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#29
Quote by Hail
there's a great difference between one person improvising and a band improvising.

let me rephrase from my first thought: it is really rare that improvising (from the sensibilities of someone playing alone or to a static backing track in your bedroom) will come into play in a live setting.

you won't necessarily gain the experience, restraint, and "feel" of improvising live that way. plus, in that setting, working with people and checking egos is just as important as being able to play - in your bedroom you can play whatever you want, but i hardly think your bassist and drummer are gonna wanna sit and shuffle the same groove while you bore the audience to death with your 8th 2 minute solo

i understand the principle of "it depends on what your goals are" but when you're still flicking through guns n roses tabs there's a point where you have to think pragmatically and understand that a firm grasp of fundamentals will enhance your ability to grow in those areas

if you understand chord building, harmonization, can listen, and have some finger dexterity, you already have 80% of the abilities required to improvise

plus, like i said, improvising is writing on the fly. if you can't internalize what sounds good (which is gained through analyzation and writing your own music and lots of trial and error), i mean, yeah, you'll have fun...until 5 years later when you're watching a gig you recorded and realize what a wanker you looked like


The OP asked for how to go about improvising. It is not useful information to say "don't practice improvising, it won't be useful to you." Because, it is what they want to learn.

I never learned what sounded good from analysis. What sounds good to me, is what I want to hear. It is innate. The instrument is just a tool I train with, so that the ideas which would be in my head had I never had any musical training anyway, can be heard by others. That's all.

Blanket statements are tough to make in music. There are all kinds of musicians, and all kinds of different approaches which are suitable for different people.

Obviously, improvisation has certain things you need to be sensitive about, like not going all ego crazy, but art is not about ego in the first place. It is not about you. It is not showing off. It is creating great art. That might mean you need to play just subtle chords, and it might mean you need to speed burst. It is also something you need to be careful not to make too boring.

It's an art. That's what it is all about. But that doesn't mean someone shouldn't learn it. People improvise. A lot of musicians are very good at it. A lot of musicians are famous for it. If someone makes a thread asking about how to go about learning to do that, it makes no sense to respond by telling them not to.

Playing to a backing track is fine. It's missing a little bit of a dynamic aspect, but if anything that just makes it easier. If you suck, and you play with me, I will be able to cover for a lot of the ****ups you make. I will be able to adjust timing for you and all stuff like that. I will not like that, and I will never want to play with you again, from an artistic creative standpoint, but I could fix a lot of stuff because I can compensate and react to what you do. A backing track can't do that. If you mess up on a backing track, it's messed up.

by that same token though, if I am playing with you, I can decide to telegraph a change, or make a change that I expect you to accommodate, and you need to have that skill, which you won't ever use on a backing track, and vice versa. So, you can't practice letting the backing track know your intentions, and you can't practice accommodating your backing track's whim for some vibe. But other than that, there's not much difference, aside from you're always the solo, and never the backing track.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jun 16, 2015,
#30
^Yep.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#31
i mean you can write music


it's like improvising but you actually learn something and have a record of those sounds


@"let everybody do what they waaaant" - if somebody's changing their battery because their cylinder's aren't firing, i'm gonna point that out. similarly, if someone learns all their music via tabs and doesn't understand why it's so hard to write chord progressions, i'll tell them to learn music by ear passively. it's just a common courtesy. especially given that everyone else is suggesting their own ideas, my opinion is diluted. it's not like i'm going to actively say that he can't practice whatever he wants, i'm just presenting a different perspective to consider

plus i mean it's MT i'll disagree just for the sake of disagreeing, isn't that like the whole mood of this board
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Last edited by Hail at Jun 16, 2015,
#32
^That's the part I was agreeing with you on. You and fingerpiking both raise excellent points about the nature of training oneself musically.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#33
Quote by Hail
i mean you can write music


it's like improvising but you actually learn something and have a record of those sounds


@"let everybody do what they waaaant" - if somebody's changing their battery because their cylinder's aren't firing, i'm gonna point that out. similarly, if someone learns all their music via tabs and doesn't understand why it's so hard to write chord progressions, i'll tell them to learn music by ear passively. it's just a common courtesy. especially given that everyone else is suggesting their own ideas, my opinion is diluted. it's not like i'm going to actively say that he can't practice whatever he wants, i'm just presenting a different perspective to consider

plus i mean it's MT i'll disagree just for the sake of disagreeing, isn't that like the whole mood of this board


Improvisation, and songwriting are typically very different though. Songwriting is often just simple chords/rhythm and the progression that is written, or it is the crafting of something to be played as a set piece.

