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Thread: To create a solo based in a chord progression

  1. #1
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    To create a solo based in a chord progression

    Hello my friends
    I need to know the basic steps of how to create a solo based in a chord progression. I don't know much about music theory so, if you go too deep in your reply, I will get confused.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello my friends
    I need to know the basic steps of how to create a solo based in a chord progression. I don't know much about music theory so, if you go too deep in your reply, I will get confused.
    What is the message you want your solo to give. Happy use the major scale and the major chords, sad, use one of the minor scales with minor chords. Want a Mexican sound use the mixolydian mode over a two chord vamp. So it kinda depends on what you want the solo to say. The following is a basic format you could use to write any song. Use as much of this as you need.
    1. Decide on a scale. Yes just one. I sing in D if this is going to be my song I'd write it with D scale notes. If you do not have any vocalist in mind C is easy - no sharps or flats. OK I want to write a Pop, Rock or Country song so Major scale and major chords will be a good starting point.
    2. Decide on a chord progression. Yes one of the cookie cutter progressions will be fine to get started. You can flesh it out later. Since this is my song I'd use a I IV V7 I or D, G, A7, D progression.
    3. Now the rest is chicken or egg. I chose lyrics, chords then melody. You may want to go melody then chords and leave lyrics for last. It's your song do it the way you want. I'll give the lyrics first method.
    4. Get the story into verse format. Four line verse is a good format. You will need three verses and a chorus. Chorus is the hook, what you want them singing tomorrow. Rhyme or not up to you.
    5. Place your cookie cutter progression over the lyric words. This is my first draft approach. Start the verse with the I chord. Move to the IV chord near the ending of the first line. Continue with the IV into the second line and near the end of the second line bring in the V7 chord and then quickly end the 2nd line with the I chord. Repeat this for the 3rd and 4th line. Might as well use that same format for the other verses and what the heck use it for the chorus - remember you are doing a first draft.
    6. Play that progression and move the chords around to where they match the lyric words. Move them a little one way or the other - your ear will tell you.
    7. Now it's melody time. I go to the keyboard for this - at any rate - one melody note per lyric word. Ma-ry and Lit-tle will take two melody notes.
    8. Which notes. Chord tones. The chord's pentatonic will give you three chord tones and two safe passing notes - more than enough to build a melody that will harmonize with the chords you are using. Yes your melody notes and your chord notes should share like notes - when they do you harmonize both the melody and the chord line. I find knowing the progression first then finding melody notes from within the chords lets me keep the chord progression's journey from rest, tension, climax, resolution and return to rest the verse should travel in tact. Now I only have to find harmonizing notes for my melody. Here is what I do. Recite the lyric word and see what chord tone sounds best, i.e. over the C chord you've got the C, E or G notes - and let's say the word in question is "now" say now and listen to the C note - what do you think? Try the E note, then the G note. I'd pick the C or E the G does not work for me. Which one sounds best to you? That's how I build the melody - what sounds good over the lyrics. What flows over several words - a phrase. Remember to pause - gotta get that rhythm into the song a line of notes is noise, a melody that flows and has pauses so the melody can breath is your goal. We speak in phrases, your song should be sung in phrases.

    Sit back open a bottle of your favorite beverage and start on fleshing out your first draft.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-17-2010 at 12:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello my friends
    I need to know the basic steps of how to create a solo based in a chord progression. I don't know much about music theory so, if you go too deep in your reply, I will get confused.

    Thanks
    Not to detract from Malcolm's advice but here's mine.

    If you haven't got a chord progression, make one - or steal one. (They're not copyright )

    Find some shapes for the chords and play them. Try to find shapes for all the chords that are close to one another (they could all be open chords, or all movable shapes around the same frets).
    Ideally, look for several different shapes for each chord, so you can play the whole sequence in a few different places on the neck. But you can make a start even if you only know one shape for each chord.

    A solo begins from essentially reducing those chords to single notes. It can be one note from each chord, or it can be a full arpeggio of the chord (all the chord tones wherever you can find them) - or any number in between.

