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Soloing basics part II

OK...For those who missed part 1 we discussed soloing in major and minor keys 
and used a Dm-C-Bb-C progression as a starting point.

Let's delve into this enigma of soloing a little more and find out how to do 
it...shall we?

The easiest solo:

The easiest solo is one note...that's it. Now, a one note solo may state a 
particular emotion that fits the tune, but it does not state an awful lot. I 
suppose the second easiest solo would be two notes, followed by more notes. 
By the way the solo to "I wanna be sedated" by the Ramones is just eighth 
notes of one tone....and hey, it works.

But if you have a chord change under your one tone (eighth notes or whatever) 
now you have developed an implied note change even though you are still 
playing the same note. Let's see why.

In the Ramones tune the chord changes are E-A-B in quarter note strums, each 
chord being one measure (real fast tempo though). The solo is eighth note open 
high E's. When the solo starts it is playing the tonic (E) which gives a 
particular consonant sound when played with the chord E. When the chord 
changes to the A, the solo is now playing the 5th of the chord (still an E) 
which is another harmonious, albeit different tonal relationship from the 
first note. Now the chord changes to B and the solo is playing the 4th of the 
chord (still E), another consonant tone. The note E is not in the B major 
chord (B-D-F#), but the perfect 4th is still effective.

So what we have found is that your solo is a relationship between the solo 
notes you are playing and the chords that the rest of the band is playing. you really don't want to be playing just a bunch of licks.

What about speed players? They can't sit around and wait for the rest of the 
band to catch up with their solo notes, so they must analyze specific notes 
or groups of notes in relation to the underlying chords. One way is to think 
about only the first and last note of a scalar passage, however long it is. 
Assuming we're playing in the proper key the notes will be alright, but if 
we're playing pretty fast the listener can't really discern them anyway, but 
they will the last note. This note is where you were going with that scalar 
run; your destination. How you got there (fast or slow) is not important, 
this is the statement you wanted to make. This brings us to:

When listening to a piece of music, the ear always wants to return to a stable 
place. This place is either the tonic (root) of the piece, or the tonic of the 
underlying chord. This "return" is called its resolution. A flurry of notes 
that don't adequately resolve, while technically impressive, leave the 
listener uncomfortably misdirected.

In our previous example using a Dm-C-Bb-C chord progression, the listener's 
ear will always want the solo sequence to return to the D note. Not only that, 
the return (or resolution) should be on the beat. There is also resolution to 
the underlying chord. So if you resolve to the C when the C major chord is 
playing, there is resolution. However when the chord then changes to he Bb, 
the resolution is lost.

Playing in a minor pentatonic scale over a I-IV-V progression yields many 
opportunities for resolution. This is because of the notes in the scale, 
(root, m3, p4, p5, m7) three of them resolve to the underlying chords, and 
the others resolve with a small bend. This is one of the reasons the 
pentatonic scale is so easy to use.

Now that we have established that rule...break it. Play a little solo melody 
and leave it unresolved. Go ahead, rules are meant to be broken. Resolve to 
the "C" while the tune is still on the Dm, but hold it until the band catches 

Let's get really wild and play notes that are not in the scale! Let's add 
passing tones to our scales like this:

Play real fast in Dm
Pick the asterisked notes and pull-off the rest.

   *     *     *     *     *     *

Notice the passing tone inserted between the "D" and the final "C" note? This 
lick resolves to the C, however, if you hold the C for a moment and then 
hammer-on or slide to the D at the seventh fret, we have a nice resolution to 
the tonic.

Remember that your main goals in soloing are:

1	Entertain the listener
2	Add to the song
3	Take the song someplace that the lyrics can't
4	Reinforce the melody or chord structure

Listen to some of your favorite solos and pick out the resolutions. They 
will be very obvious as you listen to each tune. Listen also to those spots 
where resolution is delayed, or not there.

If you have a recording of Yngwie's first album with Alcatrazz, check out the 
way he incorporates speed with resolution.

For kicks also listen to "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi and pick out the 
resolutions in the melody, or try "La Gazza ladra" (The Thieving Magpie) by 

For blues scale resolution, check out David Gilmour's solo in Comfortably 
Numb from The Wall.

OK...that resolves that. I hope this helps in your melody writing and soloing.

Any comments or additions are welcome.

Sorry if I got a little wordy.


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