Composing Solos

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: soloing
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Okay people, it's great to practise scales and patterns and know all the theory in the world, but you have to be able to put it to practical use. So here, I've composed some short leads to show you a few different ways of writing leads. This one is played over a moderate rock groove. This first one is in A pentatonic minor. You can hear it with the rhythm accompaniment in the midi. It's played at 155 bpm. The chords played by the rhythm guitar are in brackets above the TAB. PH = Pinch Harmonic
(A5)                        (E5)                                  (C5)

                          (E5)                                   (A5)



Bar 1: This bar is a very straightforward melody in A melodic minor which allows the 'groove' to start implanting itself in the listener's mind as there's not much going on lead-wise. You generally shouldn't "go off" with a lead until the groove has had enough time to fix itself in the listener's mind; this time will be longer for grooves that are longer and more complex. Bar 2: This bar, to an extent, contradicts what I just said, as it is probably the trickiest and most complex lick in the whole lead! But, it does still work as I haven't gone outside the scale, and the speed is not sustained over a long period. It's a short, sharp, lick to grab the listener's attention momentarily and reassure them that I haven't fallen asleep. The reason it sounds complex is the wide interval leaps, with the use of the string skip and the open G string in a lick reasonably high on the neck. Bar 3: After Bar 2, I really needed to bring it back down a notch with another simple melody, finishing on the E in the next bar. Bar 4: This is just the sustained E note. The bar does include the beginning of the next phrase but as it really belongs as a lead-in to the next bar, I'll analyse it in the next bar. Bar 5: Now, it's just about time I jacked up the intensity properly, since the groove should be established in the listener's head by now. This lick is something like what an Yngwie Malmsteen or a Michael Angelo would play (although they'd play it faster; I didn't want to make this too tricky), its a Am7 arpeggio which I personally would play with sweep picking. It's all 16th notes; keep them even. Bar 6: This tapped trill is a classic 80's move which sounds kind of cool here. It's technincally 32nd notes, but don't worry about rhythm too much, just trill as fast as you can. The last 6 notes are another remnant from the 80's, legato speed triplets. It's a real Nuno Bettencourt/Joe Satriani type lick which comes in handy a lot; everyone should master their speed triplets, picked and hammered/pulled, they're useful and not tough. Bar 7: This is a simple pedal point lick to drop back the intensity again after the last two bars. Again, this is a Malmsteen type idea, but I slowed it down considerably from what he would play. But the slow speed sounds effective here, and it leads into the last bar well. Bar 8: The end. In a longer solo, say 12, 16, 24 bars, I'd pick up the intensity again after this bar, but this little fragment does the job of demonstrating the importance of contrasting intensities in a guitar solo, so I didn't think I needed to take it further.
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