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How to solo like this? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 11th July 2018
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

How to solo like this?

I've never been a big lead (guitar) player but really want to be able to play lead in the style in this song (the solo in particular):

YouTube

I understand the basics of this genre pretty well - circular I-IV-V type progressions, plenty of 3rd and 6th intervals but I'm not so sure about playing that lead style well (I can do it to a point, but I wouldn't say I do it well!).

Any ideas/tips gratefully received.

What kind of scales?

What kind of sequences (for phrasing)?

Techniques?

Anything else?

Thanks in advance.
Old 13th July 2018
  #3
I had written a little about the lead/main guitar in this yesterday but something happened and it didn't get posted.

What little I could offer is that his highlife type style is clearly heavy on short multi-stop figures and embellished chord/partial chord playing, although I recall some linear melodic lead in one section, as well.

You might want to take a look at this several minute vid from someone who's clearly been studying various highlife styles. I wouldn't say he's got a firm, mature grasp on the style -- but sometimes it's easier to pull things apart a little when they aren't glued together so well. (To stretch a metaphor, hopefully not past the breaking point.)

I would (for now) largely ignore his sometimes focused, sometimes noodly, sometimes awkward (but always speedy ) lead bits and pay attention to his multi-stop work, as that is more the signature of the example in your OP. If you look at his use of 'partial' chords and two and three finger chord blocks as used as moving figures, you should be able to get some insight into what is going on in the original track.

Old 14th July 2018
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I had written a little about the lead/main guitar in this yesterday but something happened and it didn't get posted.

What little I could offer is that his highlife type style is clearly heavy on short multi-stop figures and embellished chord/partial chord playing, although I recall some linear melodic lead in one section, as well.

You might want to take a look at this several minute vid from someone who's clearly been studying various highlife styles. I wouldn't say he's got a firm, mature grasp on the style -- but sometimes it's easier to pull things apart a little when they aren't glued together so well. (To stretch a metaphor, hopefully not past the breaking point.)

I would (for now) largely ignore his sometimes focused, sometimes noodly, sometimes awkward (but always speedy ) lead bits and pay attention to his multi-stop work, as that is more the signature of the example in your OP. If you look at his use of 'partial' chords and two and three finger chord blocks as used as moving figures, you should be able to get some insight into what is going on in the original track.

Many thanks for this. I should have said that I'm very familiar with (in particular) East African styles as I played lead guitar in a rhumba/soukous type band many years ago. However, the riffs I would play then were very circular and deliberately repetitive and there was no call for more 'traditional' soloing (as in the video).

And soloing isn't something I've done much when playing other styles, as it's never really been my thing, but I've been listening to some old East African music and this track jumped out and I'd love to improve my phrasing etc.

When playing over a I-IV-V type progression, I'll simply play the corresponding major scale. For example, if its C, F, G, I'll play in Cmajor. I'll also stray in and out of Am and add the odd passing note (and flattened 5th etc.), but I wouldn't know where to start with the things like the mixolidian mode (which I've been told will give me the vibe I'm looking for...?).

I guess I understand that Am is the aeolian mode (Am being the relative minor of C), and so (kind of) know how to apply that (although usually as a minor pentatonic, very occasionally). I also know that the mixolidian mode corresponds with the V chord, but have no idea how to 'apply' it.

And what about major pentatonic? How on earth do people incorporate those?

What I really want to know is if I play over a I-IV-V type progression in C (C, F, G) would I play in and out of C major (ionian), and G mixolidian (with the occasional A minor type stuff)...or would I play the C mixolidian scale???
Old 14th July 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
Many thanks for this. I should have said that I'm very familiar with (in particular) East African styles as I played lead guitar in a rhumba/soukous type band many years ago. However, the riffs I would play then were very circular and deliberately repetitive and there was no call for more 'traditional' soloing (as in the video).

And soloing isn't something I've done much when playing other styles, as it's never really been my thing, but I've been listening to some old East African music and this track jumped out and I'd love to improve my phrasing etc.

When playing over a I-IV-V type progression, I'll simply play the corresponding major scale. For example, if its C, F, G, I'll play in Cmajor. I'll also stray in and out of Am and add the odd passing note (and flattened 5th etc.), but I wouldn't know where to start with the things like the mixolidian mode (which I've been told will give me the vibe I'm looking for...?).

I guess I understand that Am is the aeolian mode (Am being the relative minor of C), and so (kind of) know how to apply that (although usually as a minor pentatonic, very occasionally). I also know that the mixolidian mode corresponds with the V chord, but have no idea how to 'apply' it.

And what about major pentatonic? How on earth do people incorporate those?

What I really want to know is if I play over a I-IV-V type progression in C (C, F, G) would I play in and out of C major (ionian), and G mixolidian (with the occasional A minor type stuff)...or would I play the C mixolidian scale???
You might want to pick up a decent book on harmony and theory and learn all the modes, chords, and most important, how to derive scales from chords.

In a simple I, IV, V progression (C, F, G) there's not a whole lot of room if you're to stay idiomatic - but you can outline the chords as arpeggios, and build passing sequences as two note 6th's and 3rds doing diatonic runs with chromatic passing tones - which is what the guitarist in your clip is doing in the first 30 seconds or so I listened to.

