Soloing Over Chords

Gabriel Perez

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I know that we got into it during the second half of the CAGED system series in the beginner levels, and I know that we also talk about Landing Tones and Color Tones during Papa Gates' blues master class but I'm still struggling a lot with getting lines and phrases going to create interesting improvised solos. It's a bit difficult for me to think of these things on the spot. Or even to get a good feel of the song because it all feels like I'm just hitting notes as fast as possible rather than serving the music and hitting notes tastefully.

Help? Thank you
 

Ids Schiere

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First thing to do is to take a look at the melody&motif lesson because frankly any solo that doesn't have a (distinct) melody going is gonna bore me as a listener. When you have that down try to maybe learn some licks and use them around that melody or like Syn says it take the motif/melody and shred around it.

For the fitting the song part, let's say you want to play over a slow blues backing tracks for example. If you've never heard a slow blues song in your life it's gonna be hard to play over it so before you start doing that try to listen to a lot of Blues to get a feel for it. If you want to be able to fit it through anything really just listen to a lot of different tempos and types of music and actively listen to what happens. I'm doing that at the moment with gypsy jazz
 
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Dominik Gräber

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I think I might be the Other way around. I have a Feeling that I know how to do it but Not yet the theory and practice behind it.
So it really depends on what you want to Play. If you Talk about Metal Solos you surely want to have a melody but to start you could Just incorporate some Long notes between your shred Runs. Let them end in bends, Strong vibratos. Or think about how to Connect them interestingly all over the Neck.
If it comes to bluesy stuff what I do is Just noodle around without context and every now and then you Come around a short phrase or lick you really Like and could remember for later. :)
 

Ezequiel Romanko

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Following what Dominik said i think you should see the shred runs like a bridge to conect the main notes of your solo, think of shred like a way to create some tension or feeling towards some notes, the best example i can give you is the solo on Lost from A7X the shred runs are there for create a tension or a feeling over the slower parts of the solo.
 
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I think it'd be really helpful to take a step back and look at the chords and build up from there. Lets say you have a progression that goes | Dmi | Gmi | A | and repeats.

First I would say to pick a single position (pattern of the caged system) and stay there for the time being. Then start the progression and just hit the root note of the chord on each bar. Don't solo or move around. For the first bar just play a D note, then play a G note for the second bar, then an A note for the third bar and repeat until you get comfortable switching between those notes in whatever position you choose (make sure you're playing each octave of the note some patterns might have 3 different places to play a note while others may only have two). Once you get comfortable with this apply the same concept but with the third of each chord. So the third of Dmi is F, the third of Gmi is Bb, and the Third of A is C#. Once you get comfortable with this, then apply the same concept but with the fifth of each chord. Once you're comfortable with the fifths, do this with the sevenths.

So what you're effectively doing here is finding target notes for when you wanna stop your runs and start doing something more melodic. The notes you practiced are all chord tones, which means they will sound good with the chord you land on. The progression I listed is in D harmonic minor. So lets say you're playing through it and you're about to stop your run and you want to land on a good note. If you're gonna start your melody on the second bar, you'd ideally wanna play a G, Bb, D, or F to get the most pleasant sound to ring with the chord (not to say you cant land on other notes this is just a reference.) If you'd wanna start your melody on the third bar, you'd wanna play an A, C#, E, or G. And you'd apply this same concept if you started your melody on Dmi.

You'd wanna apply this concept to all five of the CAGED patterns and the three note per string patterns. It'll take time but it'll be worth it. This is a handy thing to do if you're playing on a gig and at the last minute you're asked to improvise. Just take a couple of minutes to find your target notes and you'll feel more confident in your soloing.

I made another post a while back on which scales to use in your solos. If you'd wanna check it out heres the link:
https://syngates.com/threads/choosing-which-scale-to-play-over-a-progression.2464/

Hope this helps!
 
