Composing solos

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Thread: Composing solos

  1. #1

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Far, far away...
    ME: Les Paul Standard
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    Composing solos

    In the new band I'm playing with (more on that later!) one of the rules we've established is that all solos are written out and notated rather than improvised, and although it was weird at first given that I'm used to playing solos totally off the cuff, I've actually really enjoyed doing it this way as it's forced me to explore some new ideas rather than just playing all my usual stuff.

    Does anyone who approaches solos like this have any particular methods they use for putting them together? Curious to see how everyone else goes about it...
    "The greatest power one may possess -- in any situation -- is simply not to care what happens.

    "In fact, it's the only power, all others being a semblance and mockery of it. But you must also not care about possessing the power itself. So fuck it."

    Thomas Ligotti

  2. #2

    Join Date: Feb 2011
    Location: Connecticut

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    Well for myself I mostly attack in by improvising first. I've already done all my homework as far as learning what tones to hit over chords, what scales to use, blah,blah,blah so I just start out with improvising.

    I have myself connected to my recording program which has the progression I'm going to be playing over on it. I then start improvising until I get a beginning part that I like. I then save that part, learn it and continue to improve from that point to get what I want for the next part. I continue until I have a solo exactly the way I want it.

    The other way I have attacked it was to just imagine the solo in my head and then duplicate it on the guitar. I do it much in the same manner as I described above. I also imagine myself in an audience watching a full band playing what I wrote so I can get a little different viewpoint on what I came up with. A little odd I know but it works pretty well!

    I can't wait to get some of the other things I'm currently working on so I can get back to actually creating some music. It seems like ages since I had time to work on my own material. Anyways there is a couple things you may try.

  3. #3

    Join Date: Jan 2010
    Location: Burbank, CA
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    I sit down and write to the chord progression and to the phrase. I like for things to make sense and to sound cool, so I do everything in my power to realize that. This is the opening of one of my solos:

    You can see that it's broken down fairly logically. I'm definitely mindful of the trajectory (as represented by the line at the top), and there is a concern with chord tones. So long as you're treating chord tones properly (that is to say, more important than non-chord tones), it'll sound decent.

  4. #4

    Join Date: Apr 2012
    Location: Los Angeles
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    What I do (and have heard of lots of other people doing as well) is doing several takes of improvising, then combining the best aspects of all the takes into one composed solo.

  5. #5

    Join Date: Apr 2009
    Location: Manchester

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    I fuck around until I find something good, if I don't. no solo

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