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Basics of Soloing
When you are ready to write or improvise a solo, it is important to 1) know the chord progression and what key you are in and 2) know what you want your solo to sound like. I'm going to assume that if you are reading this you already know how to figure out what key you're in. So I'm just going to jump right into this with a few quick examples because i feel this is the least important part of this lesson, but is a necessary step.
We are going to use a simple four chord progression of: A5-F5-E5-D5-E5-F5. All examples will be played in Drop D tuning. Ok, here is the rhythm part:
Now that you have your rhythm established, it's time to solo! Ok, so now you have to decide how you want your solo to sound. Do you want it to simple harmonize with the rhythm, do you want it to sound sad, happy? These are things you should be asking yourself.
Harmonizing your leads with your rhythm
This is where knowing the different intervals within a scale come into play. But you're gonna ask, well which scale? Since the chord progression involves, A F E and D, and it starts with A, I'm going to use the A natural minor scale as my starting point. I chose this scale because in the key of A minor you have the notes A B C D E F G. A minor seemed fairly obvious to me.
For this solo, I am going to harmonize with the rhythm using thirds. In other words, I am taking the root note of the rhythm chord, and while staying with the A natural minor scale, I am going to count two intervals up and play that note to Harmonize. Ok, here we go:
Of course you don't have to play that exactly as I do. That was just to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
Creating "Sad" Textures
There are certain modes that sound sad. A natural minor a.k.a. A aeolian is one of those sad sounding scales. Another sad scale would be, B Locrian or D Dorian. I am not going to tab out an example of how you can apply these scales, because there are a zillion different licks to play. You should look the scales up and practice with them yourself.
Creating "Happy" Textures
Just as there are "sad" sounding scales, there are also happy sounding scales. You could play C Ionian, E Phrygian or G Mixolydian. I am not going to tab out an example of how you can apply these scales, because there are a zillion different licks to play. You should look the scales up and practice with them yourself.
The Sounds of Different Modes
Here is a table to help you. Not everyone will agree, and how a scale sounds has a lot to do with how you play it.
All right dudes...and dudettes...we are halfway through! Go for a smoke, grab a beer or whatever floats your boat. Me, I've already got myself settled in with a cold Miller Light and a pack of Camel Filters. (I don't condone underage drinking, call me a hypocrite, and smoking is bad-once again, call me a hypocrite.)
Ok, moving right along. Personally i find that if i stick with one scale for the entirety of a solo, I get kinda bored. So I say to myself, "F*** it! If I'm playing in A minor, than no matter what mode I'm using, all the notes will be the same!"
Ok, so we all know what modes are right? Well in case you don't, they are scales. Simple as that. I'm not going to go into it because this lesson is not about modes. Here is an example of combing two modes to create an awkward sound...somewhere between happy and sad, where both modes will kind of neutralize each other. I'm going to use A Aeolian and B Locrian for this example...
Most guitar players do something like this without even realizing what they are doing. This is just to give you an idea of what I mean. If you do this already great! Good for you! The bakery down the street is giving away free cookies! But if you are one of those dudes who just plays in one mode for an entire solo, try to step out of the box a little.
Here is a lick that traverses through all seven modes:
Have fun with that one. It's a pretty cool lick and is great to warm up with.
This can be tricky at first. But shouldn't take long for you to get the hang of. First thing we are gonna do is take each of the chords in our progression (A5 F5 E5 and D5) by themselves. Also, for the sake of heavy metal...we are gonna stay in the Natural Minor key for each Chord.
Now, theoretically, switching keys is kinda like solving equations. One basic rule, what you do to one side you must do to the other. So when you switch the key you are soloing in, you must also switch your chord to match and visa versa. One way to do this smoothly, is to find common notes amongst your scales, which is why i made the above table. For example, if you are going from A natural minor to F natural minor, you don't want to go from D to G#...that wont sound so hot because there is no G# in the A natural minor scale and it will be fairly obvious that you are switching scales. However, the A natural minor and the F natural minor do share the F G and C notes. OK, enough with the jibber jabber. Here is the rhythm part, and for the lead, I am going to switch from A natural minor to F natural minor to E natural minor to D natural minor and back again....obviously its not going to be a great solo...but you'll hopefully get the idea.
That concludes this lesson. Hopefully you learned a bit. There is one more lesson on way in which i will discuss chromatics and other fun topics!
To harmonise in thirds you count 2 intervals up from your starting note, not three or it would be in fourths!
oops....i was thinking degrees in the scale...ill fix that right away! thanks.
nice lesson. i would agree that locrian is the most dark sounding.
One question Guitarslinger: Why can a tril or solo sometimes be played repetitevely while the chords change? I don't understand the last part of your lesson. I do know how to solo Quite well but I don't understand your theory.
In the last part, I'm [b] not [/b] saying that you [b] have [/b] switch scales to match each individual chord. Normally when you solo you tend to stay in one key for entire solo. In that last part I was saying that if you want to switch scales/keys in your solo, either your chords have to match your scales or your scale has to match your chords. (obviously i'm a firm believer in doing what sounds good as opposed to being theoretically correct all the time, but [b] being [/b] theoretically correct your scales and chords have to match in order to switch keys. And keep in mind, this lesson is not entirely theory oriented- if it was i would have added in that you can switch keys without always switching chords, like going from D natural minor to D phrygian in Dm-C5-G5 progression.)
i want a scale which will allow me to make more angry violent sounding solos any sugestions?
madman use the phrygian major, locrian mode, harmonic minor, harmonic major, or double harmonic, they are all dark sounding to me
ive always though lydian is happy nd phrygian is sad b/c phrygian is a mode of the minor scale, and lydian is mode of maj.
lydian phygian and minor(aeolian) are all modes of the major scale
1st - Major
I think it's easier to refer to the first mode in a major as Ionian, as opposed to "major" because if you tell someone you're playing a major scale in a minor they will look at you like you're crazy. Just so you don't think I'm crazy, if you are playing a song in A minor, which is harmonically the same as C major, C Ionian is a valid scale to play for a lead. C Ionian is also referred to as the C major scale.
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