PDA

View Full Version : How to Solo?????



mendel
03-07-2011, 05:51 AM
OK...I've got a pretty good group of people that I rock out with in a regular basis. I am really interested in learning how to solo over someone else playing the rhythm on a guitar or something. I have fretboard roadmaps, but perhaps I am not yet good enough for that section of the book to make sense. Does anyone have any advice for me regarding how I can learn this? I don't say I want to get better because I can't do it at all right now. I am starting from scratch. I would love to be able to just shred kind of how Ben Harper does when he plays "Flake" with Jack Johnson.... I know it'll take years, but- Heck- What else is really going on in my life???? lol.....

Ingrate
03-07-2011, 06:00 AM
I'm working on that, too. Having played less than a year, I can't do it yet, either. However, I've picked up one clue that I'm starting with. If I learn the major scales, I know which notes will sound right with each chord. I bought the ebook about playing blues 'ukulele, and it gives some good insight into this.

So:
1. Learn the major scales. This teaches which individual notes sound OK with each chord.
2. Find these notes on the fretboard.
3. Practice

Sounds easy, right? Not to me. However, I can see a way to make progress...

Next, the minor scales, pentatonic scales, et. al. It all seems daunting, but it seems exciting, too. I don't want to learn everything too soon. What would I do then? :rolleyes:

fitncrafty
03-07-2011, 06:10 AM
I really want to be able to do this too, the eleuke makes me want to do it more. I just ordered this book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/078667718X) I am hopeful it will help, I will let you know. I am starting from scratch too.

I see you named your eleuke. How do you like it so far? If you have posted I missed it!

Pine Apple Slim
03-07-2011, 06:56 AM
I use the time honored "sing the melody then hunt and peck till you find it method"
Hint, start on a note contained in the beginning chord and go up or down from there.

mendel
03-07-2011, 07:05 AM
I really want to be able to do this too, the eleuke makes me want to do it more. I just ordered this book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/078667718X) I am hopeful it will help, I will let you know. I am starting from scratch too.

I see you named your eleuke. How do you like it so far? If you have posted I missed it!

I LOVE my Eleuke. This instrument is unbelievable. The possibilities are limitless. I feel like this type of instrument will allow more people to evolve to higher levels of playing. Think about what the electric guitar did for music....I absolutely love it. Money well spent.

janeray1940
03-07-2011, 07:13 AM
There are a couple chapters in Roadmaps that address this - I don't have my copy with me right now but I think they have to do with "boxes," e.g. Blues Box? But Ingrate has it - it's all about learning the scales.

I haven't seen it yet myself but I've heard good things about the new 101 Ukulele Licks (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1423482646/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER) book, which sounds like it would be useful in learning how to string notes together.

pat rock
03-07-2011, 07:28 AM
http://www.ukulele.nl/
The best way I suggest to start is by fingering the chord, and instead of strumming along with everyone, you pick out notes within the chord to create a lead. For variation, try playing chords in different positions (higher up on the fretboard) and picking out higher notes. (Bruddah Iz did this really well.)The above link has all the different chord positions, just keep clicking on the chord to see where to put your fingers.

pat rock
03-07-2011, 07:34 AM
This way you get started right away without having to learn all the different scales. (Although that is the next step). I would also recommend learning the 3rd and 6ths on the ukulele, as they work really well and are a familiar sound. I know the Daniel Ho and Herb Ohta, Jr. books (Discovering the 'Ukulele and Exploring the 'Ukulele) have really good lists in every key, along with Hawaiian turnarounds. There are also free MP 3s on their websites with all the scales and exercises. I hope this helps!

http://www.herbohtajr.com/
http://www.danielho.com/DHC/Home.html

SweetWaterBlue
03-07-2011, 08:41 AM
If you have a way to record youself, you can lay down you own backing tracks to play along to. Just play the chords on the tracks and jam away with either the scales, as already mentioned, or even play the melody. It works great for times when you can assemble a group to practice with.

OldePhart
03-07-2011, 01:12 PM
(Caveat - I don't solo on uke, yet, this comes from experience on guitar, but the principles are the same.)

1) As someone else has mentioned, learn your scales.
2) Generally, for rock and blues, you can improvise almost anything in the minor pentatonic scale of the sixth degree of the scale that the song is written in, and it will sound like you kind of know what you're doing. (I.e. for a song in the key of G the sixth is E so you solo using the E minor pentatonic scale.)
3) If you don't get out of the pentatonic mentioned in 2 above, at least occasionally, your solo will be kind of blah. You need to get at least into the blues scale of the sixth to get really interesting, and when you can solo using the full chromatic scale people will sit up and take notice.
4) Pay attention to both the melodic and rhythmic parts of the song in your soloing. A lot of otherwise good solos are drakh because the soloist ignored the "feel" being generated by the rhythm and harmony.
5) Sometimes one note, held soulfully and perhaps bent, is worth ten-thousand notes from a speed demon (of course, for this you need amplification and a bit of feedback to keep the note sustaining, acoustic ukes don't sustain long enough to matter).