Improvisation, is generally taking a provided progression, and sort of theme, and toying with that on the fly. So, there is no trial and error, no comparing to maybe change this, or that, and the progression is generally provided. It's more of an emotional toying with extensions and substitutions, and rhythm. Something spontaneous.

They are different skill sets. I find that songwriting can help to learn roman numerals sort of thing, but you can songwrite and know those things in sort of a slow way. In improvisation, you need to learn your fretboard in a very basic and intuitive way, where if you want to play a sound, you need to play it at that moment, with no hesitation, without breaking rhythm. There is no time to ponder, or guess, or think about it. You need to play the sound right when you want the sound.

It's a bit different.

I agree with you that if someone is going about learning somethign the wrong way, it is helpful to give them good advice, but OP said that he HAD learned some solos note for note in some songs, and was wondering about improvising solos. I had learned some solos note for note at first also. He was unclear as to what his goals were, or why he wanted to learn to improvise. He only made a statement about what he had done in the past, and that he would like to learn about improvisation on stage.

You might be right, maybe he just wants to be a cover band, idk. But before you tell him not to do something, it would be better I think to find out what his intentions are. It's like he came to you and said "How do you fix a started motor?" and you went, "Don't fix your starter motor, it's your battery you want to fix." Without having asked him more about the car. Right? We don't know what his goals are. We only know he learned a few songs and their solos note for note, and that he asked about improvising on stage, and what is involved.

For me, any serious lead guitarist needs to be able to improvise. If you want to be in a cover band, you don't. That said, there are probably a number of famous bands that have guitarists that can't really improvise, and I find that pretty lame. To me, that's kind of like lip syncing to your previous recording or something like that. It's not a genuine solo if it is not improvised imo.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jun 16, 2015,
#34
Quote by fingrpikingood

For me, any serious lead guitarist needs to be able to improvise. If you want to be in a cover band, you don't. That said, there are probably a number of famous bands that have guitarists that can't really improvise, and I find that pretty lame. To me, that's kind of like lip syncing to your previous recording or something like that. It's not a genuine solo if it is not improvised imo.

If the solo you recorded is great, why change it? Some solos just need to be played note for note.

It's different if you are playing jazz (or some other improvisation based style) where usually the whole point is to improvise, and you play the same solo every time. But in a basic rock band I don't think you need to improvise every solo. It depends on what you are playing.


Also, when you are recording a solo, I don't think it should be 100% improvised either. Many great solos were thought out. Because why not play the best possible solo? Making an album is not the same as playing live, and you can always re-record parts. So if you are not satisfied on any of your improvised solos, but by combining the different ideas from the solos you could make a great solo, why not do that?

It is of course different if the genre you are playing is focused on improvising.


I wouldn't compare playing a solo note for note to lip synching. I mean, that way the whole band would be "lip synching" all the time when they are always playing the songs with the same structure. If none of the other parts of the song are changed, why should the solo be changed every time?
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#35
^It's crazy right? It's almost like people have different goals and desires creatively and that you can't put everyone into a box, because no one form of artistic expression is more valid than another. Wow.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#36
Quote by MaggaraMarine
If the solo you recorded is great, why change it? Some solos just need to be played note for note.
Because it existed, it was heard, and another great one which is influenced by all the current environment can be created, which I find is a beautiful thing.

There's nothing wrong with set pieces though, if that's what people want to do, but to me, that's not what soloing is all about.

It's different if you are playing jazz (or some other improvisation based style) where usually the whole point is to improvise, and you play the same solo every time. But in a basic rock band I don't think you need to improvise every solo. It depends on what you are playing.
Nobody needs to do anything. I just find a genuine solo is better than a planned one. It's the expression of the artist. A planned one I find is kind of cheap.