More advanced soloing for this progression would include playing chromatics to connect from chord to chord, and to add "tensions" (though I'd go mostly benign tensions for this, mostly 9ths and natural 13ths (6ths) - so you could add the d in a c major arpeggio, g in a f major, and a in the g major. Sliding a 9th into a 3rd, or 6th down to a 5th is very idiomatic of this style (on piano, some refer to it as the "snoopy style", named after the pianist Vince Guaraldi who scored the old Peanuts cartoons).

Once you learn modes and chord scales, you'd play cool stuff that could get you fired - like arpeggiating a G major triad over the C, a C major triad over the F, and if you wanted to go "out", a Bb minor pentatonic over the G (for a G7 altered sound) :-)

Back to basics, though: you'd most likely play major pentatonics for the root of each chord: C penta, F penta, and G penta.

a minor pentatonic is also c major pentatonic - same notes except one starts on c and one starts on a. G mixolydian would be the scale commonly thought of as belonging to the V chord (G, or G7); if you were to play all the notes from G to G in the key of C major: g,a,b,c,d,e,f,g (jazz players would add an f# between the f and the g to get a chromatic passing tone) you'd arrive at G mixolydian. So see? Mixolydian is simply a major scale with the 7th flatted - it's easiest to see it as the scale that begins on the 5th of the major scale (though it's actually more flexible than that).

I'd stay away from C mixolydian for this progression as the flat 7th (Bb) would pull you into the key of F major - because the V7 to I relationship is so strong to western ears. Remember, C mixo is the V of F, so you'd play from C to C using notes in the F major scale, hence the Bb.

Studying modes would give you all the answers you need, there are only seven diatonic modes, and once you know them, you won't forget them. Hint, if you can play a major scale, you've already won half the battle

It takes a few years to become adept at all this, but for an improvisor, it provides years of fun while pursuing different solutions and strategies for how to play through chord changes - it's what makes players like Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett sound like the geniuses they are.
Old 15th July 2018
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Many thanks sharp11

Is there any book/course you could recommend that will help me understand this?

I'm very familiar with 3rds and 6ths and partial chords etc. (especially the African two finger style popularised by Jean Bosco Mwenda, Franco, Mose Fan Fan etc.). If you go to 18.00 in this clip it's shows Remmy Ongala an Orchestra Super Matimila, who I've loved for years. (I got to know Remmy a little in the 90s and he and the band gave me an absolutely priceless guitar lesson once where they formed a circle - with me in the middle - and the way their guitars ricoched off each other was the closest thing to musical heaven I've ever heard!)

YouTube

I also really like this type of thing, especially the intro...

YouTube

But, on the subject of soloing (in a less Africanesque cyclic style) I really like this type of stuff (solo starts at 3.30)...

YouTube

I'm very intrigued by what you say about creating tensions etc.and using more arpeggios and wondered if there was also any book/resource you could recommend to help me learn how do do that? This is something I've long since been wanting to understand but always end up getting distracted and content with what I already know (such is life!).

I'm also interested in becoming more fluid at building phrases by learning some patterns and 'sequences' - but I just don't know where to start because there's so many options/resources (I originally learned to play before the Internet, which was so much easier in some ways!)

Thanks again for your help, greatly appreciated.
Old 15th July 2018
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Many thanks sharp11

Is there any book/course you could recommend that will help me understand this?

I'm very familiar with 3rds and 6ths and partial chords etc. (especially the African two finger style popularised by Jean Bosco Mwenda, Franco, Mose Fan Fan etc.). If you go to 18.00 in this clip it's shows Remmy Ongala an Orchestra Super Matimila, who I've loved for years. (I got to know Remmy a little in the 90s and he and the band gave me an absolutely priceless guitar lesson once where they formed a circle - with me in the middle - and the way their guitars ricoched off each other was the closest thing to musical heaven I've ever heard!)

YouTube

I also really like this type of thing, especially the intro...

YouTube

But, on the subject of soloing (in a less Africanesque cyclic style) I really like this type of stuff (solo starts at 3.30)...

YouTube

I'm very intrigued by what you say about creating tensions etc.and using more arpeggios and wondered if there was also any book/resource you could recommend to help me learn how do do that? This is something I've long since been wanting to understand but always end up getting distracted and content with what I already know (such is life!).

I'm also interested in becoming more fluid at building phrases by learning some patterns and 'sequences' - but I just don't know where to start because there's so many options/resources (I originally learned to play before the Internet, which was so much easier in some ways!)

Thanks again for your help, greatly appreciated.
Old 15th July 2018
  #8
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
Many thanks sharp11

Is there any book/course you could recommend that will help me understand this?

I'm very familiar with 3rds and 6ths and partial chords etc. (especially the African two finger style popularised by Jean Bosco Mwenda, Franco, Mose Fan Fan etc.). If you go to 18.00 in this clip it's shows Remmy Ongala an Orchestra Super Matimila, who I've loved for years. (I got to know Remmy a little in the 90s and he and the band gave me an absolutely priceless guitar lesson once where they formed a circle - with me in the middle - and the way their guitars ricoched off each other was the closest thing to musical heaven I've ever heard!)

YouTube

I also really like this type of thing, especially the intro...

