Timing in solos

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by thesamhill, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic

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    I am fairly eclectic in what I listen to, but I guess I come from the bluegrass and fiddle-tune tradition more than anything else.

    I'm accustomed to thinking of solo parts as mostly runs of 8th (16th?) notes- melodic progressions of mostly evenly-spaced notes. When I listen to rock solos it seems like there are a lot more rests, triplets, trills, all that.

    So when I play in a band setting and it's solo time, I tend to play solos that sound like fiddle breaks- not necessarily in note choice, but in how the notes are timed out.

    Looking around, I've seen YouTube vids on "licks" and scales and such, and some of them get pretty deep into why this string of notes sounds like blues or works for metal or whatever. I haven't seen as comprehensive of a breakdown on how different styles use rests, stretch bends, throw in triplets or trills, and all that.

    Anyone have any comments on that? How do you learn to take some notes, bend them way up and hold them there, but then take other notes and throw them out in triple-time?

    Thoughts, vids, recommended reads, etc welcomed. Thanks-
     
  2. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

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    put more space in between notes. hold some notes longer than usual. "miss" a note from time to time. try to make 'em hear the note you didn't play.

    I do a fair amount of bends and try to come at my "goal" note from odd approaches. (the note you end a phrase on can let you get away with a lot of weird stuff... as long as you hit that last note that "lands it", if ya get what I mean)

    work on your finger vibrato... that adds finish

    triplets are OK but don't make that you main dish. use sparingly

    all this is only opinion...
     
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  3. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    timing and holding back and a pause..all becomes our own personal signature in leads..makes us unique,,everytime i tried to emulate..it was not me..but a variation of my own style in learning a new technique has made for never ending guitar playing enjoyment...coming out of the metal fog years ago...speed was way to overemphasized..it was the pause or the bend at the right time that allowed the solos to really open up...
     
  4. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    I think Orrin Starr (author of Hot Licks for Bluegrass Guitar) used to have students who struggle with soloing try to play solos on kazoo. He would then transcribe the kazoo solo and play it back to them. Invariably, the kazoo solos had more interesting note choices and timings than the guitar solos.

    For me, I try humming a solo and then seeing if I can recreate it (or something like it) on guitar. This gets me away from the endless string of 8th notes. Even the great bluegrass guitar players don't play eighth notes all the time. If you listen closely you will be amazed at how many times they rest for a bar, or even two bars.
     
  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Listen. That's really it. In Bluegrass that cadence is common but not universal. If you listen to the bass, drums, guitar, and other instruments, and "listen" to the vocal melody, the timing will make sense for the genre and song.

    There's not a manual. It's coming from inside you, and reacting to the song going around you. If you try to learn it as a set of rules, it won't work. But if you listen, it will.
     
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  6. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    Try to NOT count with your right hand.
     
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  7. Jack S

    Jack S Friend of Leo's

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    Start listening to horn parts. They tend to be more arranged and you will get a stronger sense of phrasing. I always default to melody, then everything else flows out of that.
     
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  8. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    sing a solo and record it on your phone

    then learn it

    remember to breathe
     
  9. BGTele

    BGTele Tele-Afflicted

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    Bluegrass and fiddle tunes are full of 8th note runs as you say. In rock and blues they play with and stretch time more. Here is a good rule of thumb: practicing rhythm on a particular tune gives you the timing for your solo. Also, the melody or theme just as in bluegrass. You must have soloed on a bluegrass song playing off the melody right?
     
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  10. Area51

    Area51 Tele-Holic

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    First, I think breaking the "mold" and sounding like fiddle breaks could be really cool. Second, when something is being played fast I generally seem to gravitate to playing slower. The notes just stand out better. Plus it's easier for me to think through the melody.


    I've always wondered about that! For sure I get stuck in certain guitar playing paradigms. For that reason there was a time when I liked to fiddle around (yes, pun intended!) on a cheap Casio keyboard. The reason being not knowing the keyboard I would rely on trying to play/hear the melody. Maybe it's time to pick up another one of these.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
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  11. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

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    Learn solos note for note that contain the information you seek. It works. It really works. No tab. Just listen to, study, learn to sing, then learn the solo note for note by ear. Then play it over and over. Then move it to different keys.

    Seem like a lot of work? Well, it will get you what you want, on a deeply intuitive level. When I was in school as a music major, I had to do that with jazz solos. For a couple of years, I really sounded like a jazz player. Then I spent the next thirty years learning country solos. Bet you can't guess what I sound like now. Now it's so deeply embedded, I have to consciously not play like that when playing other styles.
     
  12. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Holic

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    Here is my brief philosophy on soloing in general (for what it's worth)...

