Art            Lip               Welcome                  to my universe
I‘m a: singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist/trumpetplayer, producer/performer, photographer/visual artist, science fiction writer
© All works and content under Creative Commons License BY NC ND

Tutorial

The Mainstream Soloist

The "perfect" Solo

If there could exist only one - then we wouldn't need this tutorial. Someone already would have played it and that's it. Everybody has certain rhythmical and tonal preferences. I want that this isn't changed. The individual style is the goal of every soloist after all. To present that convincingly, he should master everything that he wants to play as good as possible. This needs continuous working on one's abilities. And, well - there are immense chances for variations - but a good solo doesn't end in itself - it follows a dramatic line. It's supposed to electrify the listener intellectually and emotionally. Intrinsically that's all one could say and then leave it that way:) But some aspects are crossing my mind thoroughly: First of all: A solo is always part of an arrangement. It has a function within the scope of it. Even if the arranger did only schedule it to fill a gap and hopes to be saved by your ideas. Either the solo is in the focus of and the central point of a composition (rather an exception), or it leads from one part of the piece to another and bridges them (very common), or it is intended to boost or remove the tension and dramaturgy of the song in the context of the whole by it. A good soloist always acts on the basis of the assumption that he is executing variant 3. He is aware what happened a moment before, where it leads to and he has a picture of the whole in mind - even when he doesn't know the music beforehand because it's e.g. an improvisation. If the music was driving to a climax before: set it (Except for the situation when you already had a perception of the development and thereby know: the climax is scheduled later). If the climax just occured before your entry: bridge to the next part or the ending - depending on the context. If there was not much action before: let something happen or set some highlights inside your performance (depending on context and arrangement again). Secondly: The solo should - if possible - have a build-up of suspense as characteristic trait. This building-up shouldn't be looking like a straight line, better visualize it as an arc or a wave. Some applicable options: 1. slowly and silently in, climax, slowly and silently out, bridge to the next part 2. climax, fall down, intermediate peaks, cautiously out, bridge to the next part 3. climax, carry on holding it, bridge to the next part 4. medium-enagaged in, indicate directions by setting accents, climax, bridge to the next part If the solo is central for the composition, then I recommend to use variation 1. However severval waves of suspense will be the best way most often then, climaxing into a "master-wave" - especially if the solo is quite long. And of cause we will also introduce mini-peaks and breaks and the like then. e.G.: cautiously in, mini-climax, cautious, mini-climax , medium engaged, "fat" climax - and after that either very cautiously and silentyly out - or ending on the peak of the climax.   A good solo is like good sex. Inside the suspense-lines and track-elements the moderate parts in turn can be aerated by the use of sforzati (ultrashort, strong accent that is replaced immediately by a fade-out) and other smaller diversifications and events. If we play such a "monster solo" then it is also a must to present some rhythmical variety and alternation - we present the full range of our phrasing art here. This is especially important (and this applies to all soli) if there is not much movement and colour-change in the given harmonic background. If on the other hand much is happening there - e.g. continuous modulations of the