YouTube

But, on the subject of soloing (in a less Africanesque cyclic style) I really like this type of stuff (solo starts at 3.30)...

YouTube

I'm very intrigued by what you say about creating tensions etc.and using more arpeggios and wondered if there was also any book/resource you could recommend to help me learn how do do that? This is something I've long since been wanting to understand but always end up getting distracted and content with what I already know (such is life!).

I'm also interested in becoming more fluid at building phrases by learning some patterns and 'sequences' - but I just don't know where to start because there's so many options/resources (I originally learned to play before the Internet, which was so much easier in some ways!)

Thanks again for your help, greatly appreciated.
I took a quick listen to the YT clips - one more thing he's doing that's very effective, and very musical is he's targeting notes of the triads - for example, he targets the 3rd of the the I major and devises a slide, or run to get to it - up or down.

He also accentuates the V chord by hitting its third as a target, but only at certain times. The 3rd of any chord defines its basic tonality, so it's an important tone - he uses it very well in these solos.

That's the thing, a great solo is less about the chords and scales used, and more about how it's assembled into a whole - IOW, the structure of the thing. Great soloists are building solos with an awareness of the overall architecture.

Everything you mentioned is in the basic soloing here - 3rds, 6ths, arpeggiated chords, even a blue note (flat 3rd of the major scale) on that "intro" piece you singled out in this second post. For you, it's a matter of practice, practice and more practice, there's no substitute, but that should be fun!

I don't like to recommend books at this level - you're probably better off seeking YT teachers like Rick Beato (stick to his simple theory stuff), and/or YT guys teaching in this particular style - which is really folk music, when you pare it down, so country, bluegrass, even simple rock stuff would get you into this arena.
Old 15th July 2018
  #9
Thanks for taking up the slack, here, Sharp11! As a self-taught guitarist who plays by ear (I can analyze in retrospect but it's a lengthy process), whose melodic lead and filigree playing is driven by intuition and whose harmonic insights are often underlined by crude heurism, I'm no good at explaining this stuff.
Old 15th July 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Thanks for taking up the slack, here, Sharp11! As a self-taught guitarist who plays by ear (I can analyze in retrospect but it's a lengthy process), whose melodic lead and filigree playing is driven by intuition and whose harmonic insights are often underlined by crude heurism, I'm no good at explaining this stuff.
Thanks, when I manage to get off my ass (and out of the studio), I'll have an educational page up and running, can't wait to teach this stuff online. My first video is going to be an in depth musical analysis of a certain Beatles tune
Old 16th July 2018
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks Sharp11, really appreciated.

I will be sure to check out some videos by Rick Beato, and will take it from there. I also found these:

safaritv Productions - Video & Audio Post Production - London

...which look very interesting.

And thank theblue1 .

I've been fumbling around for 35 years having been largely self-taught. In some ways, my hotchpotch approach has helped give me my own voice, but there's still lots of holes I wished I'd have had the opportunity to fill when I was younger. No time like the present though, so 'practice' here I come!
Old 16th July 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
[...]

And thank theblue1 .

I've been fumbling around for 35 years having been largely self-taught. In some ways, my hotchpotch approach has helped give me my own voice, but there's still lots of holes I wished I'd have had the opportunity to fill when I was younger. No time like the present though, so 'practice' here I come!
I was happy to help keep the thread up where Sharp11 could see it!


Sounds like we're in similar places, though I'm probably a fair amount older -- I didn't start playing music until I was in college; I've been playing a bit more than 4 and a half decades. But someone else could have got where I am in maybe half a decade, I fear. Like you, sounds like, I've been trying to backfill my skills -- especially working on my acoustic/fingerpicking. (But feeling the urge to fire up the Strat for some new recording.)

I've been a fan of African pop/rock since the 80s (saw Sunny Ade and Fela and some others back then). These days I'm listening to a lot of West African blues -- but also listening to some of the modern Afro pop divas, Nneka, Fatoumata Diawara, Rokia Traore.
Old 16th July 2018
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I was happy to help keep the thread up where Sharp11 could see it!


Sounds like we're in similar places, though I'm probably a fair amount older -- I didn't start playing music until I was in college; I've been playing a bit more than 4 and a half decades. But someone else could have got where I am in maybe half a decade, I fear. Like you, sounds like, I've been trying to backfill my skills -- especially working on my acoustic/fingerpicking. (But feeling the urge to fire up the Strat for some new recording.)

I've been a fan of African pop/rock since the 80s (saw Sunny Ade and Fela and some others back then). These days I'm listening to a lot of West African blues -- but also listening to some of the modern Afro pop divas, Nneka, Fatoumata Diawara, Rokia Traore.
I didn't start playing until I was 17, even though I'd first asked for a guitar aged 10 (apparently, because there were no musicians in our family, there was no good reason for me to become one!). So I had a 'troubled' start as I was actively discouraged and guilt-tripped etc., which was weird, but also made me more determimed. I've been playing 34 years now, did ok in my 20s/30s ut then family/work took over and it's been more of a hobby the past 20 yrs.