Also, when you are recording a solo, I don't think it should be 100% improvised either. Many great solos were thought out. Because why not play the best possible solo? Making an album is not the same as playing live, and you can always re-record parts. So if you are not satisfied on any of your improvised solos, but by combining the different ideas from the solos you could make a great solo, why not do that?
Sure, on recordings I make I do lots of takes for the solo, and sometimes I mix a couple together. A recording is different. It is meant to be locked in time forever. It is like a sculputure, not an organic moment of self expression, really. I mean there are elements of that obviously, but it is more of a construction, than self expression.


I wouldn't compare playing a solo note for note to lip synching. I mean, that way the whole band would be "lip synching" all the time when they are always playing the songs with the same structure. If none of the other parts of the song are changed, why should the solo be changed every time?


I would. Because that's the point of thet solo. If you sing all the parts exactly the same way, with all the exact same fills, I will think the same thing. The rest of the parts need to be consistent to a certain degree, in order to work together and fit with each other.

there are some times where a little diddy can be played in the holes between the vocal melody, but the band members need to be very careful not to step on each others' toes. Often the lead vocalist, if they play an instrument will have the right of way to play those little phrases, and even if they don't play one, they might do that with their vocals.

A solo, is an opportunity where all of the band goes basic and leaves the floor to the instrument that is going to solo.

If it's sometghing that's pre-written, then it is not special to me. It doesn't have that rarity, that magic of the moment thing. It is not the free expression of a talented musician that I'm getting. It is not something fresh or new. It is nothing I wouldn't get from a cover band. It doesn't have much worth to me because of that.

It's like you said, the same as if you recorded an album in a studio. Sure, in a studio, you take the time to fabricate a sculpture. That's the studio. That's why it's like lip syncing to me. Just mimicking the studio recording. Anybody that's decent at their instrument can recreate a solo like that. That's basic. You could say they didn't write it, but who knows what the process was for the studio solo also?

Idk, i just find it cheap. I wanna hear a great artist spill their guts. I wanna hear how they feel at that time. Something new, something special for that specific moment. An artist that just plays a set solo is kind of a cop out to me. It's cheating. I mean, ok, you wrote a nice solo on the album. You can't come up with another nice solo? But it's more than that. Because the crowd, the weather, the vibe, the other guys playing the other instruments can all influence a solo, and create something magic, instead of just going through the motions like a human CD player. I can listen to the studio version whenever I want. I believe a great artist can make a great solo every time. I never listen tommy emmanuel, or Joe Pass, or Oscar peterson, and think "too bad, that sucked. If only he played that like the album version." It's always good.

I get it, rock bands are not jazz artists, but still, I believe solos should be organic honest self expression, and anything less is kind of cheap and lame a la lip sync. It's like that to me. It's like it turns who should be a great songwriter/musician/band into some everyday high school cover band.

That's what I believe. But if people like performing set solos, and others like hearing the studio solos, then all of those people are happy, and I'm happy about that, but to me, it misses the whole essence of what a solo should be.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jun 16, 2015,
#37
^ Well, I'm not going to argue, but I'll just say I disagree.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#38
I certainly don't totally agree either. Improv is my mind a vehicle, not a solo show.

No one solos and everyone solos. Human backing tracks don't excite me.

Regardless, this isn't about the aesthetics of improv, it's about what we who improvise do during that process. Nothing more nothing less.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#39
For me it depends on the song. I saw the Eagles last fall and when they played "Hotel California" it was note for note like the recorded version (as it should be). It's a classic and if they played it any other way with Joe just taking off on an improvised solo the audience would have been very disappointed. Several weeks later I saw a show with Eric Johnson and Mike Stern. Even on some of his best known stuff like "Cliffs of Dover" Eric improvised a lot but always came back to certain passages that were touchstones on the record and kept the audience moving with him so it wasn't just a jam with a familiar beginning and ending. Songs and artists are not one size fits all.

It's all about what I expect from each artist. Is this a song that is best left as it was recorded or was it something meant to be improvised a little? When I play with my band we have many songs that are perfect for improvised solos and some where it is more vocal oriented with multi-layered harmonies. The last thing I want is someone improvising over a beautiful three part harmony vocal because they feel the urge to improvise.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 16, 2015,
#40
^Unless you're The Band and you can improvise three part vocal harmony.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
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