tonal centre - and these maybe even are changing in half-bars: then avoid to much density in your play. This would turn out as counterproductive in most cases. Because: seen from the perspective of the composer these harmonies are plastering our way so densely most often since he wants to enforce a certain melody-line. (The melody is hiddenly imbedded in the chord progressions by the means of voicing them in a way that the desired leading notes are on top of the resulting chord structure). In Bebop and Classic (before Romanticism) it might have been an esthetic ideal to decorate everything with overflowing ornaments - I consider both genres as glutted. J.S.Bach is a special case - he left some works that I perceive as academically overcharged - but he has my unlimited respect for other parts of his creation that will be milestones forever.. In case of doubt the ideal style in my eyes is the one that holds back to much "foam". A style that introduces exactly the necessary to get the maximum result. Elegant sparse lines in a Japanese picture. Italian shoes. And the like...:) This is of course very much depending on the concept of the composition. Everything is allowed that works for the ultimate goal in music: to let the build- up of tension of the music break through into the head of the listener by seizing him unrestistably and making him a willing slave of it:) Thirdly: I already mentioned it above: if the given harmonic framework that we improvise over is simple, then we have to vary the solo rhythmically , because the pool of playable tones is depleted relatively fast. A very popular and approved means of style is here, to repeat one and the same riff several times. Best with continuously slightly changing variations of rhythmical phrasing and the shifting of accentuations of notes that are the core of the featured riff ("shift of emphasis"). Stylistic devices of the same category: - Doubletime (playing twice as fast as the underlying beat) - Halftime (playing half as fast as the underlying beat) - Groove-shifting (playing binary over a ternary rhythm and vice versa) - playing along parallel to riffs and phrasings that are currently coming from other members of the band and supporting their accentuations    (What are my mates on keyboards, guitar, bass, drums etc doing this very moment and how can I go into that?). Good accompanists are reacting the same way to a soloist too of course. - the good soloist also doesn't shy away from using one single note for a time - and to exhaust it's rhythmical and accentual potential completely. Fourthly: Aditional options different to the scales, arpeggios, intervallic jumps etc mentioned elsewhere in this document: - banal but effective: play octaves once in  a while - stretch a tone over one or two complete bars every so often - not only lap around the leading notes of the harmonies always: play them out - mirror riffs (play them from the end to the top) or vary the riffs oddly - play tones in extremely high or low registers - play tones that are not directly coming from the chords of your accompanying mates, but that are logical extensions of them (e.g. play the "7" of a chord that is offered as a triad, hereby turning it into a four-voiced harmony) Fifthly: Don't forget to apply the means that I dealt with in my chapter about other options (sound variations). Some of that is good for any solo - in some styles it is "duty" - and there are also styles consisting of nothing else than that. And the importance of articulation - meanwhile everyone should have digged that I believe? Under the line the two most important attributes that turn an average solo into a good solo persist: - build-up of suspense inside the solo and supporting them in the composition - expressiveness Everything else was mentioned elsewhere in this work. So - go for it, soloist! I wish you all the best:)
© All works and content under Creative Commons License BY NC ND