I got into the African stuff after hearing 'Nothing But Flowers' by Talking Heads (featuring Johnny Marr no less). I just got really engrossed in it after that, especially the really repetitive East African and Zimbabwean stuff (not a big fan of the 'polished' French scene), but was always one for dipping in and out of things (as some of us naturally are), so I'm a bit of a jack of all, master of none (kind of).

I got back into that again lately after discovering a Truefire course on West African guitar (although not all the styles are West African at all!), which is basic, but authentic/well put together and I've really been enjoying it.

Will keep chipping away at the solo stuff though but am also extremely keen on acoustic fingerstyle (including Jean Bosco Mwendas 'Masanga', played in the African two-finger style - but plenty of other stuff, including Bert Jansch etc.)

Like you say, so many guitars, so little time!
Old 18th July 2018
  #14
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Listen man what I'm about to say might get me flamed but it's the truth. Don't overthink it with theory and books, videos and this and that. It's not about thinking and theories and all of that stuff. Stop thinking. Just play. If you have a hard time with that then apply liberal doses of alcohol until your mind is numbed sufficiently. Learn the solo by ear and then play around with it, have fun. That's what it's about.
Old 18th July 2018
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Listen man what I'm about to say might get me flamed but it's the truth. Don't overthink it with theory and books, videos and this and that. It's not about thinking and theories and all of that stuff. Stop thinking. Just play. If you have a hard time with that then apply liberal doses of alcohol until your mind is numbed sufficiently. Learn the solo by ear and then play around with it, have fun. That's what it's about.
Hi Jimmy, and thanks for your input. I do agree that feel and intuitive play are important, but they can only take you so far.

I had an email exchange with a colleague last week and it's worth copying and pasting a relevant section here (it's worth noting that this was not a music related conversation):

"I've noticed (and it's extremely well documented elsewhere) that increasing numbers of people are losing their capacity to 'think' (honestly, I'm not being sarcastic etc., this is a genuine concern for many). This is because certain types, especially in ‘educational’ and ‘self-help’ institutions, which are obviously hugely influencial, have been pushing the idea for many years that we need to 'feel' more and 'think' less, which is, when taken to extremes, a dangerously unbalanced ‘philosophy’ at best.

As stated, educational institutions are replete with advocates of such thinking (or lack of!), which is extremely worrying as there are increasing numbers of people unwilling and unable to negotiate/debate, or even enter into two-way discussions, for fear of hurting somebody's 'feelings' (or being 'offended' themselves).

Unfortunately, these people are also so fixed in their view (because they are literally so irrational and un-reason-able), that they have no problem whatsoever imposing them (rather than negotiating) and the moment somebody disagrees with them, their 'feelings' propel them straight into victim mode (see comments on negotiator/slave/tyrant archetypes in previous meeting notes).

This is also largely due to the fact that 'kindness' has been placed on par with 'truth' as a value and, however virtuous kindness is, when the fear of 'offending' people becomes equally (if not more, which has become the case for many) valued that truth, then we are on a very precarious trajectory indeed (for reasons I'm more than happy to discuss in detail.)

One of the reasons this is so dangerous is because the ability to 'think' is vital if we are to function effectively. And obviously, the same can be said of feeling, as the two were meant to be, and are, balanced in a truly healthy individual.

Unfortunately, many (men in particular, which is one of the causes of the current epidemic amongst men) are being pathologised (literally!) by so called 'experts' who have either perpetuated and/or bought into the nonsense of demonising/pathologising 'thinking'. As such, people who have not lost their innate ability (and right) to think critically, are being increasingly told that they 'over-think' etc.

As such, I have a legitimate concern that my emails (and all subsequent notes), rather than being viewed as rational, well 'thought' out and perfectly legitimate catalysts for negotiation, may well be seen as 'over-thinking', and somehow invalid (and subsequently worthy of nothing more than invalidation)."

Obviously, that may be a little 'heavy' in the current context (however appropriate in the original), and, as stated, it's not that I negate the importance of feel and intuitive playing (at all!). Just that people are extremely well advised to hold onto (or develop) their thinking capacity.

Food for thought?
Old 18th July 2018
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
Hi Jimmy, and thanks for your input. I do agree that feel and intuitive play are important, but they can only take you so far.

I had an email exchange with a colleague last week....... ad infinitum .......
Uh... thx but with all due respect I believe you kinda proved my point with that dissertation? Ain’t gonna drop any panties with that attitude bro LOL.
Old 19th July 2018
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Uh... thx but with all due respect I believe you kinda proved my point with that dissertation? Ain’t gonna drop any panties with that attitude bro LOL.
Honesly, there was no 'attitude' intended, although you did kind of help prove my point too. I was simply trying to illustrate that there's a healthy middle-ground and thought you might give that at least a little thought.

I also stated clearly that it was a little 'heavy' in this context, but sometimes a little substance is needed in order to back things up (as in all things).

I do get your original point, but only to a point...

...makes you think?

Re panties...you'd be surprised...

Last edited by MartieFuncum; 19th July 2018 at 09:18 AM.. Reason: I forgot to mention panties...
Old 19th July 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Listen man what I'm about to say might get me flamed but it's the truth. Don't overthink it with theory and books, videos and this and that. It's not about thinking and theories and all of that stuff. Stop thinking. Just play. If you have a hard time with that then apply liberal doses of alcohol until your mind is numbed sufficiently. Learn the solo by ear and then play around with it, have fun. That's what it's about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Uh... thx but with all due respect I believe you kinda proved my point with that dissertation? Ain’t gonna drop any panties with that attitude bro LOL.
Speaking of attitude, huh?