John

Pine Apple Slim
03-07-2011, 01:38 PM
<<<<<even play the melody.>>>>>

This. Sing the melody and find it on the uke, note by note.
Sure, a knowledge of the fretboard and some scales are a big help, but scales arn't music by themselves.
Learn and memorize the melody and take from there in your improv, make it your own.

Ingrate
03-07-2011, 01:51 PM
(Caveat - I don't solo on uke, yet, this comes from experience on guitar, but the principles are the same.)

1) As someone else has mentioned, learn your scales.
2) Generally, for rock and blues, you can improvise almost anything in the minor pentatonic scale of the sixth degree of the scale that the song is written in, and it will sound like you kind of know what you're doing. (I.e. for a song in the key of G the sixth is E so you solo using the E minor pentatonic scale.)
3) If you don't get out of the pentatonic mentioned in 2 above, at least occasionally, your solo will be kind of blah. You need to get at least into the blues scale of the sixth to get really interesting, and when you can solo using the full chromatic scale people will sit up and take notice.
4) Pay attention to both the melodic and rhythmic parts of the song in your soloing. A lot of otherwise good solos are drakh because the soloist ignored the "feel" being generated by the rhythm and harmony.
5) Sometimes one note, held soulfully and perhaps bent, is worth ten-thousand notes from a speed demon (of course, for this you need amplification and a bit of feedback to keep the note sustaining, acoustic ukes don't sustain long enough to matter).

John

Thanks, OldePhart! ;)

Your response was very enlightening for me. I've just gotten a handle on the scales (esp. minor pentatonic) and your input popped up the proverbial lightbulb. Much obliged!

Inn Sea
03-07-2011, 01:57 PM
Just another person's opinion - but I would learn movable scales, meaning no open strings.

Here are two movable G major scales:

------------------2-3-5-3-2-----
-3-2-------2-3-5------------5-3-
-----4-2-4----------------------
--------------------------------

------------7-9-10-9-7------------
-----7-8-10------------10-8-7-----
-7-9--------------------------9-7-
----------------------------------

These can be moved up or down until you run out of frets. This is one advantage of movable scales - you can use the same shapes for G, Ab, F#, etc. Some are easier to reach in certain keys than others, but that's why it can be helpful to learn multiple shapes. The two above are just a starting point. If someone plays a well-behaved progression in G, you can play around in these scales and blend with most of the chords most of the time.

I would also add that your right hand technique is worth developing. If you play these scales by plucking every note downwards with your thumb, it may be more difficult later to play the ideas in your head. I'm not above using a flatpick, but I also have some alternating finger techniques - such as thumb-middle-thumb-middle, or thumb-index-thumb-index.

Once you know some scales and have some sort of right-hand technique for playing them - experiment with varying rhythm, jumping around in the scale, repeating notes for effect, inserting deliberate silences, forming phrases that stretch over barlines, changing dynamics, etc. As you gain more experience, it will feel like singing through your fingers instead of a complex intellectual task.

mendel
03-07-2011, 03:35 PM
This is all great input!!!

Ambrosius
03-08-2011, 01:12 AM
... you can improvise almost anything in the minor pentatonic scale of the sixth degree of the scale that the song is written in, and it will sound like you kind of know what you're doing. (I.e. for a song in the key of G the sixth is E so you solo using the E minor pentatonic scale.) ...

Thks from one old phart to another. Didn't know that. I guess the big difference from now to when I played guitar back in the 60's, is the amount of useful information available on the net. By the way, why the sixth and minor? Is that a blues thing?

Ukulele JJ
03-08-2011, 02:50 AM
Sing the melody and find it on the uke, note by note.
Sure, a knowledge of the fretboard and some scales are a big help, but scales arn't music by themselves.

Bingo.

There are two parts to being able to improvise a solo: First, create. Your musical mind has to come up with something to play. Second, translate. You have to be able to then make your instrument play that something. Link your ears to your fingers. These are two related, but separate, skills. You should develop both as much as you can.

Picking out the melody mostly trains you in the "translating" part, but does feed in some creative ideas along the way. And don't limit yourself to melodies. Pick out solos, background riffs, etc.

Learning scales and knowing what goes with what helps the translating part too--you're mostly learning a set of heuristics that help you narrow the number of notes that the thing in your head could possibly be.