Tutorial

The Mainstream Soloist

The "perfect" Solo

If there could exist only one - then we wouldn't need this tutorial. Someone already would have played it and that's it. Everybody has certain rhythmical and tonal preferences. I want that this isn't changed. The individual style is the goal of every soloist after all. To present that convincingly, he should master everything that he wants to play as good as possible. This needs continuous working on one's abilities. And, well - there are immense chances for variations - but a good solo doesn't end in itself - it follows a dramatic line. It's supposed to electrify the listener intellectually and emotionally. Intrinsically that's all one could say and then leave it that way:) But some aspects are crossing my mind thoroughly: First of all: A solo is always part of an arrangement. It has a function within the scope of it. Even if the arranger did only schedule it to fill a gap and hopes to be saved by your ideas. Either the solo is in the focus of and the central point of a composition (rather an exception), or it leads from one part of the piece to another and bridges them (very common), or it is intended to boost or remove the tension and dramaturgy of the song in the context of the whole by it. A good soloist always acts on the basis of the assumption that he is executing variant 3. He is aware what happened a moment before, where it leads to and he has a picture of the whole in mind - even when he doesn't know the music beforehand because it's e.g. an improvisation. If the music was driving to a climax before: set it (Except for the situation when you already had a perception of the development and thereby know: the climax is scheduled later). If the climax just occured before your entry: bridge to the next part or the ending - depending on the context. If there was not much action before: let something happen or set some highlights inside your performance (depending on context and arrangement again). Secondly: The solo should - if possible - have a build-up of suspense as characteristic trait. This building-up shouldn't be looking like a straight line, better visualize it as an arc or a wave. Some applicable options: 1. slowly and silently in, climax, slowly and silently out, bridge to the next part 2. climax, fall down, intermediate peaks, cautiously out, bridge to the next part 3. climax, carry on holding it, bridge to the next part 4. medium-enagaged in, indicate directions by setting accents, climax, bridge to the next part If the solo is central for the composition, then I recommend to use variation 1. However severval waves of suspense will be the best way most often then, climaxing into a "master-wave" - especially if the solo is quite long. And of cause we will also introduce mini-peaks and breaks and the like then. e.G.: cautiously in, mini-climax, cautious, mini-climax , medium engaged, "fat" climax - and after that either very cautiously and silentyly out - or ending on the peak of the climax.   A good solo is like good sex. Inside the suspense-lines and track-elements the moderate parts in turn can be aerated by the use of sforzati (ultrashort, strong accent that is replaced immediately by a fade-out) and other smaller diversifications and events. If we play such a "monster solo" then it is also a must to present some rhythmical variety and alternation - we present the full range of our phrasing art here. This is especially important (and this applies to all soli) if there is not much movement and colour-change in the given harmonic background. If on the other hand much is happening there - e.g. continuous modulations of the tonal centre - and these maybe even are changing in half-bars: then avoid to much density in your play. This would turn out as counterproductive in most cases. Because: seen from the perspective of the composer these harmonies are plastering our way so densely most often since he wants to enforce a certain melody-line. (The melody is hiddenly imbedded in the chord progressions by the means of voicing them in a way that the desired leading notes are on top of the resulting chord structure). In Bebop and Classic (before Romanticism) it might have been an esthetic ideal to decorate everything with overflowing ornaments - I consider both genres as glutted. J.S.Bach is a special case - he left some works that I perceive as academically overcharged - but he has my unlimited respect for other parts of his creation that will be milestones forever.. In case of doubt the ideal style in my eyes is the one that holds back to much "foam". A style that introduces exactly the necessary to get the maximum result. Elegant sparse lines in a Japanese picture. Italian shoes. And the like...:) This is of course very much depending on the concept of the composition. Everything is allowed that works for the ultimate goal in music: to let the build-up of tension of the music break through into the head of the listener by seizing him unrestistably and making him a willing slave of it:) Thirdly: I already mentioned it above: if the given harmonic framework that we improvise over is simple, then we have to vary the solo rhythmically , because the pool of playable tones is depleted relatively fast. A very popular and approved means of style is here, to repeat one and the same riff several times. Best with continuously slightly changing variations of rhythmical phrasing and the shifting of accentuations of notes that are the core of the featured riff ("shift of emphasis"). Stylistic devices of the same category: - Doubletime (playing twice as fast as the underlying beat) - Halftime (playing half as fast as the underlying beat) - Groove-shifting (playing binary over a ternary rhythm and vice versa) - playing along parallel to riffs and phrasings that are currently coming from other members of the band and supporting their accentuations    (What are my mates on keyboards, guitar, bass, drums etc doing this very moment and how can I go into that?). Good accompanists are reacting the same way to a soloist too of course. - the good soloist also doesn't shy away from using one single note for a time - and to exhaust it's rhythmical and accentual potential completely. Fourthly: Aditional options different to the scales, arpeggios, intervallic jumps etc mentioned elsewhere in this document: - banal but effective: play octaves once in  a while - stretch a tone over one or two complete bars every so often - not only lap around the leading notes of the harmonies always: play them out - mirror riffs (play them from the end to the top) or vary the riffs oddly - play tones in extremely high or low registers - play tones that are not directly coming from the chords of your accompanying mates, but that are logical extensions of them (e.g. play the "7" of a chord that is offered as a triad, hereby turning it into a four-voiced harmony) Fifthly: Don't forget to apply the means that I dealt with in my chapter about other options (sound variations). Some of that is good for any solo - in some styles it is "duty" - and there are also styles consisting of nothing else than that. And the importance of articulation - meanwhile everyone should have digged that I believe? Under the line the two most important attributes that turn an average solo into a good solo persist: - build-up of suspense inside the solo and supporting them in the composition - expressiveness Everything else was mentioned elsewhere in this work. So - go for it, soloist! I wish you all the best:)
Art Lip                Welcome to my universe