    The idea is to work out paths between the note(s) in one chord and any note in the next chord.
    Sometimes there is no path - you don't move anywhere because the same note can be found in the next chord.
    Sometimes the path is just 2 notes long (eg, from an E on a C chord to a D on a G chord).
    You don't need to know note names, by the way. Just work from the chord shapes you know.

    If the notes in each chord are bit too limiting (maybe they're only power chords!), borrow some notes from the chord before or after to put in between. This always works.

    These are just baby steps, of course, but you need them before you can run. To begin with, it's about stepping carefully from chord to chord, so you know where you're putting your feet, as it were - like stepping stones across a stream. Eventually, you can run across nimbly without thinking much about where your feet are going; you can even dance on the way. (If you play a scale ignoring the chords altogether, that's like just wading across in the water; you might make it, you might drown or get swept away; you're certainly going to get wet.)
    To pursue the metaphor - and I hope I'm not going too "deep" here - there are a few choices of "stones" at each step (each chord is a step forward; but when you step you can go to any note in the next chord) - you don't always have to go the same way, there's an almost infinite variety of ways across. This is ultimately where the creativity and expression comes in. (The metaphor starts to get a bit weak now... there's not a whole lot of creativity in crossing a stream, and in music the point is not just to get to the other side unscathed anyway.)

    If you listen as you play, you should soon hear how the chord tones sound different from each other - each has its own kind of "character" (relative to the chord, or to the key). Certain moves from note to note have characters too. Big jumps are certainly very different in effect (more dramatic) than scale-wise moves. But each "interval" (distance between 2 notes) has a character. You don't really have to think too much about this, just keep listening as you play, learning to recognise the different sounds.

    The best advice to begin with is not to worry about scales or modes or any of that stuff. The chords between them probably contain all the scale notes anyway - it's like they're giving you the scale in an already prepared, ready-to-go form, with the best notes you need at each moment already selected. Most of the work has been done for you! Ignoring the chords and going for the scale (taking the chords apart to find the scale) is making things more difficult.

    So rely on the chords, and keep things simple. Great solos can be played with 3 or 4 notes. (Check out B B King and Miles Davis.) It's not what notes you play, it's HOW you play them: the rhythm, the feel, the sound, the "phrases" (bunches of notes with breathing space between).

    (Sorry there's not a lot of technical tips here. I'm assuming you can find your way through a chord sequence; that - and the right attitude - is all you need, IMO.)
    Last edited by JonR; 09-16-2010 at 04:39 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    .....So rely on the chords, and keep things simple. Great solos can be played with 3 or 4 notes. (Check out B B King and Miles Davis.) It's not what notes you play, it's HOW you play them: the rhythm, the feel, the sound, the "phrases" (bunches of notes with breathing space between).
    4 note solo..... http://bluesguitarunleashed.com/4note-dl.php

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-16-2010 at 04:44 PM.

  5. #5
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    I use a technique that, basically I think it's the same as JonR's. I look for the notes of the triad chord and use it as a starting point.
    Malcolm, great solo using only 4 notes...just like BB King.

  6. #6
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    There is no one cookie cutter solution. The nack of creating a good solo comes from several things. this is only a brief overview:

    Being familiar with the chord tones. This requires more than just knowing them but practicing them to the point where you can do it in diferent positions of the neck with some ease. Lots of practice, No new news there.

    Linking of chordtones with non-chord tones. Creating tention and resolution on the right beats. This is where you use your triads and create melodies by playing the notes in between to create melodie.

    Building a vocabulary of melodies that are memorable and invoke feeling. This means learning as many melodies as you can. When you learn a new tune, learn the vocal melodies. A lot of memorable classic melodies invoke feelings from our past. You don't have to use them exactly like the original but in parts, at different speeds and with different accents and phrasing.

    Learning stuff by accident. Record your progression and then record yourself jamming to it. Spend more time listening to the recordings than recording. You can learn a lot about yourself by listening.

  7. #7
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    Talking

    Hey buddy, here are some publicly free pdf documents that will help you on your way. This link is something that I also found very useful, it gets you thinking on a practical level about what you are actually doing when writing melodies, which is essentially what your solo is, a group of melodies; http://smu.edu/totw/melody.htm.

    I hope this is at least a little helpful. Best of luck!
    Attached Files Attached Files

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