As an intuition-driven, self-taught guitarist whose formative years as both a musician and engineer were, in large part, devoted to punk/outsider/new music in the late 70s and early 80s, as someone who drank daily and enthusiastically for the first two decades of his adult life (and change), I do have a bunch of thoughts on all that above.

But -- I'm going to try to stick to the core topic (for a change)...

While I'm a firm believer in keeping one's emotional connection to the music (whatever kind of music it is) as a prime driver of one's playing and approach -- having fumbled my way through my early years all on my own, with seemingly every attempt at formal music education leaving me not just cold but typically baffled, I felt like I was trying to box with invisible ghosts.

When I finally admitted (after a year or two of playing) to a friend of mine (who had led the hippest acid rock band at my high school in the 60s) that I had no idea what the relationship between chords and melodies was and that I'd simply been poking and hoping my lead work through trial and error, he sat me down for a half hour or 45 minute explainer on the very, very basics of harmonic theory.

*Essentially, he showed to 'harmonize the diatonic scale' -- creating ascending triad chords from the 'white notes' on his mom's piano -- as easy as plunking down three spread out fingers and moving them up a key at a time -- and THAT half hour literally changed my musical life going forward, giving me a foundational framework I could then hang my own expanding knowledge on and fill in as that knowledge grew.)

By similar token, moving forward on guitar, I increasingly saw that while I felt (and still feel) I would always be an intuitive player, that informing myself and improving my intellectual rigor with regard to formalizing my understanding of what I was doing was giving me tools I needed to make much faster progress.

(This was not much at all through study of outside materials so much as analyzing my own playing for what was working and understanding the why -- at least to some small degree -- as well as the how.)


Now (so much for reserved intentions) ... about alcohol... it's my policy not to impose my views on others. And, to be sure, many folks are able to have a a drink or two and walk away.

Me, on the other hand, I was an enthusiast. For my folks' generation and my generation, alcohol was socially dominant. It flowed through every social evening.

And I SWAM in it enthusiastically for over twenty years. But after a while I started totalling up the score... I looked at my face, saw my looks starting to go, the red filigree across the cheeks... the uncomfortable parallels between me and my careening, immature, gun-toting (and waving), binge-drinking boss... and I took a look at my lifestyle that had gone from out-five-nights-a-week-carousing to sitting on the couch drinking myself to sleep -- because I'd had 7 roadside sobriety checks (which I somehow passed -- but that was back before they got serious about getting drunks off the road) and the legal limit was now less than half what it had been when I started drinking. I never had an accident (except for losing my grip on my motorcycle as I pulled it up on the center stand and having the handlebar dent my neighbor's car door) and I never got arrested -- but I could tell that the latter was probably unsustainable. And I'd had enough accidents while sober to understand that I'd just been phenomenally lucky to not have any drunk. Anyhow, that's me. Not anyone else. I'm not preaching. But if you ever need to talk about drinking, drop me a PM.
Old 19th July 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Listen man what I'm about to say might get me flamed but it's the truth. Don't overthink it with theory and books, videos and this and that. It's not about thinking and theories and all of that stuff. Stop thinking. Just play. If you have a hard time with that then apply liberal doses of alcohol until your mind is numbed sufficiently. Learn the solo by ear and then play around with it, have fun. That's what it's about.
I have to disagree. Although "just playing" is a very important learning tool, and its very hard to get to anywhere decent without developing your own style by doing so, There are also a huge number of very useful musical things that a player is very unlikely to stumble onto by accident, but theory and instruction will teach you.

I definitively meet far more young players who are frustrated by an inability to progress beyond a certain level by "just playing" than I do players who feel that learning some theory has harmed them as artists.

If I have to solo over something, my first question is "what key?" I'm not limiting my self by doing that - nothing says I can only use notes that fit the key.

If the key is 'C' My next though is that, to start with, I can use a C major scale, several different pentatonics, an Am scale, a C Mixolydian and a Cm pentatonic for color

Also the whole or parts of the following chords will be in key:

C, Csus4, C6, CMAJ 7 DM Dm7 Em, Em7 and so up though the rest of the scale chords and extensions that fit in the key. And that just chords that are in key. I can throw in a few that aren't for color.

Now. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT SOMEONE PLAYING BY "EAR OR "FEEL" WILL NOT NECESSARILY COME UP WITH THE SAME SOLO. These are merely different ways to the same result. One works better for some people, one is better for others.

I personally found the my musical horizons got much broader, and my playing got better after I took some theory lessons from a jazz guitarist. Others may respond to a different approach.
Old 19th July 2018
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Speaking of attitude, huh?


As an intuition-driven, self-taught guitarist whose formative years as both a musician and engineer were, in large part, devoted to punk/outsider/new music in the late 70s and early 80s, as someone who drank daily and enthusiastically for the first two decades of his adult life (and change), I do have a bunch of thoughts on all that above.

But -- I'm going to try to stick to the core topic (for a change)...