Learning licks and patterns helps feed both the "creative" and "translative" parts. Your ear is learning little modular snippets that you can swap around and modify in your head, and of course you're also learning how to play them.

Just listening to solos helps the creative part. Check out music from soloists you like (and even some you don't like--you can learn a lot from bad musicians!). Listen to guitarists. Pianists. Sax players. Anyone! Really concentrate and listen to what they're doing--don't just have it on in the background while you sort your laundry. Five minutes of attentive listening is worth ten minutes of practicing scales. (Maybe more!)

Try scatting a solo. You already have a well-developed "translate" mechanism running between your mind and your mouth. So soloing by singing is almost 100% exercising the "create" muscle. I don't care how many scales you know--if you can't sing a solo, you will probably won't be able to play a solo on the uke.

Finally, there's a lot to be said for just jumping in and jamming. Not only does this exercise both the "create" and "translate" sides of thing, but it helps you just get used to doing it in front of people. It peels away the judging and self-consciousness that can throw a wet blanket on the whole operation. It's one thing to be able to play a great solo in your bedroom when no one is listening. But to be able to be free and open and confident enough to do the same thing in front of others is something most people have to practice.

JJ

OldePhart
03-08-2011, 11:31 AM
Thks from one old phart to another. Didn't know that. I guess the big difference from now to when I played guitar back in the 60's, is the amount of useful information available on the net. By the way, why the sixth and minor? Is that a blues thing?

The minor scale of the sixth uses the same notes as the major scale (i.e. the 6th is the relative minor). So, you're using the same notes but, because your solo "centers" around the E it creates tension and makes the solo more interesting than if you solo using the major pentatonic of the root of the song key.

To clarify - the major pentatonic scale comprises notes that sound good when played with any of the primary and secondary chords in the key. I.e. any note from the pentatonic can be played with any of the in-key chords without dropping the dishes on the floor. By centering these notes around the E (6th) instead of the G (root) you create more tension and interest. As I said, though, if that's all you do the solo will be fairly bland - you need to look for places where you can put in riffs that either echo or compliment the melody of the song. You have to get off the pentatonic from time to time to make an interesting solo, but if you're having to try to spice up something that you're not familiar with the pentatonics are a great place to start.

Then, of course, you end up playing with a jazz pianist who improvises with so many "oddball" chord extensions that the pentatonic isn't even safe and you switch to bass. LOL

John

mendel
03-08-2011, 01:25 PM
I've been fingerpickng the melody to a lot of songs, but I always have stayed in the same note that I was strumming as a chord. For example, if I strum a G, then I've been fingerpicking with my right hand but staying fretted for a G with my left hand. I'd love to be able to move to the sixth like someone said above, but (and this will truly show my ignorance) how can I figure out what key the song is in? I mean if someone says "the chords are C, G, Ab, and F" how would I know what key it is in?

Inn Sea
03-08-2011, 02:18 PM
The notion that the minor pentatonic based on the 6th scale degree (same notes as the major pentatonic based on the 1st scale degree) is harmonically 'safe' over all chords in that key is not quite true. For example, E minor pentatonic (same notes as G major pentatonic) contains the notes E G A B D. If we test these notes over chords in the key of G, we potentially run into a G being played over a D chord. D - F# - A with a G on top is fairly dissonant.

In the key of G, the major pentatonic based on the 5th scale degree is 'safer' - i.e., the notes D E F# A B blend well with the chords G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em and F#dim. The dissonant sound of a perfect 4th above the root of a major triad is avoided. However soloing purely in D major pentatonic can be unsatisfying because there is no G to come home to.

Also wanted to mention that soloing in the minor pentatonic of the 6th scale degree doesn't work when 1) the song is in a minor key or 2) the song uses idiomatic blues chords. For example, a traditional blues song in G might use the chords G7, C7 and D7. Even though these are major triads with 7ths on top - the appropriate pentatonic scale would be G minor pentatonic, not E minor pentatonic. The G minor pentatonic has a Bb, whereas the G7 chord has a B-natural. However that clash is part of the traditional blues sound. In this case the dissonance is stylistically acceptable. If you add one note to the G minor pentatonic scale (the tritone), you get the notes G Bb C C# D F. This modified minor pentatonic scale is also known as the 'blues scale.'

Ukulele JJ
03-08-2011, 03:22 PM
I've been fingerpickng the melody to a lot of songs, but I always have stayed in the same note that I was strumming as a chord. For example, if I strum a G, then I've been fingerpicking with my right hand but staying fretted for a G with my left hand. I'd love to be able to move to the sixth like someone said above, but (and this will truly show my ignorance) how can I figure out what key the song is in? I mean if someone says "the chords are C, G, Ab, and F" how would I know what key it is in?