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Calvin Phillips

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I know that we got into it during the second half of the CAGED system series in the beginner levels, and I know that we also talk about Landing Tones and Color Tones during Papa Gates' blues master class but I'm still struggling a lot with getting lines and phrases going to create interesting improvised solos. It's a bit difficult for me to think of these things on the spot. Or even to get a good feel of the song because it all feels like I'm just hitting notes as fast as possible rather than serving the music and hitting notes tastefully.

Help? Thank you
Keep doing it man. When I started my improvs were literally just octaves. The more you practice the more you won't need to think about it.
 

Andrei Moraru

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What I do when improvising, which helps me a lot, is understanding what key my song is written in. After that, I figure out the major and minor pentatonic scales associated with that key.

For example, if your song is written in the key of C, you can use the C major pentatonic and A minor pentatonic scales.

Once you have this figured out, try your improvising using these scales. Another thing you can do which I find helps is to start certain sections of your improvisation on the root note of the chord that is playing.
 
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Gabriel Perez

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I think it'd be really helpful to take a step back and look at the chords and build up from there. Lets say you have a progression that goes | Dmi | Gmi | A | and repeats.

First I would say to pick a single position (pattern of the caged system) and stay there for the time being. Then start the progression and just hit the root note of the chord on each bar. Don't solo or move around. For the first bar just play a D note, then play a G note for the second bar, then an A note for the third bar and repeat until you get comfortable switching between those notes in whatever position you choose (make sure you're playing each octave of the note some patterns might have 3 different places to play a note while others may only have two). Once you get comfortable with this apply the same concept but with the third of each chord. So the third of Dmi is F, the third of Gmi is Bb, and the Third of A is C#. Once you get comfortable with this, then apply the same concept but with the fifth of each chord. Once you're comfortable with the fifths, do this with the sevenths.

So what you're effectively doing here is finding target notes for when you wanna stop your runs and start doing something more melodic. The notes you practiced are all chord tones, which means they will sound good with the chord you land on. The progression I listed is in D harmonic minor. So lets say you're playing through it and you're about to stop your run and you want to land on a good note. If you're gonna start your melody on the second bar, you'd ideally wanna play a G, Bb, D, or F to get the most pleasant sound to ring with the chord (not to say you cant land on other notes this is just a reference.) If you'd wanna start your melody on the third bar, you'd wanna play an A, C#, E, or G. And you'd apply this same concept if you started your melody on Dmi.

You'd wanna apply this concept to all five of the CAGED patterns and the three note per string patterns. It'll take time but it'll be worth it. This is a handy thing to do if you're playing on a gig and at the last minute you're asked to improvise. Just take a couple of minutes to find your target notes and you'll feel more confident in your soloing.

I made another post a while back on which scales to use in your solos. If you'd wanna check it out heres the link:
https://syngates.com/threads/choosing-which-scale-to-play-over-a-progression.2464/

Hope this helps!
I’ll check out that post, this gives me a bit of a starting point to get into soloing since my jazz ensemble have said I’m lacking a bit of that spice that makes it a bit of a bland solo.
 

Gabriel Perez

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What I do when improvising, which helps me a lot, is understanding what key my song is written in. After that, I figure out the major and minor pentatonic scales associated with that key.

For example, if your song is written in the key of C, you can use the C major pentatonic and A minor pentatonic scales.

Once you have this figured out, try your improvising using these scales. Another thing you can do which I find helps is to start certain sections of your improvisation on the root note of the chord that is playing.
Thank you! I’ll try this as well! These are great tips!
 

Calvin Phillips

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Thank you! I guess it’s me being impatient a lot since I see a ton of amazing players 😅
You have to develop the skills before you can utilize them. So that alone takes time to get used to the pattern. Then you can start taking notes out and start moving it around.its taken me a while myself and I'm still not happy where I am. My arpeggios are getting better though.
 
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Brian Haner Sr.

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Some GREAT advice on this thread. I love the idea of just playing the roots of the chords. Then tie them together with an in-between note, e.g. A (C) D or A (E) D. Gotta crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Know your arpeggios and then begin filling in with those in-between notes. And always remember to work on vibrato and feel. Make every note count.
As Beethoven said, "To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable."
 
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