While I'm a firm believer in keeping one's emotional connection to the music (whatever kind of music it is) as a prime driver of one's playing and approach -- having fumbled my way through my early years all on my own, with seemingly every attempt at formal music education leaving me not just cold but typically baffled, I felt like I was trying to box with invisible ghosts.

When I finally admitted (after a year or two of playing) to a friend of mine (who had led the hippest acid rock band at my high school in the 60s) that I had no idea what the relationship between chords and melodies was and that I'd simply been poking and hoping my lead work through trial and error, he sat me down for a half hour or 45 minute explainer on the very, very basics of harmonic theory.

*Essentially, he showed to 'harmonize the diatonic scale' -- creating ascending triad chords from the 'white notes' on his mom's piano -- as easy as plunking down three spread out fingers and moving them up a key at a time -- and THAT half hour literally changed my musical life going forward, giving me a foundational framework I could then hang my own expanding knowledge on and fill in as that knowledge grew.)

By similar token, moving forward on guitar, I increasingly saw that while I felt (and still feel) I would always be an intuitive player, that informing myself and improving my intellectual rigor with regard to formalizing my understanding of what I was doing was giving me tools I needed to make much faster progress.

(This was not much at all through study of outside materials so much as analyzing my own playing for what was working and understanding the why -- at least to some small degree -- as well as the how.)


Now (so much for reserved intentions) ... about alcohol... it's my policy not to impose my views on others. And, to be sure, many folks are able to have a a drink or two and walk away.

Me, on the other hand, I was an enthusiast. For my folks' generation and my generation, alcohol was socially dominant. It flowed through every social evening.

And I SWAM in it enthusiastically for over twenty years. But after a while I started totalling up the score... I looked at my face, saw my looks starting to go, the red filigree across the cheeks... the uncomfortable parallels between me and my careening, immature, gun-toting (and waving), binge-drinking boss... and I took a look at my lifestyle that had gone from out-five-nights-a-week-carousing to sitting on the couch drinking myself to sleep -- because I'd had 7 roadside sobriety checks (which I somehow passed -- but that was back before they got serious about getting drunks off the road) and the legal limit was now less than half what it had been when I started drinking. I never had an accident (except for losing my grip on my motorcycle as I pulled it up on the center stand and having the handlebar dent my neighbor's car door) and I never got arrested -- but I could tell that the latter was probably unsustainable. And I'd had enough accidents while sober to understand that I'd just been phenomenally lucky to not have any drunk. Anyhow, that's me. Not anyone else. I'm not preaching. But if you ever need to talk about drinking, drop me a PM.
My experiences are extremely similar to yours: more or less self taught and knew very little theory in the beginning (and which is still full of holes now, hence the OP!) - but always told I had a great feel etc. - and was always fuelled by drink (at the very least!!).

I was also into the whole DIY new wave scene so, if anything, was anti-theory (again, also fuelled by a really negative attitude towards music in general by my family/peers).

But then somebody also showed me not only how to use a major scale, but how to harmonise it - and I was blown away!

I remember playing a song on stage (that was very similar to the previously mentioned Nothing But Flowers by Talking Heads) and I was able to throw in all kinds of partial chord run downs etc. all based on my new found knowledge. And I can remember an old mate (who also played) coming up to me after the gig asking me where on Earth all those neat little 'tricks' were coming from! (We were about 20 at the time,and I'd only been playing approx three years so everything was an extra exciting discovery at the time - including drugs and alcohol)...

Unfortunately, the drugs and alcohol became a major theme, especially as I was in a travelling /gigging band, which was all very exciting at that age (it would literally kill me now!). And much as I continued to play, practice, learn, enjoy etc. if I could have that time again I'd put much more emphasis on that and far less on the hedonistic side of things (fun as it was, to a point!).

I ended up learning a martial art to be honest, when I was 30 (Aikido), and it didn't happen overnight, but the things I learned about balance etc. pretty much saved my life (there was a heavy, in-tact, emphasis on the underlying philosophy). And honestly, learning Aikido really helped me to understand how to balance feel with technique, how to think without over-thinking, and how to feel without becoming shallow - basically, that balance is n all things is all-important and that all dis-ease is rooted in a lack of such.

As such, I eventually quit the drink etc. and these days have the occasional very mild (drinking) 'session' once or twice a year.

I still like to learn new stuff all the time, and I understand the old adage of 'learn that ****, then forget that ****', but just as we sit here typing away, using carefully learned language and motor skills, expressing how we feel, we can, and do, exactly the same on our instruments. And how easy is it to forget that we were once taught how to read and write (which is quite a feat, as anyone learning a new language will testify!)?
But most of us do 'forget that ****', but I actually read the occasional book or article about grammar etc., which is probably why I have little difficulty expressing myself via the medium we are currently engaging in (even using a phone!)
Old 19th July 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
M

Unfortunately, the drugs and alcohol became a major theme, especially as I was in a travelling /gigging band, which was all very exciting at that age (it would literally kill me now!). And much as I continued to play, practice, learn, enjoy etc. if I could have that time again I'd put much more emphasis on that and far less on the hedonistic side of things (fun as it was, to a point!).
I think most people that have played with any regularity went through that phase somewhere. For me it was the Punk Rock days with two cases of beer in the dressing room at every show. There's usually a point where something says "enough" and you cut way down.