    To get to the stage where you can solo freely AND have your solo sound musically interesting (very important), you need to be able to think of licks and phrases as entities unto themselves. For example, imagine that you learn an 8 note pentatonic lick. Give it a name - e.g. "apple". Then your learn another lick - call it "orange". Now, in your mind, instead of thinking of the individual notes or where your pick is or where your fretting fingers are, you just play the lick. It comes out of you without thinking. So your solos become - (1) start with "apple", then (2) play "orange", then (3) "apple" again. And so on. If you have a vocabulary of 50 licks or more, you can start improvising solos without retreading too much (i.e. playing the same lick over and over). Along the way, you also learn that "apple" goes best at the start of a 12 bar solo, orange is best when you go the IV chord, and so on. And you can find which licks link together on the fretboard so you can easily go from, say, "apple" to "orange" to "pear" ...

    The reason for practicing the "apple" "orange" soloing concept is so you can, once the notes are more or less "automatic", practice phrasing and timing, adding vibrato, picking softly then hard, sliding, hammer-ons, etc. etc. This is what makes a boring sequence of notes (no matter how speedily executed) "musically interesting".

    My struggle always is to try to get my left and right hands in sync so as to not "fluff" notes, play unwanted strings, and play in time. There are occasions where it seems I can't hit notes for the life of me (missing strings, picking wrong strings...) and other times where things flow freely. I guess that's why we practice! :)

    One thing I've always admired about SRV's playing was his precision - he rarely played a wrong note, fluffed a phrase, or hit any unwanted strings. And yet, while being precise, he was also very musical and soulful. If I could halfway accomplish that in my own guitar playing, I'd consider it a victory!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
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  13. McCtelecaster

    McCtelecaster Tele-Meister

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    I agree with what you're saying. I hum a lot also. I hope I'm not losing it! If I am losing it, I've been losing it for many many years. I've been an avid motocyclist for over 40 years, and I've traveled over 700,000 kms. Sometimes I'll take a day ride, or go for 1,2,3, or even 4 weeks at a time. Most of my riding, especially over the past 20 years has been solo, without a passenger. While I'm riding, I find myself invariably humming solos, most of the time not even realizing I'm doing it until I find myself right into it. And since it's so spontaneous, the solos tend to vary one from the other quite a bit. But they're almost always quite original, and that makes them very personal.
    If I'm at home, and playing my guitar on a regular basis, my solos can tend to become somewhat monotonous, and can be sometimes boring. But after an extended period riding, and humming away all by myself, I end up storing all these ideas in the back of my mind. So when I get home, I'm not only excited about having the opportunity to play my guitar again, but I've got a lot of ideas to let lose.

    A little bit off topic maybe. I'm not sure. But that's what happens, and it's liberating.....Dave:)
     
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  14. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

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    I came here to say this. Listen to horn players and how they phrase things and work with harmonies. And that's always my default - play around with the melody. You can always find interesting stuff that way.
     
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  15. suave eddie

    suave eddie Tele-Afflicted

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    Melody.

    Start with the melody and forget scales and arpeggios and timing for a minute.

    There's an old interview of Jerry Garcia, my favorite guitarist in a 1978 Guitar Player magazine where he confirms what I always knew about his approach to soloing. I had noticed early on that he almost always starts with the melody. His genius to me was how he approached the melody. He comes at it from so many different angles.
    "The way I start is to learn the literal melody of the tune. Then I construct solos as though I’m either playing with it or against it. That’s a pretty loose description, obviously, because there are a lot of other factors involved. Later on I start to see other kinds of connections, but one of my first processes is to learn the literal melody in any position. I am very attracted to melody. A song with a beautiful melody can just knock me off my feet, but the greatest changes on earth don’t mean anything to me if they don’t have a great melody tying them together in some sense."

    Full interview here: https://www.guitarplayer.com/miscellaneous/gp-flashback-jerry-garcia-october-1978
     
  16. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic

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    Thanks all. Lots of great stuff here. I'm going to have to spend some time mulling all this over!

    FWIW: what I play tends to sound a lot like this rendition of Blackberry Blossom in terms of the rate of delivery of the notes.



    It doesn't usually sound bad, it's just that I tend to play it all at a fairly steady rate and it sometimes seems monotonous, even to me. But then I think "I'm gonna do a squealie! Now now now!" and it's totally in the wrong place- not the wrong note, necessarily, just the wrong place to hold a note.

    So thanks for the insight! Good stuff to ponder on going into the weekend.
     
  17. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Afflicted

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    Maybe oversimplifying but...I was a rock and roll guitar player for 40 years and played a lot of notes. Yes, there were bends and they weren't all 8ths but still...

    I shifted over to blues about 10 years ago and exclusively play in blues bands (yup, old white guy cliche). It took some study and practice to play less, get two or more notes out of a bend, make vibrato work for me, end phrases on more interesting notes and just leave some space.

    YouTube can be a big help but just experiment and think about each note you play. It'll come.
     
  18. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    listen to Muddy Waters
     
  19. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Clarence White had a bluegrass background.
     
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  20. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are interested, I've written up a page about the philosophy and design behind soloing. You can find it HERE.

    Bob
     
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