Really all a "key" means is a specific collection of notes. Those notes are used to make the melody (usually) and they're used to form (most of, if not all of) the chords. If you play all those notes in order, you'll get a scale--which is why memorizing scales is a good way to memorize keys. Scales and keys are related concepts.

When someone says "my song is in the key of G" what they're really saying is "I'm using G, A, B, C, D, E, and F# as my palate of notes." The melody will generally use those notes, and the chords will pretty much be the sorts of chords that you can make out of those notes. And we happen to call that particular collection of notes the G major scale.

So if you know the chords to a song are G, C, and D, it helps to know the notes in those chords:

The G major chord is made up of G, B, and D.

The C major chord is made up of C, E, and G.

The D major chord is made up of D, F#, and A.

As it so happens, there's only one regular, major key/scale that has every single one of those notes--the key of G (and therefore, the G major scale). So if you're playing those chords, you're probably in the key of G.

There are exceptions that complicate things, but that's basically the gist of it.

JJ

OldePhart
03-08-2011, 05:11 PM
I've been fingerpickng the melody to a lot of songs, but I always have stayed in the same note that I was strumming as a chord. For example, if I strum a G, then I've been fingerpicking with my right hand but staying fretted for a G with my left hand. I'd love to be able to move to the sixth like someone said above, but (and this will truly show my ignorance) how can I figure out what key the song is in? I mean if someone says "the chords are C, G, Ab, and F" how would I know what key it is in?

In most songs the root, fourth, and fifth chords will appear the most often, these are the primary chords. The second and sixth minor chords are the secondary chords and they'll show up some to. Sometimes the third minor, and once in a blue moon the 7th (usually diminished).

So, when you see C, G, Ab, and F I would first guess that the song is probably in C (C is root, F, the fourth, and G the fifth). The Ab would make it one of those songs that violates the usual rule because the Ab would not normally appear in a song in the key of C.

Rules are meant to be violated.

John

pat rock
03-09-2011, 09:14 AM
Try scatting a solo. You already have a well-developed "translate" mechanism running between your mind and your mouth. So soloing by singing is almost 100% exercising the "create" muscle. I don't care how many scales you know--if you can't sing a solo, you will probably won't be able to play a solo on the uke.

I agree with this 100% - Anybody remember THE MUSIC MAN - the old broadway play and his "Think Technique?" You've got to be able to think the part to play it!

pat rock
03-09-2011, 09:16 AM
I don't think I'm quoting correctly, sorry - I'll read the FAQ on that. The above was from Ukulele JJ.

It also occurs to me that people might not know 5th, 6th etc. That is the term for the number of the note in the scale. Start at the base note and go W_W_H_W_W_W_H. (w= whole step, h=half step) you count up for the old do, re, mi.

Ambrosius
03-09-2011, 10:05 AM
Jeez, what you all knows.

John ... , I guess a full evening with you and a gallon of good brew to share, I would have ended up wiser. I've been a sheet music man, I realize. I need to re-read all this stuff a few times, to see if I understand it all.

OldePhart
03-09-2011, 12:05 PM
Jeez, what you all knows.

John ... , I guess a full evening with you and a gallon of good brew to share, I would have ended up wiser. I've been a sheet music man, I realize. I need to re-read all this stuff a few times, to see if I understand it all.

Assuming you mean me (more John's around here than at a hooker convention) you'd probably be disappointed. I know the theory pretty well because you can learn it from the book. I can improvise something on guitar but it's not anything people are going to write home about.

A couple of people here have mentioned "feeling" the music and that really is the most important part of soloing - especially if you are going to solo well and not just avoid dropping the dishes on the floor. I usually manage to balance the dishes but that's about all I'll lay claim to. Actually, I probably ought to put that in the past tense - I've been playing bass for the last three years and rarely get a chance to wail on the electric guitar any more.

John

Ambrosius
03-09-2011, 09:40 PM
Assuming you mean me (more John's around here than at a hooker convention) you'd probably be disappointed. I know the theory pretty well because you can learn it from the book. I can improvise something on guitar but it's not anything people are going to write home about.

Said the humble man. Yes, you are the John :-) Oh, - I'd still go for the evening and the gallon to any book, I think.


A couple of people here have mentioned "feeling" the music and that really is the most important part of soloing - especially if you are going to solo well and not just avoid dropping the dishes on the floor.

"Feeling", yes. What set of rules are a beautiful rose shaped after? Not to say a beautiful woman? For me I guess it's a left and right brain halves thing. My right half is well satisfied with the "feelings", what is beautiful is beautiful, no matter what. My left half is a "dog" and after "rules". A need to understand. I'm still working on my understanding of yours and others post here.