For me, it was a show I did at the Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, opening for Fear. I knew I was totally snockered, but didn't want to park a van full of equipment downtown. With the usual optimism of drunks, I felt I could make it home. I drove the 3 miles home with the upmost care, checking every stop sign, every other vehicle, being careful not to touch a white line or make a wide turn. I made it home.

The next morning, when I went out to the van, there were two open cans of beer in the cupholders that I hadn't even noticed. If I couldn't see two cans of beer in the front of the van, what must my driving have been like?

Now I'm pretty much a two drink guy.
Old 19th July 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
I think most people that have played with any regularity went through that phase somewhere. For me it was the Punk Rock days with two cases of beer in the dressing room at every show. There's usually a point where something says "enough" and you cut way down.

For me, it was a show I did at the Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, opening for Fear. I knew I was totally snockered, but didn't want to park a van full of equipment downtown. With the usual optimism of drunks, I felt I could make it home. I drove the 3 miles home with the upmost care, checking every stop sign, every other vehicle, being careful not to touch a white line or make a wide turn. I made it home.

The next morning, when I went out to the van, there were two open cans of beer in the cupholders that I hadn't even noticed. If I couldn't see two cans of beer in the front of the van, what must my driving have been like?

Now I'm pretty much a two drink guy.
Fortunately, I didn't learn to drive until after I stopped drinking, which was definitely a blessing knowing what I was like back then. We pretty much all think we are so much better at everything once we've got the beer goggles (and ears!) on and I can't think of anything worse now than drinking for drinking sake, which is pretty much what all regular drinkers do (and I know I did!) .
Old 20th July 2018
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
[...] but that was back before they got serious about getting drunks off the road [...]
I regret having written that, because it really sounds like I was evading the moral responsibility for my truly sordid and selfish chronic crime of what can only be called drunk driving. My good fortune in escaping accident or arrest can never excuse the moral lapse. And blaming it on culture and custom may help explain it -- but similarly cannot excuse it. Mega mea culpa. For real.
Old 20th July 2018
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Now we've established some balance (and sobriety!), I just wanted to clarify the following:

The problem with this type of music is that the chord changes happen really quickly. So, even though there's a I-IV-V chord progression of, say, C, F and G, over two bars of 4/4 (8 beats in total) it could be C(2 beats), F(2 beats), C(2 beats), G (2 beats). This differs considerably from a progression that might go C(4 beats), F(4 beats), C(4 beats), G(4 beats), which would not only have to be spread over 4 bars, but would give sufficient time to use different scales for each chord (because in context, 4 beats is significantly longer than 2).

So I'm wondering, for the first of the above examples, where there's not really much time to be making such decisions (for me at least), is there a general concensus as to what scales would best to create solos that kind of surf on the waves of those cyclic 2 beats per chord progressions?

My current understanding is that (in theory) I could use: C major; C pentatonic; A minor; A minor; A minor pentatonic; G mixolidian (and possibly C mixolidian?).

And I really don't want to be over-thinking (and over-playing!) this, but I do want to spend some more time understanding the nuts and bolts etc.
Old 20th July 2018
  #25
[I'm using the recording's key of G for my examples here.]

Probably just my ham-fisted ex-punk rocker mentality but I found that I could do soloing and embellishment in G diatonic and then modulate up to to a blue scale in G and more or less play along with the solo. Agreed it's a I-IV-I-V progression, of course. I'm just not sure one has to stray far from normal sonorities to get on more or less the right vibe.

But I may well be over-simplifying it.
Old 20th July 2018
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
[I'm using the recording's key of G for my examples here.]

Probably just my ham-fisted ex-punk rocker mentality but I found that I could do soloing and embellishment in G diatonic and then modulate up to to a blue scale in G and more or less play along with the solo. Agreed it's a I-IV-I-V progression, of course. I'm just not sure one has to stray far from normal sonorities to get on more or less the right vibe.

But I may well be over-simplifying it.
I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I only just played along to it myself for the first time (been away from the guitar all week!). And I don't think you're over-simplifying it as I guess (as theses things go) it's fairly straightforward.

I also played in G major and G pentatonic (with that blue note that's on strings 3+5!), and I guess when you do that you're automatically going to slip in and out of D mixolidian etc.(because G major contains the notes).

What I would never have done before though is play G mixolidian (with that flat 7th), which I found really interesting when used sparingly.

Obviously, there's also lots of thirds played on strings 1+2, which are pretty much a hallmark of this type of stuff (alongside 6ths), and I just love the janglyness of those.

So, I guess scale/interval wise, it's all fairly straight-forward. It's just knowing how to phrase musically fluently etc. (to state the obvious!), which I can definitely do to a point, but that's something I need to work on some more.
Old 21st July 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post

My current understanding is that (in theory) I could use: C major; C pentatonic; A minor; A minor; A minor pentatonic; G mixolidian (and possibly C mixolidian?).
Just for the sake of accuracy, using your examples in the key of c major:

It's "mixolydian", with a y

Also, c major pentatonic is the same thing as a minor pentatonic (same notes), just as a C6 chord has the same spelling as A minor 7th, thanks to relative minor.

