#1
Maybe this is in the wrong place, because it might be more of a theory question, but I hope you guys can help me out all the same.

When playing a solo, how do you know what your "target notes" are besides the note that represents the key in which you're playing? I don't mean just the scale--like for example, if I'm playing All Along the Watchtower which is in E major (I believe), I know that the C#m pentatonic will work, and the E major scale will work.

But my question is, when playing phrases, how do you figure out which note to end on? That's what I mean by "target note." Hopefully I'm using that right.

I imagine it has to do with which chord you're soloing over at the time?

I'm just curious because I feel like a lot of my playing just sounds like mindless noodling. If i'm improvising over Watchtower's C#m, B, A chord progression and using the C#m pentatonic and the E major scale, a lot of the time when I end my phrases it just sounds like mindless wanking rather than something truly melodic.
#2
making it sound melodic takes practice and totally involves phrasing. phrasing is all about flow. what bends you use, finger vibrato and just the pacing of the notes themselves.

as to what you are asking well the easiest way to know where to end a solo is to have it resolve on the same note as the next chord being played. one of the things you ned to think about is also to end where you are postioned to go into the next section of the song. there really isn't a right or wrong way just some will sound better than others.

every one sounds like pointless wanking when they first try to solo. you just need to work on the flow and the note choices. it will come with time.
#3
What note to end on? Sometimes I end on a third or minor third. Sometimes I end on the tonic. Sometimes a... As Monwobobbo said, there is no right or wrong. I end on whatever note I think will sound good. One thing I like to do when ending a solo, is I like to phrase it so that it's very obvious that I'm wrapping it up. This helps the lead vocalist, other band members and even the audience. It's like I'm saying, I've made my statement and here's the end of my sentence. Again, which note you end on is up to you.
#4
I mean what note to generally end a phrase on, not the entire solo. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
#5
Quote by RyanMW2010
I mean what note to generally end a phrase on, not the entire solo. Sorry if that wasn't clear.


totally up to you that is part of phrasing. it's really up to you to determine how the solo plays out. keep in mind that it should keep the timing of the song to a reasonable degree. a solo should have a flow to it like start slow, get a little faster, sudden burst of notes and then end with a whammy bar dive. all up to you and how it fits in the song.

playing leads isn't easy and it's really tough when you first try to make up your own. you often either end up ripping off parts of solos you learned and shoving them together or it just sounds like cliche'd crap. i know belive me. i may work on a solo for one of my tunes that lasts 6 seconds for several days to get something i like. other times i just make it up as i go along.
#6
I hear you, monwobbo, and thanks for replying. I've been playing for the better part of 20 years and have been working on my lead playing earnest the last 3 years. Before that I was usually the singer/rhythm guitarist. So I'm kind of a beginner and kind of not I guess? I'm capable of playing some flashy stuff that sounds good, but I really need work on my musicality when improvising. I don't want to end up one of those "all flash, no substance" players.
#7
Quote by RyanMW2010
I hear you, monwobbo, and thanks for replying. I've been playing for the better part of 20 years and have been working on my lead playing earnest the last 3 years. Before that I was usually the singer/rhythm guitarist. So I'm kind of a beginner and kind of not I guess? I'm capable of playing some flashy stuff that sounds good, but I really need work on my musicality when improvising. I don't want to end up one of those "all flash, no substance" players.


ok well then you do have a solid foundation. think of a solo like a vocal part. i often noodle to the vocal lines in songs as that does help with making musical sounding solos. flash is easy making it sound good isn't. the flow is the same as a vocal line just with a guitar instead of a voice. start simple and work your way up. you're not going to come up with the next Stairway To Heaven or November Rain at the beginning (if ever). perhaps try to sing a solo and then work it out on guitar.
#8
Your target notes are notes that lead in the next chord. Ultimately, any note can lead into any chord, but generally the root, 5th and 3rd (the notes that make up a triad) are going to sound the most pleasing.
#9
You've just got to start using your ears - you can read all sorts of stuff with regards to scale and chord construction, harmony, intervals etc and it's all useful stuff, provided you can relate that information to what you're hearing.
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#10
You want to play the notes of the chord you are playing over. The 1, 3 and 5 of the chord sound best. If you want to play more than that, you must eventually land on the right note in a single direction. By that I mean if the chord is an Am7, you can play a D note as long as you play either an E or a C afterwards so it resolves. You can also play a D# even though it isnt in key (Unless you are in A locrian and the Am7 is really an Am7b5) as long as after that note you play an E. C wouldnt sound good because the D# is closer to the E than it is to the C and that makes the D# want to resolve to the E. However you can come from the C and play C D# then E and that will sound good. You also dont have to resolve to the E right away. You can dance around after, but the more dancing you do the more logically you have to resolve it and undo the "wrong" notes. Music might be art but there needs to be a method to your madness for it to sound "right". Even painting follows this rule. You cant just scribble all over a paper and call it art, it needs to have a foundation somewhere and there has to be logical meaning to the art.