C mixolydian provides you with the flat 7th; in this context, it's a "blue note", which is cool. It's a note (the Bb) not diatonic to C major.

Ultimately, it's all drawn from C ionian - the major scale, but how you think about it and frame your ideas will provide much more variety than simply running up and down and "feeling it" (as one poster suggested) with the major scale.

The speed of the changes matters to a degree, but good players set up a surprising amount of interesting stuff over three chord vamps at any tempo.
Old 21st July 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyhots View Post
Listen man what I'm about to say might get me flamed but it's the truth. Don't overthink it with theory and books, videos and this and that. It's not about thinking and theories and all of that stuff. Stop thinking. Just play. If you have a hard time with that then apply liberal doses of alcohol until your mind is numbed sufficiently. Learn the solo by ear and then play around with it, have fun. That's what it's about.
The more information you have (and internalize), the more you have to "play around" with at your fingertips. There's nothing more boring (and screams "lazy") than listening to a soloist with a limited musical vocabulary.
Old 21st July 2018
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
Just for the sake of accuracy, using your examples in the key of c major:

It's "mixolydian", with a y

Also, c major pentatonic is the same thing as a minor pentatonic (same notes), just as a C6 chord has the same spelling as A minor 7th, thanks to relative minor.

C mixolydian provides you with the flat 7th; in this context, it's a "blue note", which is cool. It's a note (the Bb) not diatonic to C major.

Ultimately, it's all drawn from C ionian - the major scale, but how you think about it and frame your ideas will provide much more variety than simply running up and down and "feeling it" (as one poster suggested) with the major scale.

The speed of the changes matters to a degree, but good players set up a surprising amount of interesting stuff over three chord vamps at any tempo.
Thanks again Sharp11.

I'm beginning to understand that I probably understood more than I was giving myself credit for, but it's always good to realise that, whilst also learning new stuff, which I've certainly done here.

I guess the main thing I want to work on is phrasing, which is obviously extremely important. And I've never been a fast player, partly because I come from an anti-solo era (I live in England and learned to play in the post-punk era and my peers and I were the absolute antithises of Van Halen etc.), and partly because I lacked the disciple to learn beyond what I needed at the time.

And I know some people might say you don't need to learn what you don't need, but I think it's always good to be gently stretching your comfort zone etc. It's also good to have stuff 'in reserve', and I really don't like players who put everything they've got into everything they do because it often displays a distinct lack of taste.

Just for illustration, the song below contains what I consider to be one of the best solos ever. I like this so much because it's just so tasteful and Nels Cline makes every single note count. His phrasing/ note choice is immaculate and when he puts something fast in there he does it to truly great effect. There's also a little discord in there, which is something I'd love to be able to create,as the whole tension and release thing fascinates me...

YouTube

Obviously, the best way to internalise this stuff is to learn to play it (I can play all the guitar parts in the above) and to break it down - to actually learn the language. And I guess when people learn any language they learn it to get by and/or to express themselves. And obviously, those who learn it simply to get by, rarely say anything of value.

So phrasing is my priority, and even though I'm never going to have the talent and ability of Nels Cline, I'm willing to learn what I can to at least move me a little towards being able to express myself in the way such musicians can.
Old 21st July 2018
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
The more information you have (and internalize), the more you have to "play around" with at your fingertips. There's nothing more boring (and screams "lazy") than listening to a soloist with a limited musical vocabulary.
I have an acquaintance who has been playing for years and is desperate to be a better player. Unfortunately, he's also the laziest guy I've ever met, so he's constantly looking for shortcuts. Whenever I see him, I'm always reminded of that scene in The Matrix, where Neo has 'martial artist' or 'helicopter pilot' programmed into his brain, like adding software to a computer. And yes, there's always been lazy people, but I think computer games have added considerably to the above because there's so much instant gratification to be had, which is something I see in the guy I mentioned, who's spent a truly disproportionate amount of time playing such games.

And honestly, he hangs around musicians constantly in the hope that some of their knowledge will some how 'brush off' on him, literally like it's one of those games, and all he really has to do is 'play' and he'll eventually get better. But he never does, so he fuels himself with alcohol and cocaine in the hope they will help him to play and feel better. But all they ever do is afford him temporary 'shelter' from the reality he so desperately clamours from: that he's shallow and lazy and the incredible amount of frustration he feels (because he's like this in all areas of his life!) is a direct consequence of his total unwillingness to address this fundamental truth.

But it's always temporary, and he continues to refuse to learn anything of any real substance at all because he's absolutely convinced that only 'gay' (his words!) people engage in such 'nerdy' and 'pleby' activities and the last time I spoke with him he told me to 'watch this space'. But that's all it is, an empty space and there's absolutely nothing to watch (or hear!), so he just gets left to it.

And my god, he totally 'looks' the part and gets plenty of girls, but he's utterly insatiable and just like people who live off junk food and never feel satisfied (whilst also getting increasingly unhealthy), there no quality in his life whatsoever and it's sad beyond words to watch people like him (and I appreciate this guy is probably an extreme example!) destroy themselves whilst also, in their complete lack of ability to be creative in any area of their lives, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, which this guy certainly does...
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